A new partnership between leading rewilding charity Trees for Life and Triodos Bank UK aims to raise £2 million to part-fund the world’s first rewilding centre in the Scottish Highlands between Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye – an ambitious initiative for showcasing action on the nature and climate emergencies, creating green jobs, and providing people with inspiring experiences.
For the first time, Triodos Bank UK - part of Europe’s leading sustainable bank - is offering investors the opportunity to invest directly in a rewilding charity, through a bond offer on the Triodos Crowdfunding platform, which is open to investors from as little as £50.
Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Highlands and restoring the native Caledonian Forest that once covered much of Scotland. Today, only sparse patches of the original forest remain and much of its wildlife - including capercaillie, red squirrel, golden eagle and crested tit - have also suffered significant declines. The charity has also been instrumental in forming the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, a coalition of more than 20 environmental organisations calling for Scotland to become the world’s first ‘rewilding nation’, returning 30% of land and sea to nature by 2030.
The new Rewilding Centre at the Trees for Life Dundreggan estate in Glenmoriston will showcase the recovery of nature and allow visitors to explore wild landscapes, discover Gaelic culture and learn about the region’s unique wildlife all year round. The £6 million attraction is expected to open to the public in spring 2023 and welcome over 70,000 visitors annually by 2030.
Steve Micklewright, chief executive of Trees for Life, commented: “The new Triodos bond offer is a unique opportunity to invest in an exciting, positive and much-needed initiative. Funds raised will ensure we can establish Dundreggan Rewilding Centre as a beacon of hope for the restoration of nature on a large scale across Scotland, tackling climate breakdown, creating green jobs and volunteering opportunities, and reconnecting people with nature.”
The centre will also boost the rural economy through at least 15 new local jobs. An all-weather visitor centre, café and events space will act as the gateway to fully accessible trails, child-friendly forest experiences and more adventurous walks, while an accessible accommodation space will allow for longer educational and volunteering stays.
Income generated by the centre will support Trees for Life in their aim to rewild the Scottish Highlands. They plan to increase woodland cover at Dundreggan alone from 26% to 41% over the next 10 years.
The 9-year bond will pay investors 6% gross interest per year, with a minimum investment of £50. It is also available within the tax-efficient Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) wrapper. As with all investments, interest payments and return of capital are not guaranteed and like all ISAs, the IFISA is subject to eligibility criteria.
Not only will investors play a part in wildlife education and conservation in Scotland, but they will also be supporting the creation and expansion of native woodlands that will help tackle climate breakdown by soaking up carbon dioxide.
Diana Gerry, corporate finance manager at Triodos Bank UK, added: “We know that many people across the country have a passion for protecting the UK’s native wildlife and are interested in seeing how rewilding can play a part in tackling the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. With a £50 minimum investment, this bond offer is accessible to a wide range of investors and supporters, giving them the opportunity to align their money with a love for nature, make returns and support an innovative and inspiring charity. We’re really pleased to be helping Trees for Life in bringing about the world’s first rewilding centre.”
Working with over 5,000 volunteers, Trees for Life has established nearly two million trees across 44 tree planting sites over the last 25 years. Recent achievements include a 50% increase in black grouse, golden eagles nesting for the first time in 40 years at Dundreggan and over 200 red squirrels reintroduced and flourishing at sites across the northwest Highlands.
Triodos Bank UK have devoted resources to developing investments in the restoration of nature since 2018 and this is the first project to come to fruition. The bank is also lead advisor on four national pilot projects for Nature Based Investment with the first nearing completion, and also expects to announce its own first direct loan to a rewilding project in the near future.