The endless potential for an ecologically restored Scotland has led me to finally decide to make the life-changing move from Yorkshire to the Highlands.
I’ve seen big changes happening in the last few years, with conservation being given much needed media exposure and re-wilding becoming a mainstream word in our consciousness.
Things finally feel like they are moving in the right direction with inspiring schemes such as the Billion Trees Scotland project from Kaitiaki Consulting and the impressive Cairngorms Connect partnership, all sat alongside recent positive news such as the Green Deal and a push for green jobs along with new legislation to protect mountain hares.
I have found a catalyst for my move and arguably many others feel the same – those who now are seeking a wilder life away from cities searching for a more sustainable, outdoor lifestyle.
Having worked as an Ecologist and GIS consultant for the last nine years with the majority of work covering large infrastructure and development projects particularly the midlands of England, it’s been easy to get complacent and feel demoralised surveying for development.
Ultimately the end result of these projects could be loss of the habitat in question and in the best case scenario a token amount of offsetting.
However, Scotland has the capacity to incorporate ecological restoration, species re-introductions and re-wilding objectives into large-scale landscape management that arguably couldn’t be done at such a scale in England.
It has the space and land ownership capacity to fulfil large-scale biodiversity offsetting quotas.
I ventured up to the Highlands soon after graduating to volunteer with the pioneering charity Trees for Life after hearing about the work studying for my undergraduate and the Wild Ennerdale partnership in the Lake District.
Trees for Life left a lasting impact on me – to thrive to work towards restoring the remnant Caledonian forest, linking up fragmented restored woodlands, surveying and supporting wildlife that rely on native woodlands such as pine marten, red squirrel and raptors, and seeing the growth of other organisations with similar aims.
I’ve since been inspired to use my skills in ecological survey of habitats and species to focus on surveying potential ecological restoration land such as sites for tree planting or peatland restoration.
Finally, the attraction and success of wildlife tourism from re-introduced species is unlike anything else in the UK, with the opportunity to see white-tailed eagles, pine marten, otters, osprey and beavers; these crucial keystone species are not only important habitat engineers but now act as public engagement tools for those drawn to these places to highlight the need for re-wilding.
I for one am a wildlife tourist now turned resident in the hope to become a Kaitiaki steward for these species and places.