Villagers on Scotland’s west coast have acquired land from a rewilding firm to create community homes and workspaces while helping to restore local ecosystems.
Conservation company Highlands Rewilding recently purchased a 3,336-acre private estate in the fishing village of Tayvallich, which is home to around 200 people. The rewilding group will focus on the restoration of natural environments there.
They also sold about 47 acres of the land to the Tayvallich Initiative, a newly formed community group, reported Scottish news outlet The Herald.
This remote community struggles to keep its residents because of a lack of affordable housing and jobs, according to The Scotsman newspaper. The Tayvallich Initiative plans to tackle these obstacles by using the newly acquired land to develop community-owned housing and workspaces.
According to its website, the group also hopes to support various other endeavors like market gardening; community orchards; and the production of low-impact, locally produced beef, lamb, and venison.
“Reversing depopulation and maintaining and developing employment in the area are key concerns, while also maintaining the area’s natural richness and responding and adapting to the climate and biodiversity emergencies,” a representative of the Tayvallich Initiative said, per The Scotsman. “Our aspirations here align with Highlands Rewilding.”
According to Highlands Rewilding, the larger estate includes patches of ancient Atlantic temperate rainforest, and restoring these forests will be one of its main conservation priorities. The coastal site also contains a variety of other habitats, including varied coastline, open sea, grasslands, and wetlands.
It’s not unheard of for a conservation organization to take over previously privately owned land. For example, one family donated more than 200 acres of pristine natural land to rare Charitable Research Reserve, a community-based urban land trust in Ontario. The area is home to birds, deer, coyotes, and many other animals.
Similarly, one wealthy couple spent more than $345 million on private land in Chile and Argentina only to gift it back to the two governments. The surprising move helped to create or enlarge six national parks and was part of an effort to conserve 14.7 million acres of land and 30 million marine acres.
As for the land deal between Highlands Rewilding and locals, “We see it as a win-win for both communities and private landowners, working together to achieve joint aspirations for nature recovery and community prosperity,” said Jeremy Leggett, founder and chief executive of Highlands Rewilding, per The Scotsman.
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