Rewilding the Scottish Highlands

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Rewilding the Scottish Highlands

In Northern Scotland, scientists are working to rewild the Scottish Highlands – from planting native trees and plants, to reinstating native animal species that were exterminated.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

In most of the Scottish Highlands, red deer and domestic sheep have significantly damaged heather and forest communities. This damage is related to the extermination of carnivores that preyed on these species, namely wolves.

Around 2,000 years ago, deforestation, the elimination of native fauna (such as wolves and brown bears), and the introduction of non-native livestock began, creating broad-scale dewilding.


The data collected will help determine whether to reintroduce wolves and brown bears to this iconic landscape.

Without monitoring and an adaptive management strategy, ecological restoration often fails or falls short of goals. The research conducted on this project will ensure that the investment that Alladale and The European Nature Trust (TENT) have made will be maximally supported by science and will optimally support and advance future rewilding efforts, and will help support management and conservation efforts.

This project will significantly contribute to conserving, restoring, and maintaining habitats, particularly northern native woodlands in Scotland, and also blanket peat. The data collected will inform future additional ecological restoration treatments of these habitats, as the Alladale Wilderness Reserve team work to return this landscape to its historical trajectory, with a mixture of peatland, woodland, and multi-aged stands of trees and multi-aged heath communities that in combination will create a more ecologically resilient system.

About the research area

Alladale Wilderness Reserve, United Kingdom, Europe & Russia

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Research Associate, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

ABOUT Cristina Eisenberg

Dr. Eisenberg, a forest ecologist and wildlife ecologist, became interested in wolves when this keystone species returned naturally to the remote part of Montana where she and her family have lived for over two decades.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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