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European beaver
Photo by Derek Gow


European lynx

Eurasian lynx
Photo by Peter Cairns


Wild boar sow amongst Scots pines, at the Guisachan Wild Boar Project site. Photo by Liz Balharry.

Wild boar sow at Guisachan
Photo by Liz Balharry



Photo by Peter Cairns

Missing Species of the Caledonian Forest Wild, free and coming back?

The return of key species to Scotland ...What? Where? How?

Hosted by the Wildland Network and Trees for Life
Findhorn, Forres, nr Inverness, 16 & 17 September 2008

This two day conference examined the action required to achieve further reintroductions of key species to Scotland. The event featured presentations, workshops, a debate, photographic exhibition, story telling and was followed by optional field trips to:

An exhibition of photographs by Tooth & Claw was present throughout the event.

See the full conference programme.


Proceedings, copied from the Wildlands Network site at Click the links for PDF files of writeups.

16 September

Reintroductions - what do you want to have happened in 10 years' time?
As participants arrived they jotted down what they wanted to see happen in 10 years

Presentations & Discussion

Bird reintroductions in the British Isles - Lessons from recent experience
Roy Dennis, Highland Foundation for Wildlife
Questions and discussion

Beaver reintroduction in Scotland - Progress and prospects
Iain Valentine, Head of Animals, Education and Conservation, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
Questions and discussion

Facing the predator - are we ready?
Peter Cairns, Tooth and Claw
Questions and discussion

Scotland's missing mammals - Targets & visions for their return
Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life
Questions and discussion

Workshops on species re-introductions

Participants discussed 'What? Where? How?' for:

  • Beaver
  • Lynx
  • Wolf
  • Herbivores

Workshops write up

17 September

Restoring whole ecosystems - What's happening in Scotland?
Key issues from 3 examples:

  • Alladale: Hugh Fullerton-Smith, Manager, Alladale Wilderness Reserve
  • Carrifran: Philip Ashmole, Co-ordinator, and Hugh Chalmers, Project Officer, Carrifran Wildwood Project
  • Glen Affric: Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life, and Liz Balharry, coordinator of wild boar grazing project

Questions and discussion

The lore of Fauna Celtica - old and new
Kenny Taylor

Workshop Option A: Returning creatures - the new folklore
Workshop write up

Workshop Option B: Returning creatures - the politics
Workshop write up

Workshops on issues:

What have we learnt? - Final reflection from Peter Taylor

It's cool to be wild

  • There is a history we are a part of. In 1988 some of us were here for the Science and the magic or surprise conference. In 1996 some of us went to Brittany to see beaver re-introductions.
  • In the North American tradition, the beaver holds the power to lay foundations - and creates habitat for the pond-loving elk
  • Then the elk provides prey for the wolf
  • And further in shamanic tradition - the bear is the keeper of the dream - which in Britain is symbolised by Arthur (celtic tribal - 'bear-king') - who sleeps and holds the dream of Albion, a time when true consciousness re-awakens - meaning a conscious relationship to the land and its divinity
  • Trees for Life have always been clear about the whole dream, reintroductions as well as trees
  • The Wildland Network networks experience and passion to feed the action, to support developing vision into action
  • Now we all need to be bolder, to challenge the economist paradigm
  • We need to integrate left brain and right brain - the cultural and the scientific - to create a whole approach
  • And we need to recognise we are healing our selves as well as healing the land.
  • We need to involve all, and have an opportunity, to avoid polarity (any 'us and them') eg. by providing incentives (positive funding) from the beginning
  • And to provide the right infrastructure to harvest gains and benefits.
  • The urban mentality has to be engaged. Working with primary school children is fine, but secondary school age young people then lose it. It needs to be cool to be wild - OK to be wild.
  • Now we need to use our many skills and breadth of experience to find our different ways to this (wilding with reintroductions...)
  • Lets speed up and recognise the point made by Roy Dennis in response to Alan Watson Featherstone's proposals... that 2043 is a long way ahead. We need to change now.

Final comments

Setting up reintroductions working groups and other next steps - conference outcomes

Evening Debate

'The return of the wolf - is Scotland's psyche ready?' write up

Pictures from the meeting and field visits are available here

Reports in the press

A number of newspapers printed articles on the conference. These can be read by following the links below:

Return to Missing Species of the Caledonian Forest.

Related Pages

Sites associated with this conference

Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

Trees for Life is a registered charity Scottish charity No. SC021303, and a company limited by guarantee No. 143304 with its registered offices at Forres, Scotland.
VAT reg. No. 605079649
Photos © Alan Watson (unless otherwise indicated) - Banner Credits - Illustrations © Caragh McAuley

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