Wild, free and coming back?

The return of key species to Scotland

What? Where? How?


Hosted by the Wildland Network and Trees for Life

at Findhorn, Forres, nr Inverness, 16-17th 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:


Alladale 18 Sept – reintroduced mammals in the Alladale Wilderness Project 

Glen Affric 19 Sept - Caledonian ecosystem restoration, & wild boar experiment 

Carrifran wildwood 20 Sept - whole ecosystem restoration in the Moffat Hills



Tues 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 on 10 years




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 Hugh Chalmers, Project Officer, Carrifran Wildwood Project


Glen Affric:   Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life, 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:


·         Perceptions of predators - workshop write up

·         Livelihoods from reintroductions - workshop write up

·         Farming and forestry issues - workshop write up

·         Game issues - workshop write up

·         Community-based reintroduction projects - workshop write up

·         Ecosystem restoration – how reintroduced species can drive it - workshop write up



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:

The Daily Telegraph

The Independent

The Scotsman