Farm rewilding project aims to be first of its kind in Scotland

Almost 20 years after spearheading the reintroduction of the beaver to Scotland, Bamff Estate in Perthshire now aims to go further with a pioneering rewilding project to help tackle the nature and climate crises.

Led by a mother and daughter team, the family-run upland farm aims to create Bamff Wildland by rewilding 450 acres – with 12 fields, six woods and some of the UK’s most impressive beaver territories transformed into a nature-rich connected area of land.

Sheep have been removed from the fields, and after a fallow year the land will be linked to the woods and beaver wetlands to form a single rewilding zone – the first of its kind in Scotland.

Small numbers of native breeds of pigs, cattle and ponies as proxies for their wild ancestors, will be introduced to create a dynamic mosaic of diverse habitats through conservation grazing.

Once successful, the animals will be able to roam freely across the whole 450 acres, in an approach shown to be critical for nature to thrive.

Formerly a beaver reintroduction site, Bamff Estate now aims to be Scotland’s first farming rewilding site. (Dave Maric)

A crowdfunder, which aims to make Bamff Wildland a reality, hopes to raise at least £24,000 by 2 May.

Funds are needed to kickstart the project and would see a perimeter fence replace the estate’s internal fencing.

Although the work is all being done for public benefit, much of it is not eligible for government funding.  

Sophie Ramsay of Bamff Wildland said farmers and landowners “have a responsibility” to respond to the climate crises and their affect on wildlife numbers.

“Rewilding is a powerful way of restoring nature to boost wildlife, soak up carbon dioxide and tackle climate breakdown impacts such as flooding and drought. More ambition for large-scale rewilding on less productive farmland is needed now, across the countryside,” she said.

The initiative is inspired by the Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex, where – as described by Isabella Tree in her best-selling book Wilding – “putting nature back in the driving seat” has led to remarkable increases in wildlife, including nationally and internationally endangered species. 

Sophie Ramsay (pictured) said “more ambition” for larger scale rewilding on farmland that is less productive is needed. (Sophie Ramsay)

The Wildland’s crowdfunder, which launched on April 1, has already met over 80% of the initial target with just under two weeks to go – attracting donations of all sizes and many supportive comments and shares on social media.

Rewards for donations include the chance to ‘Adopt a Copse’ or ‘Become a Founding Bamff Rewilder’. 

Sophie says the “average sized landholding” could “be an example” for many similar farms, and says they will still grow foods on other parts of the farm.

“We believe in more land given over for rewilding, and for connectivity of habitat but also in the importance of local food production.

“Our crowdfunder is also helping to demonstrate how public support for rewilding is growing. We hope this will encourage the Scottish Government to support widespread rewilding on marginal land across Scotland, to help meet our climate and biodiversity targets in a cost-effective way.

A drone image of the 450 acre site. (Dave Maric)

“Every single donation will make a difference. It’s an opportunity for people to be part of a groundbreaking project to benefit nature, climate and people.”

Future plans for Bamff Wildland include the creation of ponds, planting of native woodlands and wildflower areas, and erection of osprey platforms.

The family has also outlined plans to eventually reintroduce rare or locally extinct amphibian species such as the agile frog, pool frog, moor frog and great crested newt. 

New walking trails across the estate are being created this summer to add to the existing access.

You can support the crowdfunder and learn more about the plans on Bamff Wildlife’s website.

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