Trust Launches £8M Appeal for Couldoran Estate
Woodland Trust Scotland has launched an £8million public appeal to buy the 4,500-acre Couldoran Estate in Wester Ross and manage it for people and wildlife over the coming decades.
Couldoran, near Lochcarron, neighbours our existing site at Ben Shieldaig and the two will be managed jointly.
Couldoran is in relatively poor condition. Once restoration is underway, we hope many of the iconic species we have at Ben Shieldaig will flood back in.
Securing Couldoran will double the area under our management at Shieldaig, increasing potential to bring back more of the native woods that once featured across the wider landscape.
An initial walkover survey has revealed over 1000 acres of new native woodland of Scots pine, aspen, downy birch, rowan, willow and alder could be created with the rest remaining open ground.
The Trust also intends to establish montane scrub species such as dwarf birch and dwarf willow that grow at high altitude to provide a fringe to the natural treeline.
Restoring the woodland at Couldoran will help connect important nearby sites creating a “nature highway” along Glen Shieldaig. This will link the Shieldaig Pinewood Site of Special Scientific Interest with Rassal Ashwood Site of Special Scientific Interest. A range of species from lichens and mosses to butterflies and red squirrels will be able to move more freely, avoiding fragmentation and isolation while gaining resilience and adaptability.
Couldoran was once part of a network of rich woodland habitats that blanketed Scotland’s west coast. Today the land is in poor condition with just pockets of native trees, clinging to inaccessible ravines and gorges. Other areas of the site are infested with invasive, non-native Rhododendron ponticum. Patches of peatland, a priceless carbon store, need protection.
Next door at Shieldaig we see birds such as golden eagle, peregrine, red throated diver, greenshank and golden plover. Pine martens, water voles, badgers, red squirrels and mountain hares have also been spotted. If we can improve canopy cover at Couldoran we expect to find many of these species moving in as their range and habitat improves and expands. Wildcats were in the area until the 1960s and we’ve heard of potential sightings more recently too. It’s exciting to think we might one day see the return of such a rare and endangered species. Beinn a Chait is one of the hills on the estate and the Gaelic name may reflect this was once “mountain of the wildcat.”
Couldoran Estate is set in the spectacular Wester Ross National Scenic Area and the Wester Ross UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, part of Scotland’s rainforest zone.
The map below shows our existing Ben Shieldaig site in red with the Couldoran extension in green.