With help from our players, Woodland Trust Scotland has bought Ben Shieldaig in Torridon, Ross and Cromarty, after a public appeal raised £1.6 Million in just over two months.
Woodland Trust has ambitious plans to expand the two rare ancient woods on the mountain, managing for both wildlife and people. Fundraising continues with a target to raise a further £3.4 Million.
Carol Evans, Woodland Trust Scotland Director, said, "This is a rare chance for us to bring a whole mountain under our care. It already supports a magnificent area of ancient Caledonian pinewood and a Scottish rainforest of native birchwood. Perhaps even more exciting is the potential to manage these within a mosaic of their natural neighbours.
"Our aim is to see native woodland, montane scrub and open moorland habitats meshing naturally with each other from sea to sky. That would encapsulate all that a restored landscape can be, not just in Torridon but across the Highlands."
The purchase price of £1.6 Million included funding of £200,000 from players of People's Postcode Lottery. A further £600,000 will also be provided towards ongoing management costs.
Sanjay Singh, Senior Programmes Manager at People's Postcode Lottery, said, "This is such an exciting opportunity for our players to support valuable work preserving and expanding Scotland's native woods - and in such a spectacular and inspiring place."
Ben Shieldaig's birch woodland, confined to the moisture-laden strip of land between the mountain and the sea, is part of a unique habitat shaped by the mild climate and clean air. This is Scotland's rainforest.
The mountain is also home to a significant remnant of ancient Caledonian pinewood - special not only because it has occupied this spot since just after the last ice age, but because it lies at the very limit of the Scots pine's northern European distribution. This is one of the most westerly remnants of native pine in Europe - quite possibly one which is genetically unique to the north-west of Scotland.
With its summit at 534 metres, Ben Shieldaig covers around 3,800 acres set in the dramatic Torridon landscape within the Wester Ross National Scenic Area. It was put on the market by its private landowner last year.
Ben Shieldaig and its surrounds feature many iconic Scottish wildlife species including sea eagle, golden eagle, red squirrel, pine marten and otter.
The Woodland Trust aims to protect and expand the unique and valuable existing native woodland at Ben Shieldaig through a combination of natural regeneration, new native planting and effective deer management. Recreational access will also be encouraged, so people can also enjoy this wonderful and unique native environment.