Woodland Trust Scotland has completed the purchase of the 4,500-acre Couldoran Estate in Wester Ross.

The charity used financial reserves to finalise the purchase and continues to fundraise to cover the cost of buying the​ estate and managing it in the years ahead. The purchase price was £3.5m with a further £4.5m required to create native woodlands and transform the site for people and wildlife.

So far the fundraising appeal has raised £600,000 from Trust supporters.

Couldoran, near Lochcarron, neighbours the Trust's existing site at Ben Shieldaig and the two will be managed jointly.

Woodland Trust Scotland director Alastair Seaman said:

“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 doubles 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 1,000 acres of new native woodland of Scots pine, aspen, downy birch, rowan, willow and alder could be created, with the rest remaining open ground.

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 and other ancient Caledonian pinewood remnants in the area. 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.

Alastair Seaman continued:

“Our vision is to manage Couldoran jointly with Ben Shieldaig as one huge mountainous estate. We want to establish a healthy and resilient mosaic of habitats across the entire catchment. This will include creating and restoring thriving native and montane woodland, with carefully planted trees and natural regeneration, gradually removing invasive species, and protecting peatland and blanket bog.

“Access is an important part of our aspiration. A couple of informal tracks exist. We want to upgrade this and improve public access into an area with spectacular views, but which currently attracts few walkers.

“Continuing our approach at Ben Shieldaig, the Trust will consult with local people and neighbouring landowners on our plans and provide opportunities for people to have their say and get involved.”

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.

Accessible via the A986 between Lochcarron and Shieldaig, it is about 90 minutes drive from Inverness. It sits at the foot of the striking Corbett Beinn Bhàn (whose eastern corries offer an energetic summit scrambling challenge for hillwalkers); it overlooks the start of the Bealach na Bà to Applecross (one of the steepest roads in the UK).

Notes to editors

For further information contact George Anderson on 07770 700631.

Woodland Trust Scotland is part of the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. The Woodland Trust has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 29,000 hectares. In 1984, the Trust acquired its first wood in Scotland. Today it owns and cares for some 60 sites covering more than 8,000 hectares across Scotland. Access to its woods is free.