'If you cut down a rowan tree, should you ask permission from the sìthean, or
fairies? Yes. Does a scarab-shaped woodland dor beetle squeak when you pick it
up? Yes. Does each of the 18 letters in the Gaelic alphabet have a tree
associated with it? Yes. Is the brown long-eared bat's hearing so good it can
make out the pitter-patter-pit-pat of an insect walking on a leaf? Yes. Can you
eat bracken? Yes. Should you eat bracken? No.
Woodland trivia like this is the stock in trade of Michael Durrance of Trees
for Life, an environmental charity in the Scottish Highlands, and the seasonal
ecologist is an authority on the trees and insects, bats and brackens of the
Dundreggan Estate, found west of Loch Ness in Glen Moriston's denuded hills.
"People in the Highlands used to fry-up bracken fiddleheads, but it's not good
for you," he said, as we followed a pathway that disappeared into silver birch
and larch trees. "It's full of carcinogens and can make you nauseous, dizzy and
give you a bad headache. So do it at your peril.
While Durrance's role is to educate visitors on the mysteries and unknowns of
the Highlands' landscapes during guided walks across the 10,000-acre estate, he
is also a steward of the charity's new Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, which
opened in April 2023. Rewilding is the rehabilitation of ecosystems that can
triumph and flourish without human interference, and the landmark attraction is
both wildly ambitious and a bold statement of intent.
In fact, it is the first rewilding centre in the world.'
Via Future Crunch
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics