Bunloit Rewilding operates on Bunloit Estate, Inverness-shire and Beldorney Estate, Aberdeenshire. Our purpose: enabling nature recovery & community prosperity through rewilding. While endeavouring to increase carbon sequestration and biodiversity, we want to create green local jobs and generate ethical profits to reinvest into our work and communities. We plan to donate 10% of annual net profits to local communities. Tackling the climate and biodiversity crises requires community involvement. Applying a community centric approach to rewilding, we’ve been engaging local communities by sharing our ideas and plans, requesting feedback, and exploring avenues for community involvement in education, employment and cultural/recreational activities.
Our rewilding model hopes to create new green jobs and affordable eco-homes to demonstrate a viable way forward where communities and economies thrive whilst working towards a safer future in the face of the existential threat of climate change. By exploring possible profitable rewilding business models such as natural capital credits, sustainable forestry, eco-tourism, regenerative agriculture and eco-building, we want to encourage traditional landowners to consider making changes to benefit people, nature and the planet. For these reasons, working with communities is vital to the project. Community engagement has focussed on Bunloit Estate, during Covid-19 restrictions. Reaching out was challenging without in person events. We overcame this through a community consultation website for feedback and open discussions. By initially targeting our social media at the community, making use of community Facebook groups, we advertised this website. To address the difficulty for the community in properly getting to know the team, we hosted a Q&A webinar. By putting faces to names and transparently answering questions, we cleared up misinformation and hopefully increased trust in the project. Although much feedback was positive, there has been some opposition from a few immediate neighbours on Bunloit Hill, concerned about our ideas for a small number of eco-buildings. To address this challenge, we acknowledged their concerns, corrected misinformation and explored options for compromise. By consulting on ideas rather than a plan, it will be possible to draw on feedback to shape a final plan.