Project name: Trees for Life: feasibility study
Location: Dundreggan, the Highlands
CARES funding: CARES Innovation Funding £5,000, 50% match-funded


Trees for Life (TFL) is a registered Scottish charity with offices in Findhorn Bay and a 10,000-acre conservation estate in Dundreggan, 35 miles south west of Inverness.

At Dundreggan, TFL has a rewilding project which involves saving and restoring the Caledonian Forest. It does this by:

  • bringing back the wild, native forest using innovative approaches to native tree propagation and planting and encouraging natural regeneration
  • giving a helping hand to wildlife by translocating / reintroducing missing species to the forest
  • inspiring communities and individuals of all ages and abilities to be involved in rewilding by providing opportunities for enjoyment, engagement and learning.

As part of the rewilding project, TFL is planning a new centre on its conservation estate at Dundreggan. This centre will include a visitor centre, café, research and meeting space, as well as accommodation for up to 40 people, to be used for educational visits.

There are currently five main buildings on the estate, all with their own heating system (usually oil-based) with electricity supplied by the national grid. The building of the rewilding centre will see an additional three buildings on the estate.

Project aims and objectives

TFL was awarded a CARES Innovation grant (match funded) to carry out an options appraisal. The appraisal aimed to investigate and identify the most appropriate, efficient, sustainable and low carbon energy solution for its site. The appraisal would also need to provide a clear recommendation and costs of installation to allow TFL to apply for funding for the capital stage.

Outcomes and achievements

After receiving the CARES grant, and with support from Local Energy Scotland Development Officers, TFL produced a tender document. This was sent to three companies for quotes. A scoring matrix was created, and this was used to evaluate the tenders returned.

The appraisal report made several recommendations for low carbon energy solutions. These were: upgrading the fabric of the existing buildings on site; installing air source heat pumps; installing a biomass boiler; installing solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels; and installing electric vehicle charge points.

At the time of writing (March 2020), TFL are now in the process of raising funds for installation.