The unique land deal that will see new homes built and rewilding at remote Scottish beauty spot

A special land sale deal is being hailed as a win-win for people and the planet

A new charity has taken ownership of a 635-hectare chunk of land that will be used to provide much-needed local housing and nature recovery on a grand scale after a landmark deal with an eco-company.

Barrahormid Trust has bought half of the 1,350-hectare Tayvallich estate from pioneering ‘mass-ownership’ company Highlands Rewilding, which bought it last year for £10.5 million.

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The deal means the charity will hold the land for nature restoration and community prosperity “in perpetuity”, with a long-term operating lease set up with Highlands Rewilding – whose mission is to bolster communities and make a profit for investors through ecological restoration.

The land at Barrahormid hosts a farmhouse, farm buildings and the remains of nine crofts with several ruined properties. It is also home to rare wildlife and habitats, including native juniper bushes, Celtic rainforest and marsh fritillary butterflies, with a series of designated conservation areas.

The deal locks in the commitment to manage the land for carbon capture, biodiversity uplift and delivery of benefits to local people “essentially forever” – something the company said it could not guarantee if it retained ownership.

Nature adapts slowly, but we can act now to give it the best chance for long-term success,” said Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Highlands Rewilding.

“When we work with nature, we work with necessarily long timelines, something which is too often lost in today’s economics, but which can be guaranteed through this sale of land, not to a private landowner but to a charity.

A landmark deal sees a new charity take ownership of 625 hectares of land at Barrahormid, on the Tayvallich estate in Argyll, with commitment to nature restoration and community regeneration locked inA landmark deal sees a new charity take ownership of 625 hectares of land at Barrahormid, on the Tayvallich estate in Argyll, with commitment to nature restoration and community regeneration locked in
A landmark deal sees a new charity take ownership of 625 hectares of land at Barrahormid, on the Tayvallich estate in Argyll, with commitment to nature restoration and community regeneration locked in

“If Highlands Rewilding were to fail in its mission, and we do not believe that it will, the charity and its purpose of nature recovery and community prosperity will continue on, safeguarding the land and boosting the chances for the long-term success of rewilding.”

The village of Tayvallich, set in stunning surroundings on the shores of Loch Sween in the Knapdale area, is home to around 200 people. But like many small communities in remote parts of Scotland, there is an ongoing struggle to keep people living there due to a shortage of affordable housing and jobs.

A spokesperson for Barrahormid Trust said: “Our aims as a charity are to restore and protect in perpetuity the unique natural environment in this area, including Celtic rainforest, fen and wildflower meadows, whilst providing opportunities for local repopulation and employment.

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There are remains of nine old crofts on the land at Barrahormid, including this former settlement at North ArdbegThere are remains of nine old crofts on the land at Barrahormid, including this former settlement at North Ardbeg
There are remains of nine old crofts on the land at Barrahormid, including this former settlement at North Ardbeg

“Landscape-scale restoration will be a centuries-long process and we hope the extended management agreement we have entered into with Highlands Rewilding will serve as a model for ecological conservation and restoration with community benefit in Scotland.”

The sale comes following a previous deal, which saw Highlands Rewilding, which also owns two other rewilding estates – Beldorney in Aberdeenshire and Bunloit in Inverness-shire – sell two smaller plots of land to Tayvallich Initiative community group, also for provision of housing.

The group has commended the latest sale, which it says will help keep people in the area by creating housing for primary residences rather than second homes or holiday lets.

The land at Barrahormid hosts a farmhouse, farm buildings and the remains of nine crofts with several ruined properties – there are plans for these to be redeveloped to provide much-needed homes for localsThe land at Barrahormid hosts a farmhouse, farm buildings and the remains of nine crofts with several ruined properties – there are plans for these to be redeveloped to provide much-needed homes for locals
The land at Barrahormid hosts a farmhouse, farm buildings and the remains of nine crofts with several ruined properties – there are plans for these to be redeveloped to provide much-needed homes for locals

A spokesperson said: “This is a great opportunity for potential development of other plots and ruined developments on the Tayvallich estate that will help to fulfil Highlands Rewilding and Tayvallich Initiative’s desire for nature recovery and community prosperity with repopulation.”

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