In 1995 the National Trust for Scotland acquired Mar Lodge Estate in the heart of the Cairngorms. Home to over 5,000 species, this vast expanse of Caledonian woodlands, subarctic mountains, bogs, moors, roaring burns and frozen lochs could be a place where environmental conservation and Highland field sports would exist in harmony. The only problem was that due to centuries of abuse by human hands, the ancient Caledonian pinewoods were dying, and it would take radical measures to save them.
After 25 years of extremely hard work, the pinewoods, bogs, moors and mountains are returning to their former glory. Regeneration is the story of this success, featuring not only the people who are protecting the land and quietly working to undo the wrongs of the past, but also the myriad creatures which inspire them to do so.
In addition, it also tackles current controversies such as raptor persecution, deer management and rewilding and asks bigger questions about the nature of conservation itself: what do we see when we look at our wild places? What should we see?
Andrew Painting grew up in the south of England and studied English at King's College, London and Environmental Anthropology at Aberdeen University. He moved to Scotland to volunteer with the RSPB and since 2016 has been Assistant Ecologist at the Mar Lodge Estate.
"Deftly weaving through the social and political complexities of nature conservation in Scotland the Regeneration of Mar Lodge is testimony to the miracles that can happen when disparate interests come together in common cause. Beautifully written, often funny, sometimes very moving, always fascinating in its historical and ecological detail, Andrew Painting has given us a gift of insight, wisdom and vaulting ambition for a wilder, richer future for the Highlands of Scotland. A hugely enjoyable and inspiring read"
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm