TODAY (1st March), Scotland’s leading rewilding project, Highlands Rewilding, has announced that it has acquired the funds needed to buy the 3,500-acre Tayvallich Estate in Argyll. The estate joins the project’s two existing rewilding sites, Bunloit in Inverness and Beldorney in Aberdeenshire.
It was revealed in December last year that Founder and CEO of Highlands Rewilding, Dr Jeremy Leggett, a former Greenpeace Director, had made an exclusive offer to buy the estate for £10.5m, with an agreement that funds needed to be raised before the end of February.
Today’s news of the funds raised also comes as the Highlands Rewilding project team extend its crowdfund and fundraising campaign for a further two months until the end of April. This decision was agreed to fully test investor sentiment on the back of its strengthened business case of adding another estate to its portfolio and leading the charge in turning Scotland’s biodiversity future around.
Highlands Rewilding are seeking capital in three ways. The first is equity from citizen rewilders, via crowdfunding. The second is equity from all-important financial institutions. The third is the rest. This includes equity from investors of the kind who invested £7.6 million in the company’s start-phase round, including 50 Founding Funders: affluent rewilding enthusiasts, family offices, foundations, trusts and forward-looking companies.
Dr Jeremy Leggett, CEO and Founder of Highlands Rewilding, said:
“The team is looking forward to the many aspects of work we will be able to do on Tayvallich. The rich tapestry of habitats onshore and offshore will provide fertile ground for our data acquisition and processing, and natural-capital verification science. The many activities we will be able to pursue with the local community will give us the chance to create an exemplar of community-company synergy and enshrine public integrity principles with ethical private interests.”
Already, the project’s crowdfund has attracted over 500 citizen rewilder investors, 40% of whom live in Scotland, who have boosted funds raised by over £800,000. While no upper limit has been set on the extension of the crowdfund and founding-funder type investment until the end of April, additional funds will allow the Highlands Rewilding team to scale nature recovery and community prosperity even more.
Dr Jeremy Leggett continued: “While we have tried and failed to attract the first major investments from investment funds, pension funds, and insurance companies, we know the appetite is there with many telling us that the project has made amazing progress, that they know there will be growth in the nature recovery market, and to revisit our conversions in six to twelve months’ time.
“Fund managers have told us that our mass ownership works well for them, because of the element of social licence it brings. Stated another way, the more that citizen rewilders invest at the £50 to £100 level, the more the financial institutions are likely to invest at the £50 million to £100 million level. This is something we’re committed to doing and when we revisit the approaches we have made this time around, we will be presenting a stronger case than ever before thanks to the success of this campaign. We will also live in hope that the Scottish Government can make the high integrity policy route to rewarding biodiversity uplift clearer by then.”
The Green Finance Institute estimates that nearly £100 billion will be needed in the UK over the next ten years to support nature-recovery targets and stop biodiversity decline by 2030. Scotland’s share of that is some £20 billion.
Dr Jeremy Leggett said: “We embarked on our campaign with trepidation, well aware of the cost-of-living crisis but it has gone better than we dared hope. I think the results we have seen gives a feel for how people long to see biodiversity collapse and climate meltdown turned around.
“At Highlands Rewilding, we dream of playing a lead role in the great diversion of investment from ruin to restoration. It’s a dream we’re slowly making a reality as we approach three years in business. Our hard work and plight to restore our nation’s biodiversity uplift is just beginning.”
Highlands Rewilding intends to close the purchase of Tayvallich Estate by the end of March. The details of the investment will be made public in due course.
Find out more about the Highlands Rewilding and the crowdfund: https://www.highlandsrewilding.co.uk/crowdfund