Am Bratach No. 327
January 2019
editor@bratach.co.uk



Wildland manifesto published by Povlsen’s estates

Until lately, Anders Holch Povlsen’s Wildland estates — the largest area of Scottish land in private ownership — remained relatively elusive territory. The acreages added up, staff gave periodic interviews outlining the organisation’s two-hundred year vision for the restoration of its landholdings, and planning applications rolled in for the renovation of ageing cottages and shooting lodges.

Now, with the launch of a corporate website (wildland.scot), Wildland has boldly committed its agenda to public scrutiny. Peppered with quotations from writers as diverse as Aristotle and Sylvia Plath and imagery worthy of Landseer, the site sets out a Romantic vision for restoring large swathes of the Highlands to “their former magnificent natural state”.

While attributing the loss of natural habitats to centuries of human harm, Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen also profess a deep commitment to “the concept of community”. This, they suggest, is fundamentally about “opportunities for people to enjoy the heartening warmth of a connection”. Previously criticised for favouring conservation at the expense of economic development, Wildland says that it now “has a clear enough grasp of its goals” that it feels “able to make a firm commitment to being an active participant” in neighbouring communities.

Among the “community” projects promoted on the website are a “joint master-planning exercise for the village of Tongue”, involving NHS Highland, the Highland Council and the Highland Small Housing Community Trust. Elsewhere, the estate says it has provided funds for the employment of a local affordable housing officer, as well as a minibus for school and village use, to be decorated with Wildland branding.

Setting out its conservation agenda, Wildland’s linguistic register is unashamedly lyrical, in the style of conservation guru John Muir. “Keep close to nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in a while,” is the sage advice quoted in large letters on one webpage. “The heart soars when the rebirth of these lands sees wildlife return,” is a further specimen. “Sounds of rivers rushing and a sight of summer swallows swooping all suggests [sic.] a soul stirring with eager vitality.”

Wildland’s most recent acquisition is Kinrara estate in the Cairngorm national park. Kinrara is intended to become the headquarters of Wildland’s operation, with an office, boardroom, entertainment and exhibition space. Commenting on the purchase, Tim Kirkwood, chief executive officer of Wildland Ltd said: “With a growing workforce and an increasingly prominent role in the care of Scotland’s landscapes, we wanted a head office that better reflected who we are and represents our vision for people, enterprise and sustainability in rural Scotland.”

The organisation currently employs more than sixty people across its landholdings in Scotland, which stretch from Glen Feshie to Tongue. Wildland also owns Braeroy estate in the west near Fort William and Aldourie Castle by Loch Ness. Overseas, it has holdings in Romania, Tanzania, Botswana and Rwanda, where it is seeking to prove that wildlife and human settlement can “thrive in harmony”. 

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