The Rescue of a Wild Land
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Nature writing & gardening
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'
Introduces a strong voice in nature writing to the world. A cracker ... The equivalent of Isabella Tree's excellent Wilding, but for the Scottish uplands - Scots pines, red deer, golden eagles, mountains, lochs, and a very large area ... This is a great achievement, it's about more than this wonderful location. It's a compelling and enjoyable read ... and deserves to win prizes
Standing Up for Nature blog
Painting writes both clearly and often entrancingly. ... I commend this book strongly. You will learn a lot. ... Painting is not dogmatic; he invites you to think and indeed argue
The tone is companionable, humorous and buoyant ... when I next visit the Cairngorms, I’ll do so with a deeper understanding and appreciation of its beauty
Andrew's enthusiasm and love for the Cairngorms shines through ... These pages are a testimony to the miracles which can materialise when different interests with often radically divergent views come together for the common good
Press & Journal
Regeneration is the painfully honest but ultimately inspirational story of the transformation of Mar Lodge by a dedicated team of ecologists, stalkers, rangers and other estate workers. Andrew Painting is an outstanding new nature writer – and someone we will no doubt hear more from in the years to come
John Muir Trust magazine
This is Painting's first book and judging by its all-round execution, this should not be his last. ... Heartwarming and inspiring, it is thoroughly engaging, making for an educational and entertaining read
Dundee Courier, Scottish Book of the Week
Beautiful ... details the work that has occurred over the last twenty-five years on Mar Lodge Estate and long-term regeneration efforts. There is a lot to be learned from this book even if you have prior knowledge of environmental conservation
Mar Lodge Estate has come to represent potentially the future of what Scotland's wildlife, mountains and hillside look like ... a fascinating mix of conservation, sporting interests and inevitably for somewhere so beautiful, the management of people ... Andrew Painting is immersed in what’s going on, there are all sorts of threads and lines underground, above ground, in the water, up the hills – he just gets it holistically
BBC Radio Scotland, Out of Doors
Marvellously evokes the Cairngorm landscape, the thin tapestry of plants and animals that clothe massive geological landforms. Painting's deft use of anecdote and humour lightens this narrative of a landscape that has been used and over-used as a resource for centuries ... This is a tale of hope, the story of the small and often overlooked aspects of nature as much as the grand and iconic
Painting bores into the heart of Scottish conservation … and brings a rare and balanced viewpoint to this fraught world. Environmentalists want more diverse landscapes, more resilient to our changing climate, while fans of Highlands sport – to many, the essence of Scottish identity – would like it to long continue. Mar Lodge's success shows that they are not incompatible if groups tread lightly and seek to understand each other's beliefs
Engaging, meticulously researched ... Regeneration demonstrates that a future is possible for Scotland’s uplands in which rewilding, deer stalking, tourism, communities, and even grouse shooting can coexist in harmony
The Great Outdoors
My book of the year…Painting writes with style and verve…the details spell out what makes Mar Lodge so critical for the future: this estate has brought about a successful marriage of traditional Highland sports and ecological restoration
Painting – a wonderful writer – is clearly passionate about nature conservation, and is fearless in his discussions of land ownership and land management in the Highlands
Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal
If you have ever wondered what happened to all that land at Mar Lodge that the National Trust for Scotland took over in 1995, then this is the book for you… A great read
About the Book
Longlisted for the Highland Book Prize 2021
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?
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