Written by Sophia Scott Co-Founder, GroundTruth Productions & GROUNDTRUTH Global
It was a much needed escape from London landing into Inverness airport, seeing the open sea as we neared the runway, vast trees and the rolling hills of northern Scotland. Covid has made us all think much more closely about the proximity of wildlife and humans, our impact on this earth and how much we need to change to ensure a more sustainable and healthy future. As a company and individually we clean up our carbon footprint at the end of each year with our partner Wildlife Works, trying to leave the smallest possible footprint.
Meeting Paul Lister at the door of his beautiful Alladale Nature Reserve was a breath of fresh air. His laid back and friendly approach made us immediately feel at home. The staff were friendly and despite the Covid precautions of mask and hand sanitizers, we were welcomed non the less with a tasty glass of pimms.
Dinner was served promptly at 630pm and we were ushered into the dinning room with spectacular views over the 23,000 acre tree reserve. Local venison was on the menu, usually opting for a vegetarian diet, we were happy to try this local delicacy, knowing that the deer roam free and in abundance all year round. Hunting deer here helps keep the number down which in essence helps allow the new trees to grow.
It was a pleasure to be joined by Brian, a herbalist who happened to be visiting Paul at the same time, we spent the first morning driving out visiting the different areas of the reserve. Paul and Brian were discussing the herbal remedies for many ailments, and it was fascinating to hear both of their experiences with nature.
Scotland was once wild and teaming with diverse plant and animal life, but today most of that wilderness has been destroyed. Overhunting caused the extinction of large predators like the wolf which in turn increased the numbers of deer unsustainably causing massive over grazing which led to no natural forest growth, that mixed with deforestation for our consumption has led to vast barren landscapes.
That’s why the work of Paul Lister and his team is so important here - they are planting over 900,000 native trees reforesting UK’s oldest Caledonian pine forest. They are also starting wildcat breeding programs to reintroduce some of Scotland’s indigenous cats - wolves and bears could follow. There is always hope for nature when people chose to change, we can reverse the negative effects and work collaboratively to bring back nature to her former glory, or at least partially.
Our second day was spent seeing the different landscapes including wild salmon swimming up stream. Paul and his trusted manager Innes were our guides for an adventurous walk explaining about their ambitious projects.
Check out our short film on our time up in Alladale:
It was great to be using our GROUNDTRUTH bags out in the field, always putting them to the test and seeing what others think of them – Paul chose to wear the RIKR 24L here with convenient water bottle access in the side. We were also using our camera bag and Technical Tote for comfortable and easy access to all our camera kit.
Being out in nature just levels you, whether far or close, nature is usually on your doorstep if you chose to see.