Saving Our Wild Isles

Cairngorms Connect is featured in the brand-new documentary Saving Our Wild Isles narrated by Sir David Attenborough that tells a story of hope in a time of crisis for nature.

The wait is finally over, and we are so excited to share that the work of Cairngorms Connect is highlighted in the new documentary Saving Our Wild Isles, narrated by the one and only Sir David Attenborough. Commissioned by the RSPB, the WWF, and the National Trust, this hour-long film was produced by Silverback Films.

Saving Our Wild Isles tells a story of hope in a time of crisis for nature in the UK. It shines a spotlight on people across the UK working hard to save nature and Cairngorms Connect staff and projects are front and centre.

“Cairngorms Connect has a bold and ambitious aim to restore habitat across 600 sq kilometres of the Cairngorms National Park. Landowners here are working together across this vast area to connect pockets of valuable habitat creating wildlife corridors and resilient ecosystems. Restoring a landscape of this size is a team effort,” recounts Sir David Attenborough in Saving Our Wild Isles.  


Volunteer Kate plants a downy willow seedling in the Loch A'an basin during the Willow Walk. © Ben Cherry / Silverback Films

And what a team effort! In the film, we see staff and volunteers on Cairngorms Connect’s ‘Willow Walk’ – a mass volunteer effort to carrying Downy Willow saplings into the Cairngorm Mountains as part of the landscape-wide plan to restore native woodlands.

Ronan Dugan Wildland Limited Conservation AssistantRonan Dougan, Wildland Limited Conservation Assistant, watches for birds of prey including golden eagles, peregrine falcons and hen harriers.  © Ben Cherry / Silverback Films 

The film team then caught up with Ronan Dugan, Wildland Limited Conservation Assistant, who talks about Deer management, Forest regeneration, and the Hen Harriers that have started breeding locally once more.

Ronan said: “Cairngorms Connect is home for me: I was brought up at Abernethy and am now living and working on Wildland at the other end of the partnership. Conservation, in all its forms, has become a lifestyle for me and I am excited to see our landscape and projects become a role model for many other places and to inspire others.”

Ellie Dimambro-Denson Cairngorms Connect Monitoring Officer Cairngorms Connect Monitoring Officer Ellie Dimambro-Denson identifies moths as part of an ongoing insect monitoring project. © Ben Cherry / Silverback Films 

Also featured is Cairngorms Connect Monitoring Officer Ellie Dimambro-Denson. The documentary follows her in Forestry and Land Scotland’s Glenmore Forest Park, monitoring key indicator species to ensure that the habitat restoration being conducted is really delivering for nature.

Ellie said “It was a real honour for Cairngorms Connect and the monitoring work our team’s been completing to be featured in the documentary alongside so many important projects from across the country,”

“Completing surveys to track restoration in a project on as large a scale as within Cairngorms Connect means heading out, often alone, into remote corners of the uplands and mountains, usually only accompanied by meadow pipits and (if the conditions are just right), some moths to share the sunrise with. So, heading out into the hills to complete a survey alongside a film crew (and later setting up a studio in my flat for the interview as the weather deteriorated outside) was a rather surreal experience! The team were fantastic though, and it was a joy to be out with them,”


Ellie watches the sun rise in Forestry and Land Scotland’s Glenmore Forest Park. © Ben Cherry / Silverback Films

“Bringing the project and science supporting it into greater visibility is really exciting. As a large-scale partnership project, a there’s a lot of work that enables landscape-scale restoration to happen beyond the work on the ground that goes unseen, from the administration and securing of funding that make the project possible to the science and monitoring that helps us to understand that what we’re doing is working in the way we want it to,”

“I find it so hopeful, working for a landscape-scale restoration project with a vision stretching across 200 years, far beyond the scale of time any of us might expect to see as individuals. Allowing natural processes to establish takes time, but spending time in the landscape across field seasons, you begin to notice small shifts. New seedlings finding their way through and above the heather as the forest begins to expand under low deer densities, species of moths that rely on those new species appearing too. There is a lot of cause for discouragement, looking at the state of nature within the UK, but looking out across the partnership area is looking out upon a landscape of hope. Hope that, importantly, is being met with action.”

5Host Megan McCubbin and panellists Ronan Dugan, Ellie Dimambro-Denson, and Laura Howard  at the Saving Our Wild Isles screening event © Pete Short, Wild Eye Highland

On Saturday the 15th of April, we held a sold-out screening of the film and panel discussion at the Boat of Garten Community Hall. The evening was hosted by Megan McCubbin and the panel included Cairngorms Connect contributors Ellie Dimambro-Denson and Ronan Dugan, alongside Silverback Films Producer Laura Howard

See photos from the event here.

The documentary is available to watch on BBC iPlayer here.

Keep in the loop with news from Cairngorms Connect and how you can get involved by signing up for our monthly newsletter.


 Feature Image: Cameraman Ben Cherry films Ellie Dimambro-Denson setting a moth trap. © Laura Howard / Silverback Films



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