Formed in April 1964, the Scottish Wildlife Trust is a membership-based charity with the objective to “advance the conservation of Scotland’s biodiversity for the benefit of present and future generations.

For nearly 60 years, the Trust has grown significantly in terms of supporter-base, influence and numbers of reserves, and is today Scotland’s leading nature conservation charity.

Here are some of the Trust’s historical highlights:


1964 – Scottish Wildlife Trust is formed in Edinburgh by a group led by Sir Charles Connell.

1965 – The Trust recruits its 400th member as well as its first member of staff, Bernard Gilchrist, and launches the Scottish Wildlife journal.

1967 – The Tweed Valley ‘Branch’ becomes the first Local Group.

1968 – With over 1,700 members, the Trust’s income exceeds £5,000 for the first time. The Falls of Clyde becomes a Trust reserve.

1969 – The Trust purchases Loch of the Lowes in Dunkeld.


1973 – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visits Loch of the Lowes and Duddingston Loch. Membership exceeds 5,000 for the first time.

1974 – The Trust’s focus broadens from wildlife reserves to the wider countryside.

1976 – The Trust purchases Montrose Basin in March, and awards its first honorary memberships to Dr George Waterston and Duncan Anderson.

1977 – The Rt Hon Sir Angus Ogilvy becomes the charity’s first Patron.

1978 – The Trust is awarded a grant of £8,000 from Nature Conservation Council for environmental education.

1979 – Junior membership for ages 9-15 becomes the ‘Watch Club’. Tailend Moss in the Lothians becomes the Trust’s 50th reserve.


1981 – The Trust’s headquarters moves to Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh. The Wildlife and Countryside Act is passed after widespread campaigning.

1983 – The Trust highlights the dangers of acid rain and calls for action to combat it.

1984 – Dr David Bellamy opens the Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre.

1985 – The 21st Anniversary Appeal raises over £400,000 in less than a year.


1990 – The Duke of Rothesay becomes the Trust’s new Patron. At this time, the Trust has 84 reserves, 50 full-time staff, 150 trainees and 8,800 members. The Trust’s headquarters move to Cramond House.

1992 – Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth is opened by Magnus Magnusson.

1995 – Montrose Basin Visitor Centre officially opened to the public.

1996 – The Trust’s launches its first biodiversity campaign, the “Web of Life”.

1997 – European funding is secured for peat bog protection and restoration. Membership now stands at 13,800.


2001 – The Trust receives £3.6 million of Heritage Lottery funding to improve reserves and visitor centres.

2002 – The Trust now manages 120 reserves in Scotland.

2004 – This year sees the largest rise in membership to date, with 25,000 people now supporting the charity.

2006 – The Trust launches it’s new 25-year vision.

2008 – The Trust is involved with reintroducing beavers to Scotland for the first time in over 400 years as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial at Knapdale.

2009 – The Marine Act is passed by Scottish Government after months of campaining.

2010 onwards

2011 – The Trust exceeds 30,000 members for the first time, and achieves a turnover of £5 million. Headquarters are moved to Harbourside House in Leith.

2013 – Trust membership exceeds 35,000. The Trust organises the first World Forum on Natural Capital, attracting 500 delegates from 35 countries.

2014 – The Trust celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

2015 – The Trust organises the second World Forum on Natural Capital, attended by over 600 delegates from 45 countries. 50 for the Future is published, highlighting 50 things that the Trust would like to see happen over the next 50 years in Scotland.

2016 – The Trust launches Scotland’s first ever snorkel trail in the north west Highlands and sets out its vision for the Scottish uplands. Heritage Lottery funding worth £2.9 million is secured for the Coigach – Assynt Living Landscape Partnership. Membership exceeds 40,000 for the first time. The Scottish Government announces that beavers are to remain in Scotland following the successful Scottish Beaver Trial.

2017 – Won the Youth & Education category of the Nature of Scotland Awards for Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Engaging Communities project and won the Nature Tourism category for our North West Highlands Snorkel Trail.

2018 – Launched the fourth in our Policy Future series focusing on Living Cities.

2019 – The Scottish Government announced that beavers were to become a legally protected species.

Loch of the Lowes history
Evening visit to the Loch of Lowes hide in 1973 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Charles Connell and Bernard Gilchrist © V M Thom

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