Excessive grazing by wild deer and livestock is damaging the woodlands of our Highland glens – threatening their future existence.

Between 1940 and 2000, the number of red deer rose by a staggering 60%. It is estimated that around ¼ million deer now live in Scottish woodlands.

Vulnerable seedlings such as oak, ash and Scots pine are eaten before they can take hold, juvenile trees become stunted and even mature trees are damaged by bark stripping. But a woodland is much more than simply trees.

Healthy native woodlands are home to a wealth of plants, animals and insects. They also help control flooding, improve water quality and act as a valuable store of carbon. All of this is at risk.

Today, we have an opportunity to re-establish vibrant woodlands through effective deer management, but we need your help.

Sustainable deer management helps our wildlife

There have been no large predators in Scotland for hundreds of years; but deer numbers can still be reduced to more natural levels. In lower numbers, deer can have a positive effect in shaping our woodland habitats. This will take planning, cooperation… and a bit of time.

With your help, we will work with landowners and managers to support the sustainable management of wild deer in the Coigach-Assynt area of north west Sutherland.

If we can raise £15,000 it will unlock almost £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage to kick-start this work.

Give a gift today and help us reach our target. Help bring about positive change.

The natural balance is disrupted

The ancient woodlands and forests of Scotland were once teeming with life. The forest plants supported deer, red squirrel and a huge range of small mammals, birds and insects.

Because wolves and lynx kept the number of large herbivores in check, grazing was intermittent and damaged habitats had a chance to regenerate naturally. Back then, grazing by deer played an important role in maintaining a mixture of types and size of plants and trees.

Man’s influence across the centuries has altered many of Scotland’s habitats beyond recognition. Too many Scottish woodlands are now grazed at a level which is reducing new tree growth. When the natural balance of our upland ecosystems is broken many native plants, insects and mammals struggle to survive

Help us to re-establish wildlife-rich native woodlands.


Deer-Woodland Balance 2

Help tip the scales in favour of native woodlands

With your help, we want to set a new equilibrium in Coigach and Assynt, providing a model for deer management throughout Scotland. We need to gather reliable data on local deer numbers and distribution, train local people in sustainable deer management techniques and monitor the impact of our work on plants and wildlife in the area.

By donating today, you can help make this dream a reality.


£45 – could help establish a plot to monitor habitat changes over the next 5 years

£95 – could help pay for computer modelling of deer movement and populations

£295 – could pay for Deer Stalking Certification for 1 professional stalker

£550 – could train 1 person in Sustainable Deer Management

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top