Earlier this year the Aberdeenshire brewery and pub chain BrewDog bought the Kinrara Estate on Speyside for an estimated £7.5M and announced some pretty grand plans to take this former grouse moor and pheasant shoot and transform it as part of the ‘single biggest native woodland establishment and peatland restoration project ever carried out in the UK‘.
BrewDog’s purchase is apparently motivated by ‘becoming the world’s first carbon negative beer business‘ with a claim that, ‘as well as over £50m of investments in reducing our environmental impact, we are also removing twice as much carbon as we emit every year, forever‘.
You can read BrewDog founder and CEO James Watt’s announcement, made in March 2021 on LinkedIn, here. Judging by the accompanying photograph, it’s not hard to see why they’ve called this The Lost Forest project:
The Kinrara Estate was being sold via estate agents Galbraith and it was promoted as having ‘considerable afforestation and potentially valuable carbon capture opportunity‘ and ‘great conservation potential‘ (see here).
Here’s a map from Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website showing the estimated estate boundary (in blue, from 2002 data), with the southern part of the estate lying within the Cairngorms National Park close to Aviemore [Park boundary is in yellow] and the northern part extending into the Monadhliath Mountains.
Last week, the grouse shooting industry finally caught up with BrewDog’s progressive plans and guess what, it didn’t like them.
Right on cue, the hysteria button was pressed and social media has been rife with calls for a BrewDog boycott, personal abuse of its founders and a scaremongering headline in The Times that looked like this:
Unsurprisingly, the headline didn’t reflect the fact that as well as a significant ecological restoration programme on this former shooting estate, BrewDog intends to create many, many more jobs at the Lost Forest by creating ‘a hotel built from sustainable cabins, a campsite, a distillery, hiking and biking trails as well as kayaking on our beautiful loch’.
According to CEO James Watt’s LinkedIn article, ‘We want the Lost Forest to enable people to reconnect with nature and by doing so become far more cognisant of the impact that we, as humans, are having on our planet‘.
Who knows, maybe the two gamekeepers reportedly made redundant since the land purchase at Kinrara will find alternative employment opportunities at the Lost Forest that don’t involve shooting animals as a recreational ‘sport’. The world is moving on and grouse shooting is heading for the history books; even some industry supporters recognise this, as demonstrated by this fascinating recent article on the ShootingUK website.
For those more interested in conservation than amateur dramatics, you’ll probably be interested in having a look at the details of BrewDog’s ecological proposals for Kinrara. BrewDog has hired Scottish Woodlands Ltd as its forestry management company and as well as ecological surveys, a public consultation on the plans is also currently underway.
The following document forms part of that public consultation and the details show an impressive approach to sensitive restoration plans: