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10 Jul 2023

Treshnish Isles join the Trust

A large sea stack stands close to an island, separated only by a narrow channel. The stack has a grassy top and then a rocky base. The rocky areas are covered in seabirds.
Seabird colony on the Treshnish Isles
The Treshnish Isles have joined the portfolio of special places in our care.

The Treshnish Isles are a group of eight uninhabited islands and many more skerries, located in the Inner Hebrides to the west of Mull. The entire archipelago is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the islands are known for their distinctive silhouette in the seascape – especially Bac Mor or the Dutchman’s Cap. In summer many of the islands are covered in rich grasslands and abundant wildflowers. They are also internationally significant as a nesting site for many seabird species including guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars, shags and skuas.

The marine environment surrounding the islands is part of the Sea of the Hebrides Marine Protected Area due to the presence of basking sharks and minke whales. Bottlenose and common dolphins, as well as grey seals, are also found there.

The islands were in the possession of King Hakon of Norway until 1249 and have a history of habitation from the Iron Age. They contain the protected archaeological remains (scheduled monuments) of two medieval chapels, a 15th–16th-century castle and an 18th-century barracks. In the 20th century, the islands frequently featured in the work of important Scottish artists like F C B Cadell and S J Peploe. The Treshnish Isles have been in the care of the Hebridean Trust since 2000 and were transferred to the National Trust for Scotland earlier this month.

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA has supported this acquisition, continuing a strong tradition of American support for conservation in this part of Scotland.

A group of puffins sit on the edge of a cliff, covered in sea pinks and grass. Behind them is a sparkling blue sea with a hat-shaped island in the distance.

This announcement comes as Chief Executive Philip Long OBE marks his third anniversary with the Trust. Philip Long took on the role at the height of the pandemic, which impacted severely on our ability to provide access for visitors, carry out our conservation work and raise funds. The launch of our 10-year strategy – Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone – in March 2022 has been described as a ‘fresh start’ for our conservation charity, which is responsible for the conservation and protection of some of Scotland’s most special places, including the islands of Staffa, Mingulay, Pabbay & Berneray, Canna and, of course, the dual World Heritage Site of St Kilda. Taking on the care of the Treshnish Isles further contributes to our strategic objective to enrich Scotland’s protected heritage.

Philip Long recently visited the islands. He said: ‘The National Trust for Scotland is privileged to take on the role of protecting the beautiful Treshnish Isles, which have such a long human history and are so rich in habitats and wildlife. I am delighted that our charity is playing this important role and adding these precious islands to the many already in our care.

‘Uninhabited islands are invaluable as havens for wildlife and as places of great natural beauty. Looking after them is a great responsibility, which we are proud to undertake, and which, as an independent charity, is only made possible thanks to the generosity of our members and supporters.’

“Building on the work of the Hebridean Trust, our experts will focus on ensuring that the Treshnish Isles are conserved and protected now and for the future, and that people can share in their nature, beauty and heritage.”
Philip Long OBE
Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland
A close-up photo of Phil Long, the Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland. He is standing in front of Kellie Castle, smiling. He wears a blue suit.

Chair of the Hebridean Trust Mike Stanfield said: ‘For over 20 years, the Hebridean Trust has been proud to act as guardian for these special islands. The focus for the Hebridean Trust has now shifted towards community projects on Tiree and so we are very pleased that the National Trust for Scotland has agreed to take the Treshnish Isles into their care for the nation.’

Caroline Clark, Director of Scotland for The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: ‘Thanks to National Lottery players, we supported the Hebridean Trust to take ownership of the Treshnish Isles to secure their future for nature and the community. We are delighted that the isles will now pass to the stewardship of the National Trust for Scotland, who bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience to continue to care for this beautiful environment. Earlier this year we launched our 10-year strategy Heritage 2033; at the heart of it is our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future. We know that aligns closely with the National Trust for Scotland’s own strategy Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone.

Reflecting on his time at the National Trust for Scotland so far, Philip Long added: ‘When I joined the National Trust for Scotland as Chief Executive, I could not have imagined the circumstances that we would find ourselves in, due to the impact of the global pandemic. At that time, our charity was fundraising for survival, but thanks to our very generous supporters and help from the Scottish Government, we emerged from the pandemic in a more positive place and ready to look ahead.

‘Last year, we launched our 10-year strategy, and already we’re delivering ambitious projects that will stabilise and improve the condition of our estate and enrich Scotland’s protected heritage. Just some of the examples include restoring the interiors of Holmwood, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s finest extant domestic design in Glasgow; designing and creating an innovative and sustainable parterre garden at Pitmedden Garden in Aberdeenshire, inspired by the long history of the garden’s design; and continuing to restore peatlands at Mar Lodge Estate, the UK’s largest National Nature Reserve, which helps to contribute nature-based solutions to addressing the climate crisis.

‘This year, we are making great progress on projects thanks to our supporters, with the re-opening of the House of the Binns in Linlithgow after extensive repair and refurbishment, and the opening of our new Gateway to Nature facilities at Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve. We are delighted now to add the Treshnish Isles to our charity’s long list of places we are proud to care for on behalf of all.

‘We continue to live in a very uncertain world with many challenges and we believe the Trust, with its responsibility for the care of so much of what is precious in Scotland, has an ever-greater role to play in people’s lives. And so, we are looking forward to setting out further ambitions as we plan for our centenary in 2031.’

The National Trust for Scotland has launched a new fundraising appeal – Love our Islands – in support of our conservation work on the islands and islets in our care across the country. Donations will help the Trust’s teams carry out bird and wildlife counts, maintain biosecurity standards to keep wildlife safe, undertake archaeological and building surveys, and do more work to engage with visitors.

Love our islands

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