The Danish billionaire who has become Scotland’s largest landowner has revealed why he is ploughing his fortune into the country’s wilderness.
Anders Povlsen has unveiled a grandiose “200-year vision” to “rewild” his adopted homeland’s “most vulnerable, precious and mysteriously beautiful landscapes”.
In an open letter on his Wildland project website, the 46-year-old retail mogul has written of his dream of “restoring the Highlands to their former magnificent natural state and repairing the harm that man has inflicted on them”.
He rails against the “ugly and unnatural” commercial forests planted across the country – and advocates a widespread cull of deer.
Describing himself as a “custodian of the land”, his masterplan includes the reintroduction of Caledonian pine forests.
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He hints at one day bringing back wild animals and birds long absent from the UK, such as cranes, storks, beavers, bears, lynx and even wolves.
Denmark’s richest man also hopes endangered animals – such as the red squirrel, pine marten, Scottish wildcat, capercaillie and black grouse – will thrive again as new woodlands across his estates begin to connect.
In addition, he wants to use his land to educate children about the importance of conservation and “restore long-derelict properties in innovative and always stylish ways” to make the landscapes “accessible to ever greater numbers of visitors”.
Mr Povlsen said his love affair with Scotland began in the 1980s during a family holiday to the Highlands, where he spent a summer fly fishing with his younger brother, Niels.
The Bestseller clothing chief executive began building his property portfolio in 2006 with the £7.9 million acquisition of Glenfeshie, a 42,000-acre patch of the Cairngorms National Park.
Two years later he spent £15.5 million buying the 23,000-acre Braeroy estate near Fort William, nearby Tulloch estate and Lynaberack in the Cairngorms, all in Inverness-shire. Four estates were added between 2011 and 2015, and another three in 2016.
Last month it was announced he had bought the 1,100-acre Kinrara estate near Aviemore. His purchase of 12 estates covering more than 220,000 acres means he has overtaken the Duke of Buccleuch to become Scotland’s largest private landowner.
Alongside his wife Anne, 40, whom he met when she began working in sales for Bestseller, the father-of-four founded the Wildland project, which he describes as a “vehicle for taking forward the conservation, protection and sustainable development of some of Scotland’s most rugged, precious and beautiful landscapes”.
Now Wildland has published a manifesto on its website, promising to protect “Great Britain’s last true wilderness”.
Mr Povlsen states: “This love of the Scotland Highlands has manifested itself with ever-greater involvement over the years. We have also grown to appreciate the breadth of issues and opportunity that we, together with our growing team, are now responsible for.
“The language of Wildland’s longterm vision is conservation, restoration and rehabilitation. Whilst progress can sometimes seem glacial, each year that passes ensures that more and more of the big picture begins to reveal itself.”