You get a sense of what to expect from this fascinating and enlightening book from its introduction. "The primary aim of this book is to provide an account of a pioneering initiative in ecological restoration, written not by those who view its progress from outside but by all the people - volunteer activists, amateur experts, professional tree planters and environmental managers - who are playing their diverse roles in making restoration happen in the Moffat and Tweedsmuir Hills, an area that we call 'The Wild Heart of Scotland'."
It goes on to say: "More than 40 people have written pieces for this book, in very different styles, and some readers may find it lacking in coherence. We hope, however, that this defect is outweighed by the opportunity to see the work in the round, not laid out like a management plan, which can seem fairly remote from the hands-on work in the hills in every sort of weather."
The slightly defensive tone that comes over from this really isn't needed, not for us, anyway. In our view the many different contributions that make up the book coalesce like a kind of collage, a collection of images of the various different aspects of the project that together form something that far surpasses the sum of its individual parts. By capturing all the many and various elements of a dream that has taken decades to come to fruition, the editors have produced a book that sits comfortably between a celebration of what has been achieved and a "how to" manual for anyone else thinking of doing anything like it anywhere else. The presentation, with plenty of relevant and interesting colour photographs, plus a few maps and charts, helps ease the reader into the book and broaden the likely audience for the work.
The book is in three parts. Part I looks at the conception and birth of the Carrifran Wildwood. Part II considers the remarkable changes at Carrifran that have been documented since the removal of sheep, cattle and feral goats and the planting of the first trees, twenty years ago. Part III looks at the way the achievements to date are now being built upon by widening the area of activity of the Borders Forest Trust.