Americans support acquisition of Scottish islands by National Trust for Scotland

American friends of Scotland’s largest conservation charity have enabled the acquisition of the Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of eight uninhabited islands located in the Inner Hebrides, securing the future of this distinctive seascape. The Treshnish Isles are internationally significant as a nesting site for many seabird species, including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes. Twenty percent of the entire British population of storm petrels nest on the islands. The waters surrounding the isles are home to Atlantic seals, basking sharks, and minke whales.

Now uninhabited, the Treshnish Isles have a long human history that dates from the Iron Age. They were in the possession of King Haakon of Norway until 1249. The islands feature the ruins of two medieval castles and have strong historical links with the Scottish clans MacDougal, MacDonald, and Maclean.  The National Trust for Scotland assumed care of the Treshnish Isles in July. The Trust is responsible for the protection of some of Scotland’s most special places, including the Hebridean islands of Staffa, Iona, and Canna, as well as Fair Isle and the dual world heritage site of St Kilda. In America, The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (NTSUSA) raises visibility and financial support for the Trust’s conservation priorities. There has been a strong tradition of American support for conservation in the Hebrides. The islands of Staffa, Pabbay, Berneray, and Mingulay were all gifted to the Trust through bequests from the US, and NTSUSA recently has made significant contributions to preservation initiatives on Canna and Iona.

Protect Scotland’s heritage and natural beauty

Kirstin Bridier, executive director of NTSUSA, noted, “We are delighted to fund the acquisition of the Treshnish Isles. With more than 20 million Americans claiming Scottish ancestry, NTSUSA is committed to garnering international support to protect Scotland’s heritage and natural beauty now and for future generations.” The acquisition of the Treshnish Isles comes as the National Trust for Scotland is investing significantly in the region. With more than 50,000 visitors per year expected on the Treshnish Isles, the Trust will work with local boat operators to ensure that rats and mice cannot reach the island and feed upon vulnerable seabird chicks.

The Trust also will have a ranger on-site to help monitor and educate visitors about the islands’ wildlife. An archaeological survey will ensure all data from historical ruins is captured and will inform development of a preservation plan. The acquisition caps a year in which NTSUSA granted more than $530,000 in funding for projects at nearly twenty National Trust for Scotland properties. This included $208,000 to support the digitization of 18th century manuscripts in poet Robert Burns’s hand held in the collection of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire. The result will be a website accessible to Burns scholars and fans across the globe.

The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (NTSUSA) is an independent non-profit organization that exists to support the work of the National Trust for Scotland’s most urgent conservation priorities. Donations to NTSUSA, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. To learn more about NTSUSA or to become a member, please visit:

Main photo: View from Lunga toward Bac Mòr (or Dutchman’s Cap).

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