Connecting Urban Youth and Rural Heritage

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Our youth face some of the greatest challenges of any generation through history, due to increasing urbanisation, economic crises and over population. This includes their loss of a vital connection to the natural world and rural heritage skills, thus impacting on wellbeing and sustainable futures.
Launched in 2013, Imbewu Scotland is an intergenerational project which shares the knowledge and wisdom of stalkers, ghillies and other experienced countrymen and women who live and work on rural estates, with young people from urban backgrounds who have demonstrated an interest in nature, learning rural skills and enjoyment of the outdoors.
Week long residential trails, including wilderness journeys and experiences in the most remote and beautiful parts of rural Scotland, enable those selected to grow an awareness and love of nature and the outdoors, which is part of their natural heritage.
The project, supported by Scottish Land & Estates, aligns closely with a number of the Scottish Government National Outcomes. It assists in delivering the aims of the Land Use Strategy and in the work being undertaken to link children to the land through the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland.

Project Outcomes

Trails for small groups of young people, aged 14 to 15 years, are taking place on estates across Scotland, including Blair Atholl in Highland Perthshire and the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate.

  • Imbewu provides a nature based experience that focuses on personal development while offering leadership and rural skills based learning opportunities for young people within wild, rural areas.
  • The project raises awareness of the environmental, economic and social benefits delivered by estates and their owners, who are custodians of much of Scotland’s natural heritage.
  • Estate staff are selected for their interest in the heritage of the landscape; their rural knowledge and skills; their love of nature; their communication abilities and their interest in nurturing potential in young people.
  • Imbewu increases understanding of ecological issues and sustainable land management as well as enabling young people to see the employment and career opportunities which exist in the rural sector.

The Imbewu project grows out of a similar project in South Africa – working with retired game rangers to share their knowledge of wild places with young people from townships and urban areas. ‘Imbewu’ means ‘seed’ in Zulu and symbolises the potential for growth from small beginnings.
Young people selected from schools across Aberdeenshire and Perthshire, took part in the first Imbewu trails in 2013.   Supported by estate staff and Wilderness Scotland guides, they explored and helped to conserve some of Scotland’s wild places. All our Imbewu graduates received a John Muir Discovery Award and Leave No Trace accreditation in recognition of their achievements.  For 2014 we have widened our relationship with the estates and are pleased to count Glen Tanar, MacRobert Trust and Douglas and Angus Estate amongst our new partners, alongside old friends Atholl Estates.
The project offers fantastic opportunities for organisations to assist in maximising the numbers of young people that we can draw from Scotland’s urban areas to be part of this exciting initiative and we are actively looking for willing sponsors.
The project is connecting with talented and foresighted teachers, landowners and youth groups and we urge anyone wishing to take part to make contact with the Imbewu team today.

Nature offers an escape from the hectic world we live in today. (Dillan, Imbewu 2013)
I want to…incorporate the ‘Leave No Trace Principles’ into everyday life and, in work, attempt to find ways to do things that are less damaging to the environment.” (Kirsty, Imbewu 2013)



Imbewu Scotland is part-funded by Scottish Natural Heritage. snhlogo
Celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty in 2014!
From stunning landscapes and iconic wildlife, to creative events and nature festivals, Scotland’s great outdoors is waiting for you.

Imbewu Scotland is being part-financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER 2007-2013 Programme.