THREE heritage sites which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are to share £1.9 million of lottery funding.

Each of the projects will be able to use the National Lottery Heritage cash to help continue development, bringing in visitors and jobs to their local communities.

A project to open the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan will receive the highest grant of £702,300.

The Trees for Life group hopes the 10,000-acre estate in Glenmoriston near Loch Ness will protect and expand Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest, which attracts more than 50,000 visitors each year.

Steve Micklewright, chief executive of Trees for Life, said: “We are delighted to be weeks away from breaking ground at Dundreggan and see our vision for the rewilding centre come to life over the next year.

“It comes at a time when everyone is looking toward the future, to when we can get back to gathering together with our communities, socialising and exploring.

“The centre will be a gathering place that offers engagement and learning focused on the unique natural and cultural heritage of the area; it will provide benefit to the surrounding communities, bolster the return of tourism, and support wider conservation work across the Highlands.”

Elsewhere, Braemar Castle in ­Aberdeenshire will receive a grant of £555,900 to renew the harling which is failing to keep water away from ­collections stored there.

Access to the castle will also be ­improved with a new visitor ­reception and all-weather pathways.

The final £650,000 goes to ­Strathnaver Museum, situated on the North Coast 500 route, which tells the story of the Highland Clearances and history of Clan Mackay.

Funding can allow the former church, dating from the 1750s and deemed to no longer be fit for purpose, to be transformed into a modern museum with ­essential repairs and a new layout with an annex.

Caroline Clark, Scotland director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The road to recovery is going to be extremely challenging and we are doing all we can to help ­people, communities and places through this crisis.

“Thanks to funds raised by ­National Lottery players, we can help Scotland’s heritage sector build resilience into their future plans, which is vital given its crucial role in supporting Scotland’s social and green economic recovery.

“We are pleased to be able to ­support the rural economies that we have funded today. We applaud the hard work and commitment of the communities involved, particularly given the challenges they have had to face over the last year, and hope it will allow them to look ahead with renewed optimism.”