Percy Unna

1878 - 1950

Environmentalist and philanthropist. Born in London, of Danish extraction, Unna was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge. He became a civil engineer. During the First World War he served as a Lieutenant-Commander in the navy and was based for a time in Leith. He helped construct the Mulberry Harbours used after D-Day in 1944. He was a keen mountaineer and became President of the Scottish Mountaineering Club in the mid-1930s. This led to his enthusiasm to protect the natural landscapes of Scotland and he set about raising funds to purchase much the Glen Coe Estate of Lord Strathcona in 1935, followed by the Dalness Forest - including the mountains of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag - two years later. He contributed generously to the purchases from his own funds and presented the properties to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which was founded in 1935. Over the remainder of his life he made considerable anonymous donations to the Trust to ensure the upkeep of these estates and enable the purchase of further wilderness areas, including Kintail in Wester Ross in 1944. This property included the Five Sisters, Ben Attow (Beinn Fhada), Glen Shiel and Loch Duich. Shortly before his death he setup the Mountain Country Trust which enabled the NTS to buy Ben Lawers, Goatfell and the Torridon Estate.

He formulated Unna's Rules, which were intended to ensure the land was held on behalf of the public and preserved for their use in a primitive condition without development or active management. These have given rise to subsequent controversy with some accusing the NTS of having compromised them.

Unna died of heart failure on Beinn Eunaich and lies buried in Pennyfuir Cemetery near Oban.

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