Keep­ers hit out at trust’s plans for up­land changes

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

THE Scot­tish Wildlife Trust’s call for a new ap­proach to man­ag­ing deer and grouse moors would be ‘counter-pro­duc­tive’, game­keep­ers ar­gue.

The Scot­tish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) re­port, Liv­ing Land­scapes of the Scot­tish Up­lands, pub­lished on July 6, rec­om­mends 10 key changes to re­verse the de­cline of Scot­land’s up­land habi­tats – 44 per cent of the coun­try’s land area – no­tably peat­land, heather moor­land and na­tive wood­land.

These in­clude fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to en­cour­age good en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, the rein­tro­duc­tion of lost species such as Eurasian beaver and Eurasian lynx, and reg­u­la­tions for more sus­tain­able man­age­ment of deer and up­land grouse moors.

Su­san Davies, SWT’s di­rec­tor of con­ser­va­tion, said: ‘ Our up­lands are cur­rently un­der threat on a land­scape scale from a wide range of pres­sures in­clud­ing in­ten­sive land man­age­ment, in­va­sive species and poorly-tar­geted pub­lic sub­si­dies. This is bad for wildlife, bad for com­mu­ni­ties and bad for Scot­land.

‘Chang­ing our re­la­tion­ship with the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment in the up­lands could re­verse the de­cline in wildlife and habi­tats, and en­sure the up­lands can de­liver a wider range of ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing nat­u­ral flood risk man­age­ment, en­hanced op­por­tu­ni­ties for tourism and recre­ation, and high- qual­ity sus­tain­ably pro­duced food.’

The con­ser­va­tion char­ity plans to ad­dress these is­sues on its three up­land re­serves at Largiebaan in Kin­tyre, the Ra­hoy Hills near Locha­line, and Ben Mor Coigach near Ul­lapool.

How­ever, the Scot­tish Game­keep­ers As­so­ci­a­tion called for SWT to of­fer trans­parency on how it man­ages deer on its own re­serves.

A spokesper­son said: ‘An FOI in April showed SNH has not held deer cull in­for­ma­tion for their prop­erty at Largiebaan for the last four years. Loch Ardinning, an­other SWT re­serve, has shown no cull re­turns from 2012-2013 on­wards. It would be fair for the pub­lic to ask how SWT are man­ag­ing deer on their own hold­ings, or if they are?

‘ The num­ber and di­ver­sity of de­clin­ing species pro­duc­ing young suc­cess­fully on grouse moors man­aged by game­keep­ers, each year, stands test with any land hold­ing or na­ture re- serve in Scot­land whilst, at the same time, sus­tains thou­sands of full-time wages, which keep adults and their chil­dren in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

‘ These com­mu­ni­ties are founded and rooted by vi­able em­ploy­ment, not re­mote vi­sions.

‘ With many moors al­ready work­ing on projects to re­store peat, plant trees and im­prove habi­tat over vast ar­eas of up­land Scot­land, fur­ther reg­u­la­tion will only be counter-pro­duc­tive and hin­der rather than help these ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships and com­bined ini­tia­tives SWT ap­pear to be pro­mot­ing.

‘It would be bet­ter for vol­un­teer char­i­ties, and gov­ern­ment, to work to­gether with the eco­nomic em­ployer in­dus­tries in the up­lands to achieve shared goals.’

Scot­tish Wildlife Trust’s head of wildlife re­serves Alan An­der­son re­sponded, say­ing: ‘ The trust has made some ex­cel­lent progress with bring­ing high deer num­bers down on its wildlife re­serves in re­cent years.

‘At Largiebaan in Kin­tyre, deer are ac­tu­ally con­trolled by a lo­cal stalker and I’m puz­zled why the FOI showed no cull re­turns so we will be look­ing into this.

‘ We are aware that on some of our 120 re­serves we could be do­ing more and deer man­age­ment will be one of the many is­sues we will be look­ing at as part of our strate­gic re­view of re­serves tak­ing place this year.’

The trust’s CEO, Jonathan Hughes, added: ‘ The world is chang­ing, or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ties are work­ing to­gether more than ever and we hope that SGA will em­brace this trend.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.