BBC Wildlife Magazine
Like Robert Macfarlane (Beneath the surface, May 2019), I spent much of my youth in the far north of Scotland. I went on to spend the next 40 years living and working around the Highlands and islands. From that perspective, I have to say that the words attributed to Robert regarding the uplands and land reform seem rather out of touch with the reality.
The catalyst for the present debate was in 1992 when the Assynt Crofters’ Trust acquired their land. As a result of the process that followed the formation of the Community Land Unit, we now see a much greater diversity of landholding interests in the Highlands and islands, with community land trusts and woodland groups joining environmental charities and others.
Yes, it would be nice to have far fewer deer; but many of the new landowners and the community groups are effectively becoming sporting estates in order to achieve an income while controlling deer numbers. It is in the traditional sporting areas that there is, generally, the most effective control.
And, in fact, there are now some very large private estates with a strong conservation purpose; many of them espouse the ‘rewilding’ cause which Robert is keen on. Robin Noble, via email