Monday 21st February, 2011
Scotland’s wild land is disappearing fast
New figures released by Scottish Natural Heritage have added urgency to the John Muir Trust’s call for greater protection of Scotland’s wild land.
The ‘area without visual influence of built development’, one of Scottish Natural Heritage’s key indicators of the state of the environment, fell from 31 per cent in January 2008 to 28 per cent in December 2009. This drop represents an area around 14 times the size of Glasgow.
Previous SNH figures showed the area without visual influence of built development had declined from 41 per cent to 31 per cent between 2002 and 2008.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust said: “This is a deeply worrying figure, which will clearly continue to decline if more large developments are approved within wild land areas.
“While many factors are involved, the statistics show that wind developments are responsible for most of this dramatic loss, intruding on areas where little human influence has been felt in the past.”
“Scotland’s wild land is one of the country’s most valuable assets, supporting tourism, biodiversity and the wider environment. We can’t afford to lose more of it through the industrialisation of our mountains and moorlands.”
The Trust’s petition for greater protection of wild land will come before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Tuesday 22 February. The petition, signed by more than 3,500 people, was submitted to the Parliament in January.
SNH’s response to this petition identified the clear threat facing wild land, saying, “There is a history, in the field of environmental protection, of acting decisively only when the resources in question are under extreme threat. Given the distinctiveness and rarity of Scotland’s wild land resource – in a western European, not purely a UK, context – we must surely avoid this trap and act before it is too late.”
Responses from consultees including the RSPB, VisitScotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government show a broad consensus that wild land should be protected.