BBC News – Lottery funds for Coigach-Assynt conservation work

An effort to conserve the landscape of Coigach and Assynt in north west Scotland has received a £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

pic by alex nail

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) is leading work to restore blanket bog and heath moor, repair paths and reconnect fragmented native woodland.

Funds will also go towards excavating and preserving Clachtoll broch, an Iron Age settlement. The project is part of a 40-year vision for Coigach and Assynt.

SWT is involved in Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape (Call), a partnership set up to regenerate the area.

Viv Halcrow, Call\’s project manager, said: \”This Heritage Lottery Funding could have a great impact across the whole Coigach-Assynt living landscape.

\”It would not only benefit the natural, cultural and built environment, but could help to increase integration between communities, landowners, and organisations.\”

\’Enormous pressures\’

The Heritage Lottery Fund describes the area as one of the remotest areas of Europe.

Colin McLean, head of the fund in Scotland, said it has \”astounding scenery\”.

He added: \”However, the enormous pressures upon these landscapes mean that we have to tackle their restoration and conservation on a bigger scale than ever before.\”

Simon Milne, chief executive of SWT, said the trust was delighted with grant award.

He said: \”This money brings environmental benefits through the myriad of restoration projects planned such as native Atlantic oakwood restoration as well as social and economic benefits for the entire community in the Coigach-Assynt area by providing jobs and promoting tourism.\”

more here…..

via BBC News – Lottery funds for Coigach-Assynt conservation work.


Mapping Scotlands wildness – SNH consultation

Mapping Scotlands wildness and wild land Consultation on Core Areas of Wild Land 2013 MapThe Scottish Government recently consulted on the Main Issues Report for the National Planning Framework 3 and draft Scottish Planning Policy.  These proposed a policy approach that refers to Scottish Natural Heritages Core Areas of Wild Land 2013 map.  In light of comments received, we have been asked to provide further advice to Ministers on this map.Scottish Natural Heritage is seeking views on three questions set out in this consultation paper  .  Please reply using the pro forma  on this page Mapping Scotlands wildness – Scottish Natural Heritage.

Wildlife management: Estate of nature | The Economist

Article from Economist on the widening divide between differing highland  estate management practices.

Sep 14th 2013 |From the print edition

PAUL LISTER is an unusual Scottish laird. His wardrobe contains no tartan and he doesn’t drink whisky. Nor does he hunt, shoot or fish. Instead he spends his time thinking about conservation. Mr Lister is not alone. A new breed of laird is buying up chunks of Scotland. Their views on deer are causing trouble with the traditional sporting estates.

Their estates are vast, even by Scottish standards. Mr Lister, heir to a furniture entrepreneur, is in charge of the 9,300-hectare Alladale estate. Anders Hoch Povlsen, a Danish fashion tycoon, has become the second-largest private landowner in Britain, with 60,000 hectares in the eastern highlands.


Both men yearn for Scotland’s environmental past. In the 17th century, the highlands held forests of pine, beech and rowan. But then the trees were felled to make way for sheep and grouse moors. Grazing deer have kept the ground bare. Nowadays saplings are gobbled up before they can grow into trees.

Scotland’s deer population is a perennial problem with two prongs. First, there are lots of them: over 300,000 in the highlands alone. Second, property rights are vague at best: no one owns the deer and they can roam where they wish. So numbers are controlled by Deer Management Groups, with the agreement of land owners, farmers and commercial forests.

That is a tricky task. Deer are a nuisance for Messrs Lister and Povlsen. But for others they are an important source of income. Scottish estates are expensive to run. Revenues can be boosted by selling expensive stalking weekends to wealthy tourists from south of the border. Last year the National Trust for Scotland, a charity, abandoned a cull of thousands of deer at their Mar Lodge estate, after protests from neighbours—including the queen’s estate—and businesses. If the deer dwindle, so may the sporting tourists.

That leaves a problem: sporting estates want to see around 12 deer per square kilometre, conservationists around four. But their free movement means individual estates cannot control numbers accurately. When deer are removed from an area, new ones flow like water into the space left behind. The result is too many for conservation, too few for sport.

Fencing offers a solution but it can confuse the deer and separate them from lower-lying ground, making life harder for them in winter. A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association says this is an excuse used by those that favour culling. Others say fencing can be a good short-term compromise: once forests are established deer can be let back in.

Mr Lister say all these options are imperfect. In the early 18th century natural predators roamed the highlands. Wolves and lynx kept deer on the move, preventing them from grazing for too long in one place. He plans a fenced reserve where wolves could hunt freely. This will make his land teem with life again, he reckons: the trees will provide food for rodents and small birds, wolves will leave carrion for eagles and ravens. Getting his neighbours to agree will be hard, but Mr Lister predicts a wilder Scotland could attract as many new tourists as it loses to the cull.

via Wildlife management: Estate of nature | The Economist.

corporate assault on wild land map

Scottish Govt must not bow down to big business pressure over wild land map

As the Scottish Government announced a public consultation over the map of Scotland’s core wild land wild land published earlier this year by Scottish Natural Heritage, the John Muir Trust warned the Scottish Government to resist external pressure to downsize the map.

Stuart Brooks, John Muir Trust chief executive said: “Responses to the Scottish Planning Policy consultation document reveal a concerted assault on the core wild land map by energy corporations and property developers.

“They clearly see Scotland’s wild land as a potential goldmine worth billions to their global shareholders.

“We expect that the Scottish Government will now come under ferocious pressure to either scrap the map, or to remove large tracts of wild land from the protection zone.

“These businesses have no expertise or interest in Scotland’s landscape or ecology. Their only expertise and interest is in making profit.

“Scottish Natural Heritage has spent many years identifying Scotland’s wild land, and establishing and refining clear geographical boundaries. This work must not be allowed to be undermined by the power of money.

“The message we will be sending to the Scottish Government is that our wild land is not a commodity to be bartered over, but a precious asset to be cherished, protected and restored for the benefit of our people, our wildlife and the wider world.”

The John Muir Trust has public support on its side. A YouGov poll of over 1,000 people across Scotland this summer found that over 75 per cent support strengthened protection for wild land with only six per cent opposed, while the recently published Scottish Planning Policy consultation responses showed a two to one majority in favour of strengthened protection for wild land..

Of the fewer than 50 submissions opposing wild land, almost all were from businesses with a financial interest in exploiting Scotland’s wild land –  two thirds of them from outside Scotland, and one third multinational corporations from outside the UK.

Of the more than 110 or so submissions supporting the wild land map, the vast majority came from Scotland, and included environmentalists, charities, businesses, local authorities, community groups, professional bodies and individuals.

via News from the John Muir Trust.