Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham visited Mull today, at the invitation of NFU Scotland, to meet farmers who are trying to strike a balance between managing the habitat of white-tailed sea eagles and successful farming businesses.
The minister visited Knock Farm, home to NFUS members Lachlan and Donald Maclean, which hosts golden and white-tailed sea eagles and includes sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA).
The visit then extended to viewing points on Loch Ba to study the proximity of nest sites and the density of the white-tailed sea eagle population in relation to the extensive nature of farming in the area.
The group was joined by Mull’s RSPB officer Dave Sexton, who is responsible for monitoring nest sites and liasing with farmers, crofters and the wider public.
NFU Scotland member Lachlan Maclean, who hosted the visit, said:
“We illustrated clearly to the Minister how the white-tailed sea eagle’s presence has had a significant effect on a relatively small area of Scotland, with knock-on impact on fragile hill farms and crofts on the island.
“Farmers recognise that the reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle has been a real success in terms of conservation but that farmers have had to bear some of the cost of this, with no obvious benefits in return.
“Our aim is to work with the Scottish Government and conservation groups to find practical ways of minimising these effects while fulfilling the potential for conservation and farming to go hand in hand.
“In particular we are studying means of improving lambing percentages and the productivity of hill lambs, while finding ways of preventing live lamb predation without jeopardising the white-tailed sea eagle.
“We believe a happy medium can be found where conservation’s gain is not farming’s loss and vice versa, and were grateful that the Minister came to Mull so that we could discuss this with her in person.”
Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:
“The reintroduction of sea eagles to Mull has been a conservation success story, enhancing biodiversity and attracting additional tourists and boosting the island economy.
“The farmers I have visited today are demonstrating how we can balance conservation with farming and economic development.
“There are many challenges in striking the right balance between our immediate economic needs and longer-term conservation needs but I wholeheartedly believe that this can be found.”
Careful Feeding Cuts Livestock Emissions by 15%
Farmers Offered Stake in Renewable Energy Projects
FAO Urges Early Action on Climate Change Responses