2015-07-17   facebook twitter rss

Scottish Crofting Federation Slams ‘Re-Wilding’ Proposals

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has strongly opposed the ‘re-wilding’ of Scotland and the UK proposed recently by species-reintroduction lobbyists.

“The arguments put forward by the predator-reintroduction lobby groups on the fashionable term ‘re-wilding’ are blinkered and simply don’t take account of the evolution that has taken place in the environment over the past centuries”, said Fiona Mandeville, chair of the SCF. “You can’t just turn the clock back and parachute species in to a changed environment.”

Crofters

“Of course there are iconic species that need protection such as the red squirrel” Ms Mandeville continued, “but the re-introduction of large predators such as eagles and wolves, and destructive pests such as beavers, makes no sense as the environment has changed so much since they were last here. For example, when sea eagles used to populate Scotland there were plenty of in-shore fish for them to feed on. They were then re-introduced when there is a severe shortage of their natural food so they prey on livestock instead. If you are going to re-introduce species, you need to re-create their natural environment first.”

Ms Mandeville went on, “there is talk of re-introducing another predator, the lynx. They say it is a shy animal that will stay away from livestock. Are they sure? They said that about sea eagles too but have been proven wrong. When there was consternation from farmers in the south-east at the suggestion that lynx could be seen again in their vicinity, a spokesman for the group behind the re-introduction lobby said words to the effect of ‘its ok, if not in the south-east then there are plenty of ‘wild’ hills in the north-west where they can be released’.

“The majority of what SNH called ‘wild’ in their wild land maps are not wild at all; they only appear wild from an urban prospective. For people who live there they are as well managed as a city park. They are cared for by crofters who depend on their extensive livestock. Hill sheep are fast becoming the most endangered species in the Highlands and Islands.

“I know traditional small-scale farmers in Sweden who find their livelihoods threatened by re-introduced wolves preying on stock. Some have given up farming as a result. There are enough threats already to crofting agriculture without this”.

Ms Mandeville concluded “it is an emotive argument put forward by the species-reintroduction lobbyists, but needs to be seen in the true context. Crofters have been looking after the ‘High Nature Value’ environment for centuries and cannot be regarded as anything other than environmental care-takers themselves. To force them out of these areas by imposing predators on them will have dire consequences for the wider landscape, biodiversity, maintaining rural population and for food security”.

Scottish Crofting

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