Policy & Lobbying
Species Reintroduction
Scottish Land & Estates believes that a rigorous trial reintroduction process must be followed before species are permanently reintroduced to Scotland. Trials should be carefully monitored and assessed against strict criteria. It is essential that social and economic costs and benefits are taken into account as well as environmental costs and benefits. Only after conclusive evidence demonstrates that a significant benefit will accrue from the reintroduction of a species should it be permitted to be permanently resident.

This must include a robust exit strategy and an agreed up front ability to manage negative impacts of such reintroductions should they occur in the future post reintroduction. If the evidence is inconclusive or indeed demonstrates that the reintroduction will be socially, economically or environmentally detrimental then the reintroduction should be abandoned.

Scottish Land & Estates sits on the National Species Reintroduction Forum run by Scottish Natural Heritage to represent the view of land owners, managers and estates in Scotland. This group was set up following concerted pressure from the land management sector for a better say in such reintroductions.

There are two reintroduction projects ongoing at the moment in which Scottish Land & Estates is involved:

Sea Eagle:
  • Scottish Land & Estates represents the interests of members on the Sea Eagle Management Group. Between 1975 and 1985 82 young sea eagles were reintroduced to Scotland on Rum. A second reintroduction programme took place between 1993 and 1998 concentrating on the north and west Scottish Highlands. Finally, in 2007 a five-year release programme began in Fife to try and re-establish the species in the east of Scotland.  The species is listed under the SNH Species Action framework and therefore it is a high priority for conservation and management measures.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage operates a Sea Eagle Management Scheme which is open to applicants managing land within the vicinity of breeding sea eagles.  The scheme is operated on behalf of the Sea Eagle Partnership, of which Scottish Land & Estates is a part.  The scheme is open to applicants until 31st August 2011, with a further application period from 1st to 31st October 2011.  Further application periods will be announced each year until Autumn 2013 when the scheme closes.  The scheme booklet and application form are available on Scottish Natural Heritage's website.      
Beaver:
  • Scottish Land & Estates sits on the stakeholder group for the Scottish Beaver Reintroduction Trial. This five year trial took place in Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll following approval by the then Minister of Environment Michael Russell MSP.  The project partners are Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage is acting as an independent monitor. The trial ended spring 2014 and reports on the outcomes have been submitted to Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • In the meantime, there have been unauthorised releases in Tayside.  Rather than remove this population, the Scottish Government made the decision to monitor this population alongside the official trial.  The "Tayside Beaver Study Group" have produced a report, also to be submitted to Scottish Natural Heritage, on the Tayside population.  The Tayside population in now far more extensive than the official trial population in Argyll.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage will produce a final composite report for Scottish Ministers in 2015 after which a decision on the future of beavers in Scotland will be made.
  • Scottish Land & Estates position is that we are concerned about the proposed reintroduction of beaver to Scotland.  There are issues for low lying agricultural ground in particular and concerns for forestry and fishing interests.  Scottish Land & Estates wish to be clear about how these issues will be mitigated, managed or compensated.

Lynx UK Trust - Lynx Reintroduction - Scottish Land & Estates express concerns over Lynx reintroduction proposal

 
The consequences of reintroducing lynx to Scotland have yet to be fully understood, landowners have warned. The concerns were raised by Scottish Land & Estates as part of a national consultation conducted by the Lynx UK Trust, an organisation that wants to reintroduce Eurasian lynx to areas in Aberdeenshire, Argyll and the Borders. The body is seeking views prior to submitting an application for a licence to conduct a trial reintroduction. The full consultation response can be found at the bottom of this page.
 
Scottish Land & Estates has said that whilst the reintroduction of former native species to Scotland is a worthwhile topic for debate, there are serious concerns about the robustness of the public attitudes and economic studies that support this proposal on lynx.
 
The landowners’ organisation added that the willingness for the public purse to support a long-term livestock compensation scheme, and the ecological benefits of reintroducing lynx, had yet to be fully examined.
Anne Gray, Policy Officer (Environment) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The suggestion to reintroduce lynx has already received significant media attention but we do not believe the evidence provided currently supports such a proposal.
 
“We have a varied membership, a number of whom are focused on conservation as their primary activity, but the importance of traditional businesses such as agriculture and forestry to our membership and rural areas need to be taken account of.
 
“It is not clear how extensively lynx would impact on such sectors and we feel that the Lynx UK Trust’s proposal down plays some of the possible negatives that may arise.   
 
“For example, much of the countryside that surrounds the Kielder Forest is used for sheep grazing and the sheep kill rate of 0.19 per lynx per annum provided by the report seems unusually low compared to a European average of 0.40 per lynx, per year. Indeed, we would have expected the rates to be higher than the European average, given that the report itself says kill rates tend to be higher on the forest edge. The report also fails to address other issues including the cost of vet bills and other measures that would need to be taken to secure the safety of livestock.”
 
“The timing of this proposal is not ideal either.  The Scottish Government has still to make a decision on the future of beaver reintroduction in Scotland.  If beaver are to stay, discussions about their management will begin in earnest and may take some time to conclude.  Appetite for a new reintroduction will be poor until we have solid foundations in place for current projects.  
 
“We also have to think about existing native species that are struggling to hang on, such as the Scottish Wildcat and the Red Squirrel.  Scottish Land & Estates support projects that are critical to the long-term survival of both these species and we wouldn’t want to see limited resources being diverted away for this work.    
 
“Overall, we feel many of the potential benefits of lynx reintroduction are overstated. We do not believe the public support as quantified by Lynx UK Trust is accurate, and we are not convinced of the benefits to lynx conservation itself of some of the proposed reintroduction sites.”
 
 

Derogations for Protected Species Response

Scottish Land & Estates welcomed the findings of a recent piece of research carried out by the University of Aberdeen on behalf of SNH at the request of the National Species Reintroduction Forum. The researchers looked at the a number or species reintroductions, including Eurasian Beaver,  carried out in several countries in Europe, both EU and non EU members. They examined the reaction of communities, Landmanagers and regulatory authorities to the introductions and methods used to mitigate against the harmful effects they bring with them. In Bavaria for example, over 600 derogations have had to be approved to deal with problems since the introduction of Eurasian Beaver  into that state. Latvia was so concerned about the Eurasian Beaver problem in that country it negotiated itself out of its EU Habitats Directive responsibilities regarding this animal before agreeing to sign its Accession Document.”

The findings were subject to a short consultation and you can view Scottish Land & Estate's response below.

 

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