Scottish Land & Estates has responded to the launch of Rewilding Britain, an organisation seeking to establish at least three core areas of rewilded land by 2030, which means, in each case, 100,000 hectares or more.
Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The emergence of the rewilding movement in recent years is an interesting development and Scottish Land & Estates has within its membership land owners who have habitat restoration as one of their primary objectives. It is, though, also a challenging development in that it can raise numerous conflicts with the land management objectives of others.
“Scottish Land & Estates would defend the rights of any owner to pursue their own land management objectives, whether that be farming, forestry, sporting activity or rewilding. The key issue will be how the conflicts between rewilding and established land management can be resolved and, as ever, what is needed is dialogue between the different interests to ensure that any negative impacts can be mitigated.
“Many rewilding proposals contain requests for the reintroduction of species that have not been present in Scotland for centuries and while we are not opposed to species reintroduction in principle, we do believe that it is important that before any species is reintroduced the proposal should be subject to rigorous assessment and inclusive decision making process.
“Despite being much-talked about, no official proposal has been presented for the reintroduction of species such as lynx and wolves. If a proposal were to come forward there are likely to be a considerable number of issues for farmers and land managers and we would question if such a reintroduction would be the best use of resources. Perhaps we would be better focusing our limited resources and public funding on doing our best for the species we have which are endangered, such as our native Scottish wildcat or the capercaillie.
“As the rewilding movement develops we would argue that it is vitally important to acknowledge that the Scottish landscape is a working landscape; the landscape we see today is the result of a long history of rural people working to make a living and deliver sustainable land use. These people deliver economic, social and environmental benefits today and any rewilding movement should recognise that a great many people already depend on the land for their livelihood and are likely to be worried by radical proposals for change in land use or the introduction of new species.”