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Ground-breaking research project marks a turning point in the wildlife management debate

Scottish Land & Estates has heralded a new report launched today as a ‘pivotal moment’ in resolving conflicts around predation.

The Understanding Predation report, by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, was launched today by the Minister for Environment, Dr Aileen McLeod. The publication is the result of a year’s work by an eminent and impartial multi-disciplinary research team.

Understanding how animals prey on each other, and the effect that has on wildlife management in Scotland’s uplands and lowlands, is extremely important when considering future land use. There has been strong collaboration between different stakeholders, and the project has developed a novel approach combining scientific knowledge and the experience of those on the ground.

Areas of strong agreement in the report are that six prey species (Curlew, Golden plover, Lapwing, Black grouse, Grey Partridge and Oystercatcher) are in decline and there is an urgent need to conserve them.  It was also agreed that three predator species – Buzzard, raven and fox – have shown wide population increases in the last 25 years.

The report also makes clear the positive role that adaptive management can play in the future.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Today’s report marks a pivotal moment in our understanding of issues of predation.

“Views about predators and the impact on their prey species differ and populations change over time and across Scotland, so it is vital to have an agreed baseline of information on which to base future decisions about management of species.  It is a huge subject but for the first time it has been quantified in one report and a road map for future work set out.  This work now needs to happen through firm direction from government and Scottish Natural Heritage.

“There is a clear message in the conclusions of the report that the next stage must focus on developing new practical collaborative approaches to adaptive management – and because of the prey species decline, there is no time to waste. 

“The challenge now is for all divergent interests to continue to come together and build on this landmark research. Too often we see wider conflict between different groups that erodes trust on the ground. This tension must become a thing of the past.

“We believe that it is vital that this work is taken forward as soon as possible with the momentum that the Minister has given to the report.  We have been closely involved with this project and will continue to work with partners on the Moorland Forum to put it into effect.  Issues around predation need to be resolved for the long term sustainability of all wildlife in Scotland.” 

To read more about the report, visit http://www.moorlandforum.org.uk/understanding-predation-report-launch

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