A coalition of environment charities including the Scottish Wildlife Trust is urging the Scottish Government to move towards a modernised system that will help deliver national targets on biodiversity, climate change and woodland expansion.
This call comes ahead of a Scottish Parliament debate on 2 May 2017, which follows over four years of intense scrutiny of the current arrangements by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the cross-party Holyrood committees responsible for the environment.
The Trust’s Head of Policy Maggie Keegan said: “Overgrazing and trampling by deer has had a profound effect on the health and connectivity of Scotland’s ecosystems, especially in the uplands. We urge the Scottish Government to take on the committee’s recommendations on deer management. There is no time to lose to halt the loss of biodiversity and meet our 2020 targets.”
A report published last month by the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee criticised the failure of the current system to protect important habitats. It points out that in many places deer densities are too high to deliver the public interest, and that deer impacts continue be a significant factor in preventing the restoration of native woodland.
This report and its recommendations have been welcomed in a statement published by Scottish Environment Link and supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, John Muir Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Trees for Life and the Woodland Trust Scotland.
Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland and Chair of Scottish Environment LINK’s Deer Task Force added: “We are urging full implementation of the committee’s recommendations to underpin the full range of Scottish Government objectives, including meeting our 2020 biodiversity targets, native woodland expansion and protection of peatlands to mitigate climate change. We now expect SNH to use their full range of powers to encourage sustainable deer management in line with public expectations.”