The Trust has responded to the publication of the review by the Grouse Moor Management Group, commissioned by the Scottish Government and chaired by Professor Alan Werritty.
Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “This report highlights the serious impacts that unsustainable moorland management can have on Scotland’s uplands. We welcome the recommendation that the Scottish Government should signal its intent to introduce licensing unless bird of prey populations on or near shooting estates recover.
“We also welcome the acceptance from those representing the sporting sector that current practices fall well short of the standards required in modern Scotland, and when every part of our society has to work together to address the serious crisis facing nature.
“But the report lacks detail on what the measures of improvement will actually be, and what resources will be available to monitor compliance. We call on the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage to set out what evidence they will use and what standards need to be met, to show whether regulation is required.
The current climate and ecological emergencies require swift and decisive action, and should mean the Scottish Government significantly shortens the five-year grace period that has been suggested.
“Since this report was commissioned in 2017 there has been a groundswell in awareness that nature is in crisis. The current climate and ecological emergencies require swift and decisive action, and should mean the Scottish Government significantly shortens the five-year grace period that has been suggested.
“It’s important to remember that this report has come about due to the ongoing and unacceptable persecution of birds of prey in Scotland. We strongly support the recent announcements on tougher sentences for wildlife crimes, as well as increased resources for Police Scotland to be able to better respond to incidents.
“However, the issues surrounding moorland management go far beyond the illegal killing of wildlife. They include the burning of large areas of heather, and the unsustainable culling of mountain hares. All of these practices have a serious impact on our natural environment.
“We believe the Scottish Government should recognise there is an opportunity to restore Scotland’s iconic upland habitats to their full potential, and ensure action is taken without unnecessary delay.”