The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, Jonny Hughes, has called for the reintroduction of the once native Eurasian lynx to Scotland.
The Trust believes there is both a moral and ecological case for reintroduction of species that have been made extinct in Scotland due to habitat loss and persecution. Reintroducing top-level predators such as the lynx would help restore the balance in Scotland’s natural ecosystems, which continue to decline in the face of widespread threats, such as overgrazing and inappropriate development.
Jonny Hughes said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust has experience in bringing keystone species back to Scotland, having been a lead partner in the groundbreaking Scottish Beaver Trial, a trial reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver to Argyll. This was the first ever licensed reintroduction of a mammal species to the UK.
“The five-year scientific monitoring period of the Scottish Beaver Trial has now come to an end and we await a ministerial decision on the future of beavers in Scotland. We believe that lynx should also be considered for reintroduction and in many ways could be a flagship for the restoration of native habitats, particularly woodlands into the future. Although reintroductions of this nature are complex and must follow strict international guidelines, Scotland is leading the way with its new Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations launched by the Scottish Government earlier this year, through the work of the Scottish National Species Reintroduction Forum of which the Trust is a key member.
“Finding the right locations will be one of the major challenges for a potential lynx project and there will be a range of stakeholders who will need to work in partnership to ensure the best chance of success and support, as has been the case in the Scottish Beaver Trial.
“It is important that we all understand the potential benefits of bringing back the lynx to our woodland ecosystems, but also to our forestry and tourism industries. At the same time we should understand the challenges that this beautiful once native cat will bring with it.”