As the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill undergoes scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday 2 December), we are urging Scottish Ministers to work rigorously to grasp this opportunity to get the detail right in a bill which is vital for the protection of Scotland’s wildlife.
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The Bill aims to update legislation protecting Scottish wildlife and ensure legislation which regulates and manages the natural environment is fit for purpose. Specifically, its aims include modernising game law, improving snaring practice, changing the licensing system for protected species, amending current arrangements for deer management and deer stalking and strengthening protection of badgers, amongst other things.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust broadly welcomes the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill and hopes that Parliament will pass it at Stage 1. However, the conservation charity strongly believes the Bill can be further improved and clarified in several areas.
Tony King, Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Head of Policy, said: “We support the provisions on non-native species and the proposals for Sites of Special Scientific Interest contained within this Bill. However, other areas fall far short of the mark.
“The proposals on deer management are, in our professional opinion, unworkable and will simply not result in the desired outcome i.e. sustainable deer management in Scotland. We also have serious concerns about the proposal to extend the licensable purposes under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to “any other social, economic or environmental purpose”.
“More fundamentally, we believe a Bill that purports to be about ‘Wildlife and Natural Environment’ must address one of the fundamental reasons for the decline in biodiversity and ecosystem health, namely, habitat fragmentation. To not to do so within this Bill will be a huge missed opportunity to provide a legislative underpinning for the implementation of several commitments made on biodiversity at the recent Convention on Biological Diversity COP10 meeting in Nagoya, Japan. Policy initiatives in the last two decades, whilst laudable, have failed to improve ecological coherence, even on local and regional scales.
“Whilst interest in this Bill so far seems to focus on its proposed legislation over the poisoning of birds of prey, it’s important to recognise that the significance of this Bill spans far further than this one, albeit extremely concerning, issue. It is vital that all the elements of this Bill strike the right balance for it to stand a real chance of delivering legislative protection for all of Scotland’s wildlife.”
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s full response to the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill can be read at www.swt.org.uk/campaigns/wildlife-bill.
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Nicola McGovern, PR and Communications Manager
Notes to Editors
1. The Scottish Wildlife Trust is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing more than 35,000 members who care for wildlife and the environment. The Scottish Wildlife Trust seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 reserves Scotland-wide.
2. The Scottish Wildlife Trust receives financial assistance and support from a range of organisations, funders and individuals including Scottish Natural Heritage and People’s Postcode Lottery.