Wednesday, 10 October 2012
NFU Scotland is calling for a moratorium on species reintroduction in Scotland.
In its response to the Scottish Government consultation on the 2020 challenge for Scotland’s biodiversity, NFU Scotland stated that there should be no further reintroductions until current species related impacts are resolved. Based on experience, it believes a moratorium should be put in place until assurances can be given regarding the long-term management and funding of new reintroductions. Issues relating to funding and managing the impacts of other species on economically vulnerable farms and crofts also need to be resolved. The comments are made in light of member concerns over the reintroduction of species such as beavers and sea eagles, the illegal release of beavers into the wild and reduced funding levels being offered to those managing Scotland’s growing geese populations. Jamie Mellor, a member of NFU Scotland’s Environment and Land Use Committee and the Union’s representative on the National Species Reintroduction Forum said: “Given the symbiotic relationship between biodiversity and farming, there is an urgent need to take stock of the impact that existing re-introductions and species management schemes are having before any further steps are taken. “NFU Scotland firmly believes there should be no further reintroductions until current species-related impacts are resolved and assurances can be given regarding the long-term management and funding of new reintroductions. “In recent times we have had members worried over the loss of lambs to sea eagles; the official trial looking at the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland has been undermined by their illegal release in Tayside and funding levels to those asked to manage goose numbers have been cut. That has happened at a time when goose numbers have soared and their impact on farmland increased. “The biodiversity consultation also refers to a code for re-establishing species. We recently welcomed the publication of a report, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), at the request of the Scotland’s National Species Reintroduction Forum, to help inform debate about the future management of reintroduced species. “That report should form the base around which any code is developed. It would be essential that it takes account of the interests of land managers and sets out clearly the criteria around how these reintroduced species should be managed. “Funding issues also need to be factored in to any such plans. Restrictions on public finances have meant insufficient budget to properly support land managers affected by existing legal and illegal reintroductions, as well as those affected by other species, such as geese. It is fair that appropriate and accessible funding is made available to vulnerable farms and crofts to manage the impact that species can have on their livelihoods.” NFU Scotland’s President Nigel Miller added: “It is appropriate to take a long term look at how we preserve and maintain Scotland’s biodiversity. Experience suggests we need a more sophisticated conservation effort in the future, focused on securing balance between Scotland’s ecology and land management. The days of exclusively focusing on a flagship species should be left behind if we are to protect our iconic heritage and fragile rural economies.”