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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


Improving the protection of wild mammals - Scottish Government

Consultation on improving animal welfare announced.

A consultation on protecting wild mammals in Scotland has been announced by the Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham. It follows a review of the operation of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, which was undertaken by the Rt Hon Lord Bonomy in 2016.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This consultation seeks to explore recommendations to improve animal welfare legislation and the contributions we receive will be of considerable value in informing our thinking. Scotland led the way in 2002 by banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs and we remain committed to improving animal welfare across the board.”  

Improving the Protection of Wild Mammals in Scotland - Scottish Government Consultation

Consultation Closes 31 Jan 2018

Overview: We recognised concerns about whether legislation on fox-hunting in Scotland is working properly. That is why we asked the Right Honourable Lord Bonomy to undertake a review to ascertain whether the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 is providing a sufficient level of protection for wild mammals, while at the same time allowing effective and humane control of mammals, such as foxes, where necessary.

Lord Bonomy’s report is an important milestone and represents a considered, objective and comprehensive examination of the issues. He outlines a significant number of potential improvements for the conduct of operations under the 2002 Act, and to the Act itself.

Take part here.


Clean run the rivers - Northumberland National Park

This summer a major search was launched for a beautiful water plant to help check the health of rivers and streams in Northumberland National Park.

The extensive survey, which is helping to support Northumberland National Park Authority’s vision for the natural environment, saw a team of 17 National Park volunteers, supported by the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, inspecting bodies of water across the Park for the plants.

‘Water crowfoots’ are aquatic plants related to buttercups that are native to the UK and are recognisable by their small, seasonal white flowers. Water crowfoots thrive best in unpolluted, moving water courses, such as streams and rivers and their presence has long been used as a natural indicator of clean water. There are several closely related species which are sometimes hard to tell apart.

Water Crowfoots in the National Park (image: Northumberland National Park)Water Crowfoots in the National Park (image: Northumberland National Park)

 Abi Mansley, Programmes Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The water crowfoot survey is one of the activities we have carried out as part of our drive to enhance nature within the National Park. In addition to looking for water crowfoot, other things we plan to monitor include the range of the Mountain Bumblebee and Black Grouse, the number of high-quality hay meadow sites and waxcap grassland sites (special grasslands that support an array of colourful fungi). The River Coquet has long been renowned as a great place to see water crowfoot, alongside rivers and streams in the Tweed catchment in the north of the National Park, but the data we had was out of date and needed checking for accuracy. The aim of this initial survey is to collect new, more precise and up-to-date data and to set a benchmark from which we can measure future changes.”

The data collected during the water crowfoot survey are currently being collated and will eventually be shared with the North East Records Centre at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle.


£ 1 Million to Restore Wales' Important Peatlands - Snowdonia National Park

Thanks to a generous contribution of £ 1m from the Welsh Government's Sustainable Management Scheme, some of Wales' most important peatlands will be protected, maintained and improved.

Peatland (image: Snowdonia National Park)(image: Snowdonia National Park)

Wales has over 70,000 hectares of peatland and most of these are blanket bogs in the uplands. Following this new financial support, some of Wales' peatlands will be able to be sustainably managed which will bring many benefits to the country's ecosystems. Important carbon will be stored, it will provide opportunities to alleviate flood risk, it will provide clean drinking water and provide natural habitats for valuable biodiversity.

The Mawndiroedd Cymru (translated from Welsh means Wales’ Peatlands),  scheme is a joint scheme between the Snowdonia National Park Authority, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Natural Resources Wales and the National Trust, but will also be working with other organisations.   It will run until the end of August 2020 and will employ a Project Manager based in Snowdonia and two Project Officers - one based in Snowdonia and the other in the Brecon Beacons.

On behalf of the partnership, Rhys Owen, Head of Agriculture and Conservation at  Snowdonia National Park Authority said, “We are extremely grateful to the Welsh Government for its generosity in contributing towards a scheme which will help to ensure a prosperous future for Welsh peatlands. Peat restoration is beneficial to all elements of today's society as it reduces carbon emissions, improves water quality and improves river management. In addition, it will assist land managers in improving grazing opportunities, it will retain the distinctiveness of our historic landscapes and preserve prehistoric features.


Scientists complete conservation 'atlas of life' – University of Oxford

An international team of scientists have completed the ‘atlas of life’ - the first global review and map of every vertebrate on Earth.

Led by researchers at the University of Oxford and Tel Aviv University, the 39 scientists have produced a catalogue and atlas of the world’s reptiles. By linking this atlas with existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians, the team have found many new areas where conservation action is vital.

In order to best protect wildlife, it’s important to know where species live, so the right action can be taken and scarce funding allocated in the right places. With this in mind, an international group of researchers have produced detailed maps highlighting the whereabouts of all known land-living species of vertebrate on Earth.

Maps showing the habitats of almost all birds, mammals and amphibians have been completed since 2006, but it was widely thought that many reptile species were too poorly known to be mapped.

Map of all land vertebrates (University of Oxford)

Map of all land vertebrates (University of Oxford)

In research featured in Nature Ecology & Evolution, scientists from the University of Oxford School of Geography and Environment worked in close collaboration with colleagues from of Tel Aviv University and 30 other institutions to produce the new reptile atlas, which covers more than 10,000 species of snakes, lizards and turtles/tortoises. The data completes the world map of 31,000 species of humanity’s closest relatives, including around 5000 mammals, 10,000 birds and 6000 frogs and salamanders.

The map has revealed unexpected trends and regions of biodiversity fragility. They include the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, inland arid southern Africa, the Asian steppes, the central Australian deserts; the Brazilian caatinga scrubland, and the high southern Andes.


Birds reveal importance of good neighbours for health and ageing – University of East Anglia

Birds who live next door to family members or to other birds they know well are physically healthier and age more slowly, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The research, conducted in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Leeds (UK) and Groningen (the Netherlands), is published today (Tuesday 10 Oct) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Much like humans, many wild animals ‘own’ a private piece of land, or territory, that they rigorously defend against intruders. Having good neighbours that respect the territory boundaries means less work and stress for territory owners – but are some neighbours better than others? Good neighbours come in two varieties. Firstly, when neighbours are extended family members, they share genes and therefore refrain from fighting over space or intruding into each other’s territories. Second, if neighbours know each other well, they should keep the peace and cooperate with each other in order to prevent new neighbours, with whom they must resettle all the rules regarding territory boundaries, from moving into the neighbourhood.

Image credit: Sjouke Anne KingmaImage credit: Sjouke Anne Kingma

Scientists studied a population of Seychelles warblers, a small island bird endemic to the Seychelles islands, to test whether territory owners with more related, or more familiar, neighbours had more peaceful territories and better health as a result. Territory owners were sometimes observed fighting with their neighbours, but never with family members or neighbours that they were neighbours with in previous years.

Lead author of the research, Kat Bebbington of UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “Defending territory boundaries is crucial if animals are to hold onto valuable food and other resources. Territory owners who are constantly fighting with neighbours are stressed and have little time to do other important things – such as finding food and producing offspring – and their health suffers as a result. Interestingly, we show that it’s not just relatives that can be trusted, but also neighbours you get to know well over time. Something similar probably occurs in human neighbourhoods: if you’ve lived next to your neighbour for years, you are much more likely to trust each other and help each other out now and then.”


Deposit refund system could save councils £35 million a year - CPRE 

New study finds that local authorities stand to benefit from introduction of a DRS for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans.

A new report published today finds that local authorities across England could save up to £35 million every year if a deposit refund system (DRS) for drinks containers was introduced in England.  Analysis of data across eight local authorities, including those with high and low recycling rates, found that rather than losing income, the individual authorities could potentially make savings of between £60,000 and £500,000.

Some local authorities have expressed concerns that the introduction of a DRS would lead to a reduction in their income, as people use the scheme to recycle their bottles and cans rather than the local authorities’ kerbside recycling systems.

In response to these concerns, a consortium comprising Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Reloop, together with Melissa and Stephen Murdoch, commissioned Eunomia Research and Consulting to look into this issue.

The report finds that local authorities would lose some income as there would be a reduced number of cans and plastic bottles in the kerbside collections to sell to recyclers. However, the savings made from having fewer containers to collect and sort, as well as reduced levels of littering and reduced landfill charges will actually create savings that outweigh the loss of revenue. It makes recommendations for both government and local authorities on how kerbside services can be adapted to ensure that the savings resulting from a DRS are shared equally between county councils and district councils.

Download the Impacts of a Deposit Refund System on Local Authority Waste Services report


WWT proposes new accountability law - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

A new law will be proposed at Westminster today (Wed 11 Oct) which would commit the Government to making the UK a little greener and healthier each year, or have to face up to Parliament and the public if they don’t.

The WWT will be urging MPs at a Committee room meeting to make the Government accountable for the country’s environmental performance through a statutory annual statement and debate – in the same way they do for its economic performance.

The new law would make the Government accountable for building – and not depleting – the value of services the environment provides for us all each year. This includes the value of our landscape providing clean air, natural materials, food and clean water and absorbing carbon, pollution and the effects of floods or drought. The Office of National Statistics estimated this at nearly £500bn in 2014 – which was roughly two-thirds the money spent on public services that year, which the Government is held accountable for.

The UK’s “natural capital” also includes the human health benefits a healthy British environment can bring. For example it’s estimated that every £1 spent on nature-based healthcare (e.g. doctors prescribing for sick people to spend time in green spaces) returns £3.12 of benefit in reducing the need for drugs and other treatments.

The proposed law is one of a number of recommendations in a WWT policy paper called Nature’s Way – The Environment for Success. The paper is timed to make politicians think about environmental factors as they design the UK’s post-Brexit policy framework.

Download the WWT policy paper Nature’s Way – The Environment for Success (PDF)


Scientists develop tool which can predict coastal erosion and recovery in extreme storms - University of Plymouth

A traffic light system based on the severity of approaching storms will highlight the level of action required to protect particular beaches 

The damage caused to beaches by extreme storms on exposed energetic coastlines and the rate at which they recover can now be accurately predicted thanks to new research led by the University of Plymouth.  Working with the University of New South Wales, scientists have developed a computer model which uses past wave observations and beach assessments to forecast the erosion and/or accretion of beach sediments over the coming year. They believe it could be a sea change for coastal managers, giving them the opportunity to make decisions that could protect communities from severe wave damage.

In a study, published in Coastal Engineering, the academics say deriving sufficient knowledge and understanding to forecast erosion and accretion with a level of confidence is arguably the ‘holy grail’ for coastal scientists and engineers.

In seeking to address that, they have developed a traffic light system based on the severity of approaching storms, which will highlight the level of action required to protect particular beaches.

Dr Mark Davidson, Reader in Coastal Processes at the University of Plymouth, led the research. He said: “In the past, coastal managers have always tended to be responsive. They have been unable to fully predict how their areas might respond over periods of up to a year, and to assess any pre-emptive measures they could take. This research goes some way to changing that, enabling us to warn people in advance about how beaches will respond and helping officials take the steps they need to protect themselves and their communities.” 

The full study – Annual prediction of shoreline erosion and subsequent recovery by Mark A. Davidson, Ian L. Turner, Kristen D. Splinter and Mitchel D. Harley – will be published in the December issue of Coastal Engineering, doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2017.09.008.


Forest grazing counteracts the effectiveness of trees to reduce flood risk - University of Lancaster

Planting trees can reduce flood risk, but a high intensity forest land use, such as grazing, can counteract the positive effect of the trees, a recently published study suggests.

As the frequency and severity of flooding becomes an increasing problem, land managers are turning to natural flood management measures, such as tree planting, to reduce the risk. 

The experimental agroforestry site in Scotland used for the research (image: University of Lancaster) The experimental agroforestry site in Scotland used for the research (image: University of Lancaster)

When rainfall exceeds the rate at which water can enter the soil it flows rapidly over the land’s surface into streams and rivers. Trees can help to reduce the risk of surface runoff by increasing the number of large pores in the soil through which water can drain more easily. Land use, such as grazing, also affects the soil’s ability to absorb water; however, while the effect of land use on surface runoff has been well studied in grasslands, little is known about the effect of land use in forests. 

The study, undertaken by Lancaster University and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and published in the journal Geoderma, investigated the rate that water infiltrated the soil under trees at an experimental agroforestry site in Scotland. Researchers found that infiltration rates were between ten and a hundred times higher under trees, when the forested area remained relatively undisturbed, compared with adjacent pasture. Where sheep were allowed to graze under the trees there was no observable difference from the pasture.  

Access the paper: K.R. Chandler, C.J. Stevens, A. Binley, A.M. Keith, Influence of tree species and forest land use on soil hydraulic conductivity and implications for surface runoff generation, In Geoderma, Volume 310, 2018, Pages 120-127, ISSN 0016-7061, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2017.08.011.


New 5.5 million euro CANAPE project launches in the Broads – Broads Authority

Partners from Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Great Britain met in the Broads National Park this week to kick off a brand new 5.5m euro project. The Broads Authority is the lead partner of CANAPE (Creating A New Approach to Peatland Ecosystems).

The matched funded project will give the Broads Authority  over 700,000 euros from the European Regional Development Fund and will enable the Broads Authority to continue to deliver the ‘Hickling Vision’ and restore more areas of eroded reed bed at Hickling Broad. The project will see innovative geo-textile materials used to form a bunded wall into which sediments dredged from Hickling will be pumped and then planted with local reeds. The funding will also aim to use healthy peatlands in the Broads National Park to help regulate global climate change as the peatland naturally absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere when correctly maintained.

It is an opportunity for people working in the Broads to transfer new and innovative concepts about managing lowland peatlands across the North Sea region of Europe. Together partners will improve how to assess lake and peatland restoration options, as well as examining the multiple benefits of peatlands, including flood storage and carbon capture. Partners will also explored the creation of future jobs by the development of new wetland products and the economic benefits this approach could produce.

Senior Ecologist for the Broads Authority, Andrea Kelly said of the partnership meeting,

“This is an opportunity to share our experiences with the CANAPE partners and benefit from working across borders with people who are experienced in similar issues. We aim to test new approaches to gain wider benefits of peatlands, including carbon and water management, as well as new potential economic benefits.”

Partners described the site visits as ‘highly important’ and ‘an opportunity for cooperation’ with Peter Hahn from the Ministry of Environment and Food in Denmark, saying,

“This is a valuable opportunity to exchange knowledge and most importantly to have a really positive impact upon climate change.”

The CANAPE project is an opportunity for the Broads Authority to share their knowledge of lowland peatland management with their European partners. The event marks the beginning of a long term conservation partnership, to work for the benefit of the Broads National Park and the wider global climate.


Peak District project wins Park Protector 2017 – Campaign for National Parks

The Community Science project is run by the Moors for the Future Partnership and took home the top prize in the 2017 Park Protector Award. The Award, which is run by Campaign for National Parks, and the accompanying £2,000 grant was presented at a parliamentary reception on 11 October 2017. 

Sarah Proctor of the project said: “Moors for the Future Partnership’s Community Science team are delighted to have won the 2017 Park Protector Award and would like to thank Campaign for National Parks on behalf of our volunteers, partners and Heritage Lottery Fund, by whom the project is supported. 

Enabling local communities and visitors to identify, record and monitor the wildlife of the internationally important blanket bog habitats in the Peak District National Park and South Pennines, is a great way to build and share our understanding of this landscape. This insight will help us better protect important habitats and species now and in the future. Winning this award will help us reach new volunteers and funders and allow us to buy more equipment to support our wildlife surveys, including monitoring otters, mink and water voles in and around the Park.”


Ivy lifeline for autumn moths – Butterfly Conservation

Despite Christmas being weeks away, wildlife lovers will be gathered around the ivy over the coming nights as they search for rare and spectacular moths looking for an autumn lifeline. 

Clifden Nonpareil (image: Butterfly Conservation)An immigration of rare moths from Europe is currently taking place across the UK with the scarce Silver-striped Hawk-moth and Radford's Flame Shoulder all seen in recent days.

These rarities have also been joined by spectacular immigrant species such as the giant Convolvulus Hawk-moth and Humming-bird Hawk-moth.

Clifden Nonpareil (image: Butterfly Conservation)

The Clifden Nonpareil, one of the UK’s most striking autumn moths has recently become established from Dorset to Kent but numbers have this year been boosted by dozens of immigrants from the continent.

As part of this year’s Moth Night, an annual UK-wide event to record moths, organisers Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are asking the public to investigate their local patches of flowering ivy to help gather more information on the plant’s importance to moths.

Ivy provides a lifeline to moths, butterflies and other pollinators as it flowers late in the year when other nectar sources are unavailable.

Over the next three nights wildlife lovers are being asked to take a torchlight safari of ivy flowers and count some of the moths that are on the wing in autumn.  


Google Street View launches for New Forest tracks – New Forest National Park

Miles of the New Forest’s approved off-road paths can now be seen from a new perspective using Google Street View.

The partnership between Google and the New Forest National Park Authority saw staff members and Forestry Commission volunteers photograph the Forest’s top tracks using the Google Trekker.

The Trekker backpack is four feet high, weighs 22 kilograms and is fitted with a 15-angle lens camera that takes 360-degree pictures every 2.5 seconds. The technology enables walking routes to be captured and digitised in the same In total, 102 miles of approved main tracks were photographed during summer 2016 and the images can now be accessed online through Google Maps.

Iconic areas that have been ‘Trekked’ include:

  • Blackwater Arboretum and the Forest’s tallest tree
  • Hurst Castle, a 16th century fort established by Henry VIII
  • Beaulieu River
  • Bolderwood waymarked walks
  • Knightwood Oak, the largest Oak tree in the Forest that is more than 500 years old.

As well as being available on Google Maps, the interactive tours will be embedded onto the National Park Authority’s walking and cycling website. This will allow people to explore their route before setting off, check it is suitable for them and keep to the main tracks to avoid disturbing wildlife.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation and Outreach Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The trekker footage will help people plan their time outdoors in the National Park. The routes are carefully selected so that they both visit some of the best of what the New Forest has to offer and guide people to use approved rights of way, footpaths and more robust tracks.’ way Google Street View enables users to see 360-degree images of streets and roads.


Government reaffirms commitment to lead the world in cost-effective clean growth - Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

The Clean Growth Strategy sets out an ambitious blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future.

An ambitious strategy setting out how the UK is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change while driving economic growth, has been published today (12 October 2017) by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.

‘The Clean Growth Strategy: Leading the way to a low carbon future’ builds on the UK’s strong progress to date. Carbon emissions in the UK have fallen and national income risen faster and further than any other nation in the G7 – since 1990, emissions are down by 42% while the economy has grown by 67%.

(image: DBEIS)The government’s strategy sets out how the whole country can benefit from low carbon economic opportunities through the creation of new technologies and new businesses, which creates jobs and prosperity across the UK, while meeting our ambitious national targets to tackle climate change.

(image: DBEIS)

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "This government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change. For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation. The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way."

Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry said: "The impact of the Paris agreement and the unstoppable global shift towards low carbon technologies gives the UK an unparalleled opportunity. By focusing on Clean Growth, we can cut the cost of energy, drive economic prosperity, create high value jobs and improve our quality of life."


SNH project to tackle species including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American mink boosted by National Lottery Funding - Scottish Natural Heritage 

Scottish Natural Heritage’s Scottish Invasive Species Initiative awarded National Lottery support

A partnership project to encourage communities to tackle invasive non-native species such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American mink in their local area has received a major financial boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Scottish Natural Heritage has received a grant of £1.59 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative project, it was announced today. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the partnership project aims to establish community-based approaches to deal with non-native species in northern Scotland, working with 10 Fisheries Trusts/District Salmon Fisheries Boards and Aberdeen University. Invasive non-native species cost the Scottish economy at least £250 million each year.

Hogweed (image: SNH)Hogweed (image: SNH)

To combat the impacts of invasive non-native species, the project team will work with communities to establish local management of specific priority species such as giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and American mink.  The target species will be managed in selected locations within a 29,500 km2 area of northern Scotland.  The project will focus on species associated with lochs and rivers, and aims to establish a volunteer network which will help to look after local freshwater biodiversity after the project has been completed.  Collaboration with charity Apex Scotland will provide a range of volunteering opportunities for offenders, ex-offenders and those recovering from addiction.  The project has also made links with the John Muir Trust to enable volunteers to work towards their John Muir Award through taking part in project activities.

Mike Cantlay, Chair of Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “The aim of this exciting and ambitious project is to raise awareness and understanding of invasive non-native species, biosecurity measures and the importance and sensitivity of our freshwater environment. Scotland’s fresh waters constitute more than 90% of the total volume of fresh waters in the United Kingdom and support a range of economic activities as well as ecosystem services such as drinking water, electricity generation and flood protection.

“This project will support us in working with local communities and organisations to help care for this precious resource. We’d like to thank National Lottery players for the funding which will help us to continue our work to create better places for people and nature across the whole of Scotland.”


Trust joins call for temporary ban on mountain hare culls - Scottish Wildlife Trust

A coalition of ten environmental and outdoor organisations including the Scottish Wildlife Trust have repeated their appeal to the Scottish Government to introduce urgent safeguards for mountain hare populations.

The group is asking for a temporary ban on all mountain hare culling on grouse moors until measures are put in place to ensure their numbers can remain at acceptable, sustainable levels.

The Scottish Government has a duty to maintain mountain hare populations in a state of good health, otherwise it may be in breach of its legally binding international obligations for this species. However, mountain hares are now routinely culled on a large scale across many grouse moors in Scotland.

Mountain hare (© Steve Gardner via SWT)Mountain hare (© Steve Gardner via SWT)

In 2014, the coalition warned the Scottish Government that the ‘voluntary restraint’ that was claimed to be in place was unlikely to protect these mammals from wide-scale culls on grouse moors, including in the Cairngorms National Park.  Since then, there have been multiple reports of culls being carried out across the country – suggesting that voluntary restraint has been ignored. These culls are believed to be having a serious negative effect on hare populations. In some areas it has been shown that the culls are leading to severe population declines and potentially even local extinctions.

Our Director of Conservation Susan Davies, Director of Conservation said: “Mountain hares are an iconic species that act as an indicator of the ecological health of our uplands, and seeing them gives much pleasure to hillwalkers and tourists alike. There has been continued and widespread culling throughout the period of voluntary restraint that was called for in 2015 to allow research to be carried out. This suggests that some grouse moor managers have no concern for the long-term viability of mountain hare populations. We believe that grouse moor managers have a responsibility for this important native species. Lethal control should be halted until there is both accurate information on the number of hares culled, and the true effect of these culls on the health of the hare population is known.”


There is similar coverage from all ten coalition member  organisations. The organisations calling for action are the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Raptor Study Group, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Cairngorms Campaign, National Trust Scotland, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Mammal Society, John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Scotland.


Response: Scottish Moorland Group statement on mountain hares - Scottish Land & Estates

The Scottish Moorland Group has issued the following statement in response to criticism of the management of mountain hare populations. 

Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, said: “Mountain hares populations are often very high on managed moorland in comparison to other upland environments. On occasion, it is necessary to cull some mountain hares to limit the spread of ticks, for the protection of trees and to maintain fragile habitats. Such management is comparable to organisations such as RSPB, SWT and John Muir Trust culling deer on land owned by their charities. 

“There is no evidence provided by the ten organisations to substantiate claims that periodic culls are endangering mountain hare populations. In 2014, we issued a joint statement with SNH which acknowledged the need for occasional culls but recognised the requirement to do so responsibly. Culls range from 14% to 5% of hare populations in years when culls are carried out, which is sustainable.


Mountain Hare Response - Scottish Gamekeepers Association

 A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "The activist organisations constantly calling for this in press releases would be better to explain to the public why they themselves have such comparatively poor populations of mountain hares on their holdings and why their management is producing so few. This is the elephant in the room which has never been properly addressed, amidst the campaigns. When the new guidance on best methodologies to count mountain hares is published, the SGA will be asking Scottish Government to ensure hares are counted on all holdings, including nature reserves and re-wilding areas not just grouse moors, so the public can finally get a transparent picture of where hares are declining and why." 


Scientific Publications

Risely, A., Klaassen, M. and Hoye, B. (2017), Migratory animals feel the cost of getting sick: a meta-analysis across species. J Anim Ecol. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12766


Lunja M. Ernst, Teja Tscharntke, Péter Batáry, Grassland management in agricultural vs. forested landscapes drives butterfly and bird diversity, Biological Conservation, Volume 216, December 2017, Pages 51-59, ISSN 0006-3207, DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.027.


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