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Trees for Life legal challenge to be heard at Scottish Court of Session - Trees for Life

Beaver © scotlandbigpicture.com
Beaver © scotlandbigpicture.com

A legal challenge by Trees for Life to the Scottish Government’s beaver killing policy will be heard by the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Thursday 3 June and Friday 4 June.

Trees for Life says the Government’s nature agency NatureScot is breaking the law by failing to make the killing of the protected species a last resort when management is required.

The rewilding charity says NatureScot must consider moving beavers to areas of Scotland where they would be welcome and can help boost biodiversity, rather than issuing licences for them to be killed when they cause local damage to farming interests.

The case aims to ensure a safer future for beavers, which can help tackle the nature and climate crises because their dams create nature-rich and flood-reducing wetlands. Trees for Life also says any management changes must be practical and effective in protecting farmers’ interests.

“A ruling in our favour could transform the fortunes of Scotland’s wild beavers. But whatever the legal outcome, this case is spotlighting glaring inconsistencies in the Government’s approach to protecting this still-fragile native species – and why a more nature-friendly, climate-friendly and farmer-friendly approach is needed,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive.

The Government declared beavers to be legally protected in 2019. But NatureScot has since issued dozens of killing licences when beavers are said to be damaging farmland – even though laws on protected species require management to have the least possible impact on their conservation status.

Given the legal protection afforded to beavers and the logic of taking a precautionary approach to their management, Trees for Life is making a strong case that all viable non-lethal alternatives to killing should be explored so that killing of beavers is genuinely a last resort.

Trees for Life agrees with NatureScot that beaver impacts sometimes need to be managed, but believes NatureScot is legally obliged to consider trapping and relocating beavers as an alternative to lethal control of beavers when it issues licenses – something NatureScot contends.

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Posted On: 03/06/2021

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