Lynx to Scotland – broad support for further discussions, says study - Trees for Life

‘Not now, but not never’ – cross-sector group needed to examine barriers to lynx return

European Lynx (Lynx lynx) adult female peering out from behind tree in winter birch forest. Bardu, Norway ©
European Lynx (Lynx lynx) adult female peering out from behind tree in winter birch forest. Bardu, Norway ©

There is sufficient appetite from a diverse cross-sector of rural stakeholders to examine whether potential barriers to a trial reintroduction of Eurasian lynx to Scotland can be overcome, says the first detailed study into the social feasibility of the species’ return.

The research, commissioned by the Lynx to Scotland project, spent a year consulting a wide range of national stakeholders and local communities in the Cairngorms National Park and Argyll. It was organised by charities SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, Trees for Life and Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Previous research suggests the Highlands has enough habitat – and roe deer, the animal’s preferred prey – to support a population of around 400 wild lynx. But the charities behind the study say a successful reintroduction is more dependent on people’s attitudes than the ecological science.

As part of the new study, over 100 interviews were held as well as several online webinars and four community events, with extensive contributions from a range of groups including farmers, gamekeepers, foresters, conservationists, landowners, tourism operators and rural communities.

Among the wide-ranging views, there was consensus for a participatory cross-stakeholder approach to further explore the benefits of and barriers to lynx reintroduction. The study recommends setting up a Lynx Action Group to build trust between stakeholders and address areas of disagreement over science and local knowledge, as well as the real and reasonable concerns of some stakeholders.

“When it comes to the return of the lynx, we’re in the realm of not yet – but not never. Positively, this new research shows there is sufficient appetite amongst different stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this little-known species and the potential for its return to Scotland,” said Peter Cairns, Executive Director of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. “The overall willingness across different sectors to engage in constructive and thoughtful discussions is heartening and very welcome.”

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Posted On: 28/04/2022

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