Lynx reintroduction discussed in Scottish Parliament for first time - Scotland The Big Picture

European lynx, adult female with spots on sandy fur and pointed ears walking through woodland
European lynx (Felis lynx) adult female walking through woodland, Norway ©

Missing native species could help restore nature and benefit communities, say charities

The case for reintroducing lynx to Scotland is being discussed in the Scottish Parliament for the first time, with a reception today (Tuesday 25 April) organised by rewilding charities and sponsored by Ariane Burgess MSP.

The Lynx to Scotland parliamentary event held at Holyrood reflects growing public support for the return of the Eurasian lynx – a native species missing from Scotland since being made extinct through hunting and habitat loss more than 500 years ago.

MSPs, senior advisors and rural groups are to attend the event, hosted by Lynx to Scotland project partners SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, Trees for Life and The Lifescape Project.

“It’s good news that politicians and policy makers are now seriously discussing the return of lynx, which would have strong public support. Scotland is one of the poorest places on Earth for nature, and if we are serious about tackling the nature and climate emergencies, these conversations really matter,” said Peter Cairns, Executive Director of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

The potential for reintroducing lynx was also debated in the Scottish Parliament on 20 April, after a parliamentary motion by the SNP’s Kenneth Gibson MSP received cross-party support.

The motion noted calls on the Scottish Government to rectify lynx extinction in Scotland by a managed reintroduction, following appropriate assessments. It highlighted the moral and ecological case for the species’ return, and how lynx reintroduction could make Scotland’s natural world richer and stronger.

Research suggests the Highlands has sufficient habitat to support around 400 wild lynx. Reintroducing the species could help reduce the impacts of deer browsing on woodland, boost biodiversity and restore natural processes, while also providing fresh economic opportunities for local communities, says the Lynx to Scotland project.

The rewilding charities emphasise that any lynx reintroduction should properly consider all relevant stakeholder interests and legitimate concerns, including through full consultations.

Scotland has more woodland deer than any other European country. By preying on roe deer – their preferred prey – lynx could reduce browsing pressure on regenerating woodlands, helping to expand and enrich the country’s forests. Lynx could also act as high-profile ambassadors for nature recovery, attracting valuable tourism revenue for rural communities.

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Posted On: 25/04/2023

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