We are suppportive of Article 22 of the European Habitats Directive which allows for the reintroductions of native species.
However, the reintroduction of individual species requires proper studies to be made by the government, led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Our decision on whether to support these individual reintroductions will be based on the evidence of these studies.
In response to a debate at our AGM (Scottish Council), in 2006, it was stated that while we would not actively campaign on the introduction or re-introduction of wild animals, we would respond to issues as they arose based on the evidence available. As a result, we previously expressed our support of the reintroduction of beavers into Scotland at Knapdale in a programme proposed by SNH.
We had concerns with proposed reintroductions on the Alladale estate, based on the fact that these various species would not be free-ranging animals but would be introduced within enclosures. We are supportive of Mr Lister’s basic concept of re-wilding his estate, encouraging the growth of trees and shrubs by reducing grazing pressure, although our preference is for the regeneration to take place under natural processes, rather than re-planting of trees.
However, the use of fenced enclosures causes concern on two counts. Firstly, the landscape impacts could be huge. Secondly, any access restrictions would be directly in opposition to the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and there is a danger that the granting of permission to fence off large sections of the Alladale estate would set a precedent for other landowners to follow.
Public interest in the reintroduction of various species has clearly been demonstrated, as seen by the high media profile enjoyed by the Alladale estate throughout the whole of the UK. We feel there is a role for government, through SNH, to show leadership in taking further the discussions for a planned reintroduction of single species.