Union makes vital progress on wildlife management

The last 12 months has seen real progress being made in efforts to allow sensible and proportionate management of wildlife that are having a negative impact on farming and crofting. 
This has come at a time of unprecedented interest amongst farmers, crofters and the wider public about the ‘rewilding’ agenda. 
Whilst some have sought to grab headlines with sensationalist and ill-conceived proposals around the likes of lynx and wolves, NFU Scotland has been tirelessly working behind the scenes to make tangible progress on behalf of its members who are having to deal with sea eagles, beavers, geese and ravens.
That measured and reasoned approach to working with other stakeholders may have been out of the limelight but has resolutely represented the interests of members.
NFU Scotland’s Vice President Rob Livesey said: “NFU Scotland is committed to helping farmers and crofters do the right thing for the environment but without being unfairly impacted by conservation decisions made by others. 
“Our work is beginning to reap dividends, with many more officials, politicians and environmentalists coming to accept the necessity for responsible and sustainable management of wildlife. 
“As an example, the past year has seen a long line of brazen and presumptuous claims about the imminent reintroduction of lynx to Scotland. I can categorically reassure our members that the process for securing permission for the trial release of lynx is long and complex and any application would be subject to considerable analysis and debate. 
“We have used various forums and meetings with key stakeholders, officials and politicians to express our grave concerns, not only about the implications of the proposed reintroduction, but also the tenor of the public debate.
“I firmly believe that, outside of a small group of enthusiasts, there is little support for the current proposals. NFUS will continue to scrutinise the claims and farmers and crofters in Scotland can be confident that the Union, as a member of the Scottish National Species Reintroduction Forum, will take all necessary steps to ensure their interests are protected.
“Progress is also being made on a plan that will help manage the increasing impact that sea eagles are having on hill flocks up and down the west coast.  Regional stakeholder groups are already providing farmers and crofters with the means to work together and highlight their issues directly with SNH. 
“However, the expectation of a significant increase in the sea eagle population, and what that will mean for farmers and crofters who keep sheep, will add fresh impetus to the work of NFU Scotland, SNH and others in producing a management plan that aims to minimise conflict and predation. This will be published in early 2017. 
“The recent decision taken by the Scottish Government on allowing the reintroduction of beavers must be backed by strong and robust management of the species to prevent further significant damage to productive farmland.  Regrettably, NFUS had been a lone voice in calling for illegally released beavers on Tayside to be removed. 
“The failure of Scottish Government and its agencies to properly tackle the illegal release in its early days has seen number soar and widespread public support meant some form of reintroduction was inevitable. NFU Scotland co-ordinated a joint agreement between itself, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, and Scottish Land & Estates on the necessary management of beavers. 
“This was delivered to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who has accepted that whilst beavers may be here to stay, they will be managed to prevent unacceptable damage to farmland. 
“Predation of new-born lambs and calves by ravens also saw NFUS take action this year. In responding to SNH’s consultation on changes to General Licences, NFU Scotland supported innovative approaches to managing raven populations and called on SNH to increase awareness amongst farmer and crofters by publicising the existing licencing options available to control raven numbers. The Union will be working with SNH and members in areas like Caithness and Argyll to ensure the innovative approaches deliver results for the worst affected. 
“Reflecting the mounting problems caused by Greylag geese for members on Orkney and in other parts of Scotland, NFU Scotland alone called on SNH to add resident Greylag Geese to the General Licence during the months of July and August. SNH has indicated that it will be taking up the Union’s suggestion, meaning that in summer 2017 it will be easier for farmers and crofters to control resident Greylag geese numbers. 
“This alone won’t solve the problem, but it is evidence of NFU Scotland’s commitment to help find solutions to this and other goose management challenges across the country.”

Date Published:

News Article No.: 273/16

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