Trust welcomes Scottish Government proposal for deer regulations

Warm welcome to Proposal 10 in the Scottish Government’s Consultation on the Future of Land Reform in Scotland.

The John Muir Trust today gave a warm welcome to Proposal 10 in the Scottish Government’s Consultation on the Future of Land Reform in Scotland which recognises that Scotland’s biodiversity needs urgent protection from damage caused by high deer numbers.

Among a package of measures to reform land ownership and use, the paper calls for Scottish Natural Heritage to be given new powers to “require that landowners have in place detailed sustainable deer management plans that protect the public interest and that the plans are fully carried out”.

The new powers would underpin the current voluntary system, as a backstop to be used if the voluntary arrangements fail to deliver the 2020 Biodiversity targets.

The Scottish Government is also carrying out a separate review, which will be concluded in 2016, into whether the voluntary arrangements should be replaced by a new statutory system of deer management.

Mike Daniels, the John Muir Trust’s Head of Land and Science, said: “We warmly welcome this proposal from the Scottish Government to take action to protect what remains of our native woodland.

“Much of our upland environment is bare, degraded and impoverished as a result of overgrazing by deer.

“Many sporting estates have not just allowed, but encouraged deer numbers to escalate to unsustainable levels, which are harmful both to our ecosystem and to the wellbeing of the deer themselves.

“This is a chance to halt and reverse two centuries of damage.”

Watch our Managing Deer for Nature film

Find out how to have your say on the future of land reform in Scotland before 10 February 2015.