MSPs debate the conservation of wild land and wildlife

Trust welcomes Scottish Parliament debate.

The John Muir Trust welcomed a recent Scottish Parliament debate as an opportunity to step up nationwide discussion on the rapid loss of Scotland’s wild land.

The early-March debate followed a motion calling for ‘a step change in conserving wild land and endangered species’ lodged by Murdo Fraser MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife, Con) and which won the support of SNP, Labour, Conservative and independent MSPs.

Debate covered the plight of species such as the wildcat and red squirrel, as well as wild land. The speakers all recognised the Year of Natural Scotland as an opportunity to focus on these issues and call for action.  

The Trust was encouraged to hear the Environment and Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, restate the importance of wild land as set out in Scottish Planning Policy. We also welcomed his commitment to listening to the views of all parties on wild land protection during a forthcoming consultation on a new draft Scottish planning policy.

The Minister acknowledged the Trust’s Wild Land Campaign and conceded that development pressures on Scotland’s wild land have grown more intense, and that the question of wild land protection is gaining greater significance. He referred to the need for a balance to be struck between gaining the optimum climate and economic benefits from Scotland’s renewable energy resource and protecting our landscapes.

However we remain hopeful that, as people begin to fully understand the contribution that wild land and the environment makes to Scotland’s economy, protection will be recognised as critical to ensuring a stable and genuinely sustainable economy. We will continue to encourage politicians from across the political spectrum to put practical measures in place to stop any further loss of Scotland’s wild land. 

MSPs who spoke in the debate include: Murdo Fraser MSP; Liz Smith MSP; Claire Baker MSP; Claudia Beamish MSP; Mike MacKenzie MSP; Joan McAlpine MSP; and Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Environment and Climate Change).

For a full transcript of the debate see pp50-57

Watch an archived video link of the debate (37.33 minutes long)