Where possible, we support other causes with similar aims, such as Wildcat Haven, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and The Bat Conservation Trust.
There is no use in reintroducing lost species if we let the existing ones die out.
Rewilding is not without its obstacles. Livestock owners worry about the presence of their animals having natural predators, for example, but the movement enjoys strong public support and we find it encouraging that the first application for a licence to reintroduce the Eurasian Lynx to Kielder Forest was submitted in July 2017 by Dr Paul O’Donoghue, whom many of our followers have met at our annual Highland Gathering.
Perhaps the most convincing arguments for rewilding are:
- Having previously hunted species to extinction, we have a moral and ethical duty to bring them back, and
- The reintroduction of keystone species such as beavers and lynx enhance an ecosystem’s ability to regulate itself.
Currently, deer numbers in Scotland are too high. They feed on tree saplings, damage young trees with their antlers and strip the bark from older trees. In order to prevent excessive damage to Scotland’s woodland (only 5% of the original Caledonian Forest remains), deer have to be shot as it has no natural predators. The Eurasian Lynx is a deer specialist and would provide a natural restriction on their number.
The Scottish Beaver Trial successfully concluded in 2014, and on 24th November 2016, the Scottish Government announced that beavers would remain in Scotland. Their return marks the end of a 400 year absence and benefits of their reintroduction include the creation of new wetlands supporting a variety of other species such as otters, water voles, fish and dragonflies; the creation of more diverse woodlands through their tree-coppicing behaviour; helping to regulate flooding and improving water quality.
Beaver at Knapdale, Scotland. Photo credit: Steve Gardner
There are several good sources of information on rewilding in Scotland, including The Scottish Beaver Trial, The European Nature Trust and the Lynx UK Trust.