Fears that the Cairngorm's National Park proposals will damage both rural jobs and protected species
Today, the Grampian Moorland Group are staging an online protest – called #ProtestInThePark – against changes proposed in the Cairngorm’s National Park’s draft five-year plan.
The park authority are planning to cull up to half the red deer population – a figure which goes beyond what the Scottish Government-commissioned Deer Working Group report recommends.
As Alex Hogg, Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association wrote in a letter to the Park’s Board: “We are constantly contacted by deer managers in the Park who feel there is a better way than killing deer 24/7, all year round, when seasons were put in place to protect the welfare of an iconic species, much loved by the people of Scotland. It should be noted, for example, that night culling of deer is illegal across much of the EU, yet goes on within the Park. Further culls of up to 50% more again, with a preference against the use of fencing, will unquestionably place more stalking jobs at risk on estates, while increasing conflict.”
Rural jobs are already at risk in the Scottish Highlands, as more and more estates move into forestry and tree planting which requires fewer workers than running an estate which focuses on stalking or shooting businesses. The Cairngorms National Park claim they will still employ qualified deer managers – but these two statements appear self-defeating. The Grampian Moorland Group believe 400 jobs could be at risk.
The Park’s draft plan also proposes “a shift to less economic models of game bird management” and recommends the introduction of grouse moor licensing. This all points towards a move away from managed moorland which, as we know, is a vital habitat for so many red and amber-listed species, particularly in the Highlands. There are also concerns that the Park’s plans to expand its woodland to cover a minimum of 7,000 hectares. The Board claim this will have benefits in terms of carbon sequestration, but the data on this has not been published. What is certain is that this tree planting will have a negative effect on red-listed species such as the curlew, which depend on open habitats for survival.
We can only hope that the Cairngorms National Park Board will see sense and rethink a number of their proposals which will be detrimental to rural communities and rural jobs, as well as to the wildlife of the National Park. As Alex Hogg pointed out in his letter, this Partnership Plan was open to public consultation. But who has consulted the people who live and work in the Park, and have made it what it is today?
You can join their online protest here: https://www.facebook.com/events/695099538507941?ref=newsfeed