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ANOTHER LYNX REINTRODUCTION PROJECT

Unsurprisingly for the time of year, we have another attempt at Lynx reintroduction to review, engage with and respond to. Last time it was Kielder Forest, which was robustly and so effectively kicked into touch by Defra.

ANOTHER LYNX REINTRODUCTION PROJECT

SACS staff, members and our partner bodies contributed an enormous amount of time and effort with the last and deeply flawed attempt at Lynx reintroduction - a complete shambles led by the highly questionable Dr Paul O’Donohue. Michael Gove and Defra’s response was dagger sharp. Links below. Michael Gove’s letter to Paul O’Donohue absolutely worth a read.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lynx-reintroduction-in-kielder-forest

/news/lynx-trial-reintroduction

Lynx yet again

This week we have been informed of a new potential attempt at lynx reintroduction - this time in the Highlands:

https://www.grampianonline.co.uk/news/is-scotland-ready-for-return-of-the-lynx-225178/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2265214-people-in-scotland-to-be-asked-about-reintroducing-lynx-to-the-country/#ixzz6k5SXc17L

“This project is not a reintroduction project, it’s a social feasibility project. This is the first step in what could be a very long journey,” says Peter Cairns at Scotland: The Big Picture, one of the three groups conducting the research, along with Trees for Life and the Vincent Wildlife Trust.

Sadly, we aready have a drive towards some misinformation: “Past research has found broadly strong public support for a reintroduction of lynx either to the Scottish Highlands or the Forest of Dean in England, with a 2014 paper finding 65 per cent in favour.” Really? In 2019 a far larger national YouGov poll established that support for lynx reintroduction across the UK was actually only 45%.


SACS and rewilding

SACS and its members support many effective and locally-supported environmental projects. We do not support emotive eco-speak nonsense masquerading as an alternate land management regime in which land is not actually managed at all and humans are effectively excluded from their heritable lands by bullying, so-called environmentalist, landowners.

We refer to this as a 'modern Highland clearances', which, this current writer's forebears having been forcibly evicted from the land and ancestral homes burned to the ground, is a term we do not use lightly or without conviction.

'Rewilding’ as a term is utterly meaningless in a practical context; it sounds good when begging a naive public for donations, but is largely a lot of airheaded stupefying crap. It is not so long ago that in a public debate with Alex, the SACS director, that the director of Rewilding Scotland admitted that the term 'rewilding' was misleading and likely wrong in the context of what was hoped to be achieved. Alex suggested ‘conservation’ as an alternative term lacked clarity, dynamism and vision and that ‘rewilding’ relied on unfavourable presumptions, including minimal active land management.

We said it then and will repeat, that a far better term would be ‘enhancement’, which could cover flora and fauna and a joined-up drive to improvement necessarily supported by local communities most directly affected. Makes sense doesn’t it - a cross-sector drive towards environmental enhancement, but mindful of local people, their needs and wishes, especially those working on the land.

SACS and lynx reintroducton

SACS has long been active on proposed trial reintroductions of lynx. We have firmly represented members’ views at community meetings, via our membership of the National Species Reintroduction Forum, and directly to SNH (as it was), Natural England and Defra. We continue to engage with the authorities on this cross-border issue – if you introduce a mobile species to one land-linked nation you inevitably introduce to another.

On behalf of its members’ interests, local and national, SACS has no species bias against lynx, or any other big or wee beastie that may or may not have a genuine claim to reintroduction. However, one of our oft-voiced concerns has been that these projects are either driven by opportunistic, fluffy animal emotive fundraising nonsense, or driven by a cabal of secretive high net worth international landowners, who have acquired large tracts of Scotland to promote their own obscure view of what the Scottish natural environment should look like and seemingly to hell with local communities of interest and geography.

The principal that SACS stands by is that local people should have the last say - an absolute veto - on any reintroductions.

As an end game, this isn’t about national consultations on the principle of lynx reintroduction and how persons who will not be impacted feel about it – this is about local people, especially those trying to make a living on the land, having a say in matters directly affecting them. And that's what this government should bloody well stand for.

Other information

Our friends at the British Deer Society did a superb paper on lynx reintroduction, which is absolutely worth a read:

https://www.bds.org.uk/index.php/component/content/article/13-current-projects/159-the-potential-for-reintroduction-of-eurasian-lynx-to-great-britain

And the Scottish Farmer has some outstandingly robust commentary from the NFUS:

https://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/news/18655446.farmers-slam-loch-lomond-lynx-release-sham/

Next steps

Last time there was next to no genuine and effective local engagement from the Kielder lynx reintroduction licence applicants. At that time they also threatened to launch a Scottish project as well. This time we seem to have a consultation project (from what we have read so far it sounds like a hopeful 'public persuasion project' funded by a wealthy elite), but as yet no specific licence application. In any case, it is vital anyone with an interest in this matter has their voice heard, especially local persons in the areas most likely to be affected.

As we know more we will share with you.