Tag Archives: Wolves

Rewilding Scotland – A Film by George Tomlinson.

Posted on social media this morning, Trees for Life highlighted a film by George Tomlinson, a fellow MA student at Fulham University which features commentary by their very own Alan Watson-Featherstone,  a longstanding advocate for Rewilding, as well as interviews with a number of well respected conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists. Tomlinson balances this evidence against commentary from rarmers and representatives in the meat & dairy industry as well as the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

This excellent documentary provides an informative and very balanced portrayal of some of the key issues and actors involved in the Scottish rewilding movement and is well worth a watch!

Rewilding Scotland – George Tomlinson.

A DIFFERING PERSPECTIVE: Keith Skene.

A short video from Dr Keith Skene, PHD. An expert in evolutionary ecology and developmental biology,  Dr Skene takes a very unexpected position with rewilding and reintroduction projects. We have made contact with him and hope to have   a more in-depth interview with him shortly to explore his ideas in greater detail.

The author of four books and over thirty peer-reviewed journal articles, his newest offering is being debated at the US Congress Conference on Sustainability in Washington this week. Dr Skene works with a number of business schools and teaches at universities across Europe, including MENDELU in Brno. He is well known and respected for his collaborative works and as an expert speaker in his field.

Previously, 13 years at the prestigious College of Life Sciences in Dundee, where he carried out extensive field research in an impressive array of countries “from Kenya to the Carpathian mountains, from the Scottish highlands to southwest Australia and from Vietnam to Trinidad”,  he was appointed as Convenor of the Board of Environmental and Applied Biology in 2008. He then established the Biosphere Research Institute (www.biosri.org) in 2008, becoming its first director.

https://www.greenbelt.org.uk/media/talks/14555-keith-skene/

Rewilding the World – Monbiot’s Mission.

Author, journalist, political and environmental activist – George Monbiot wears many hats. A controversial figure, Monbiot has become the UK’s most vocal pioneer of the rewilding movement. His long standing column in The Guardian and his most recent book, Feral, are both well read and his eloquent and provocative style is well known for instigating debate and discussion .

Check out his Ted Talk on the subject of Rewilding and then let us know what you think:

Animal Conservation in Scotland.

Despite only being April, 2015 has already been an important year in Scottish Conservation. As the Knapdale beaver trials draw to a close and ministers begin deliberating the success of the programme, conservation group Lynx UK is also waiting for the outcome of their public consultation regarding the release of wild Lynx in the UK.

Scotland has a mixed history with wildlife re-introductions. Successes over the last 10 years include Red Kites, Northern Goshawk as well as Reindeer and based on early reports, Beaver are soon likely to be added to this list. Less successful, Scotland’s infamous Capercaillie population has decreased so rapidly that, despite significant investment in their protection, these iconic birds are facing extinction for the second time.

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Ideally, the concept of returning an animal to its native environment should be fairly simple, however the world is a very different place today than it was 500 years ago. The relationship between humans and wildlife is more distant than ever. As a result, the possibility of returning large mammals to the Scottish countryside is fraught with complications and controversy. To ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of human and animal,   Its imperative that the correct foundations are in place. This means, that not only do we need to ensure the science and environmental factors are appropriately considered but that a sustained, consistent and measurable education process is undertaken to alleviate public concerns and provide accurate and practical advice for those likely to be affected by this change to their surroundings.

Currently there are a number of actors for and against these projects, and it could be argued that both sides are more concerned with dismissing their counterparts without consideration rather than making serious attempts to understand or appreciate the quality information that is generated as a result of a debate born of differing perspectives.  This may well be a result of what has become commonly known as confirmation bias – or the tendency to dismiss any information that does not align with your preferred agenda – or it may simply be, the result of major communication challenges between the motivations of the diverse stakeholder base involved. Whatever the cause, the time has come for everyone to stop talking and start listening when it comes to rewilding.

While I generally support the concept of returning animals to their native lands, I can not condone the release of animals into an environment that is sociologically unprepared to accept them, for this is little more than animal abuse as a result of human intervention. We need to understand the full implications, opportunities and benefits that these projects present to ensure that any actions we take are in the best interests of animals and the local community and to do that, we need everyone’s input. Here I give you a platform to ask your questions, state your concerns, have your say – and then listen to the responses you get back, weigh it up and respond until you are satisfied. Ultimately, animals are design to adapt to changing conditions and the primary threat to their successful re-establishment comes primarily from people and human intervention. Many of these animals are extinct as a result of our meddling in the past, we have an obligation to learn from our mistakes, take our time and do this right – or maybe not at all? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Rewilding Interview: Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust.

This morning, I was privileged to undertake a skype interview, with Mr Peter Smith, Scientist, Conservationist  and CEO of the Wildwood Trust, a Kent based Charitable Organisation, which has been instrumental in many captive breeding and wildlife reintroduction projects including  the Konig Horse, Beaver and Wild Boar.

His passion for the subjects of rewilding and land reform is clearly evident and he raises some very interesting points which create a greater economic and political context into this complex subject. In order to ensure his perspective remains contextually intact,  I would like to share with you his perspective, as he sheds light on some of the challenges these projects face and providing deeper insight on the potential release of wild lynx in the UK.

Rewilding Interview: Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust (Audio)

As always, any thoughts, opinions and feedback are all greatly appreciated. Comment below or email: twilightexistence@gmail.com.

The Missing Lynx: The Who and the Why.

The Reintroduction of Lynx to Scotland is, to many, one of the most exciting and controversial possibilities in Scottish wildlife conservation. Without the “ferocious” reputation of Wolves or Bears, the enigmatic Lynx, despite being a skilled and effective hunter has done little over the years to draw attention to itself.

A shy, solitary creature the Lynx is described as perfectly suited to the habitats available in the UK.  A rare Resting Lynxbut attractive sight, it is somewhat surprising that the Lynx does not feature more heavily in the legends of old, shadowed even by the much loved and ever vilified Red Fox.

However, as with any effective predator, its presence does present a number of sociological and economic issues and the Lynx is no exception. Fortunately, the UK is not the first to contemplate such a project and there are many lessons can be learnt from the European re-introduction in terms of impact to communities and agriculture.

In order to understand the pro’s and con’s and weigh the risks against the benefits and opportunities, we first need to understand the actors involved. This is a contentious issue and there are many strong opinions fueled by history, knowledge, science, experience and ideology.

There are many websites discussing this topic, but many of them have a clearly defined position which is designed to help sway opinion.  This site aims to provide a balance of information from all parties, with the sole intention of providing an independent and unbiased information platform from which the reader can form their own opinion.  Any opinion pieces from WilderScotland will be marked as such, this is to allow us to present our thoughts and findings from collating this information.

In order to try and give a honest portrayal of each individual or group, we will begin with an introduction of each; giving an overview of who they represent, their objective and where possible a positioning statement or quote from them. Once this is complete, I will then attempt to identify key areas of common ground, confusion or conflict and align them with any scientific evidence, academic papers and official reporting to address these concerns. As species reintroduction is a developing area of conservation research, this site simply aims to collate and weigh up current opinion and media reporting against existing evidence and current events, thereby generating opportunities for proactive, open and effective discussion between all interested parties.

Scotland – a true wilderness?

Wild Scotland: Untamed, Feral and indescribably beautiful. These words immediately conjure images of majestic stags, silhouetted against craggy backdrops of heather-clad mountains; a sleepy land, alive with life, where the quiet stillness of the hills betrays losses long forgotten.An ancient land, steeped in natural heritage and history from which it has made its fame, where the legends of old mingle easily with the factual histories and the locals are happy to keep the magic alive through spellbinding tales of magic, war and bloodshed.

However pride is selective, and many argue that things that now represent Scotland, and indeed form part of the Scottish brand, are simply the result of agricultural industrialisation and have little links to the Scotland of old. Indeed, the pure waters of the rivers, integral to the salmon and whisky trade appear to be running low and many of the animals which roamed our hills in years gone by are missing, replaced by an abundance of deer, grouse pheasant and sheep, which in turn has had an impact on the countries once fabled forests and indigenous species.

However, as the industrial sector becomes ever more unpredictable, many are recognising a need to assess and protect the Scotland’s natural wealth and capitalise on the opportunities it presents in terms of tourism, biodiversity. environment and land management.  Recent years have shown a rise in the number of conservation projects committed to protecting Scotland’s endemic species and proposing a “rewilding” of its landscapes with species which long since extinct.  Some of these projects, such as the recent Beaver reintroduction at Knapdale have been hailed successful despite the challenges, while the results of others, such as Capercaillie conservation, have been questionable in terms  of cost and natural impact.

In March 2015, Lynx UK announced a public survey to assess public opinion of the reintroduction of Eurasian Lynx to the Scottish Highlands.  If approved this could pave the way for further large mammal re-introductions in the future such as wolves and bears, both of which have been absent from the UK wilds for well over 400 years. Due to the high level of controversy and sensationalism by the media in reporting these issues,  this blog aims to collate the science, evidence, information  and opinions from all stakeholders in order to present an unbiased platform that interested parties can use to evaluate the arguments for and against wildlife re-introductions in Scotland.