Dr Davy McCracken discusses the issue of rewilding
Rural Policy Centre Associate Dr Davy McCracken was asked to appear on Newsnight Scotland for BBC Scotland last Thursday (June 13th 2013). Davy is a Reader in Agricultural Ecology with over 20 years experience of investigating the relationships between farming systems and farmland biodiversity.
It was his knowledge of European ecosystems, farming systems and biodiversity that was called on during the programme, which focused on the controversial issue of 'rewilding' in Scotland. Rewilding is the term given to the process of returning the land to a more natural state, which includes the re-introduction of indigenous plants and animal species which are no longer present (largely due to previous persecution by humans). Under EU law it is a requirement for each Member State to consider the possibility of re-introducing such indigenous species. This raises a number of interesting discussion points for Scotland.
Newsnight Scotland highlighted a number of potential re-introductions of large mammals that were once indigenous to Scotland such as the Lynx, Elk, Wolf and Brown Bear. Davy was asked to provide a balanced overview of the pros and cons of reintroducing lost species with particular focus on the large carnivores which possibly generate greater concern and debate in rural communities and businesses.
Davy agreed that there were strong ecological reasons for considering the re-introduction of such lost species to Scotland. But he also emphasised that before any such re-introductions take place, there needs to be detailed consideration of, and consultation on, what the likely impacts would be to existing native species and land use. In particular he emphasised that much of the farmland in Scotland’s mountains and islands is already considered to be of High Nature Value. Care therefore needs to be taken to ensure that any such re-introductions do not reduce the internationally recognised high nature conservation value associated with such farming systems.
To view the episode of Newsnight please see the related links below in 'More on Biodiversity and Ecosystems', for more information on rewilding, biodiversity issues, high nature value farming or other ecosystem services please see our related pages.