After pilot projects in Aberdeenshire, which NEMT had some involvement with, and the Borders, the Scottish Government held a public consultation on a revised Land Use Strategy for the period 2016-2021. The original "strategic Vision, Objectives and Principles for Sustainable Land Use" have been retained.
The Vision is:
The Objectives are:
Changes have occurred in the context however (e.g. land reform, community empowerment, scarce funds), and LUS2 proposes increased use of a natural capital agenda and an ecosystems approach, and of spatial mapping tools. In its response to the consultation NEMT:
Various organisations, including the Scottish Campaign for National Parks and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, continue to campaign for more national parks in Scotland. NEMT's position has been that it is not opposed to the creation of more national parks but that it would not support this until there has been an independent review of the functioning of the two existing ones. The main concern is that the legislation is not tight enough, thus allowing economic interests to trump environmental protection in too many instances. NEMT's Council considered the issue again in January and reaffirmed its historical position. The Council also thinks that the question of where additional parks would be is critically important. In reality, the current financial situation suggests that the Scottish Government is unlikely to create more parks in the near future. We would, of course, be interested in member's views.
The Directives, which aim to protect wildlife and habitats, have been under pressure from economic interests. The good news is that it looks likely that these will remain intact following support from within the EU and there is now counter pressure from some member states to focus on better implementation. This follows a major campaign for the retention of the Directives which was supported by numerous NGOs including NEMT.
Major planting of native tree species, including birch, willow, oak, rowan and Scots pine, has been taking place on the Killiehuntly estate just south of Kingussie. Open areas are being left to allow natural regeneration in the future. A montane scrub zone is to be created on higher areas with dwarf willow and birch. The project is being managed by Wildland Ltd, a conservation company founded by Anders Povlsen. Mr Povlsen, a Danish fashion billionaire, owns Glen Feshie, the Gaick and other Highland estates. He is Scotland's second largest land owner.
Joyce McMillan, the well known broadcaster and critic, has taken over the role of President of Scottish Environment LINK of which NEMT is a member. Joyce succeeds Ross Finnie former MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.
A group has been formed to oppose any plans to dual the A96 which would impact on Bennachie. NEMT has been in touch and said it will leave them to take the lead but can be counted as a supporter of their efforts. The campaign is keen for groups and individuals to sign up to support them at www.savebennachie.com
Scotways reports that this now stands at over £29,000, and thanks are due to all donors for their generosity. They understand from the National Trust for Scotland that the design work on the new bridge, intended to replace the still standing temporary one, is underway. Despite the current challenges of the further damage on the Mar Lodge estate, it is hoped the new bridge will be in position later this year.
George Allan, NEMT's Vice Chair, described the pleasure he experienced sighting a snowy owl on Glas Maol in the Autumn 2014/15 edition of Mountain Views. To his amazement, he struck lucky again when he saw a snowy owl on a superb sunny winter's day at the end of February on Ben Udlaidh and, later the same afternoon, on Beinn Bhreac-liath to the East (presumably the same bird!). The last recorded sighting in mainland Argyll of a snowy owl was in 1892.
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