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Scots want to see wilder national parks says survey

By Neil MacPhail

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Regenerating woodland in Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms National Park.
Regenerating woodland in Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms National Park.

A call to make our national parks much wilder places has been backed by the vast majority of Scots surveyed.

Three quarters of Scots want to see wilder national parks, with areas devoted to rewilding, according to research carried out for the Scottish Rewilding Alliance.

In an opinion poll for the Alliance carried out by market research agency Survation, 74% of Scots agreed with the call to make national parks wilder, with just 6% of people opposed.

The polling supports recommendations by the Scottish Government’s nature agency NatureScot, which in February advised ministers to create wilder national parks.

This followed an extensive consultation as part of plans to designate a third national park in Scotland.

Scotland’s existing national parks are Cairngorms National Park, established in 2003 and extended in 2010 and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, established in 2002.

The move to a greater focus on rewilding to help tackle the overlapping nature and climate emergencies is urgently required, says the Alliance.

“We’re urging the Government to listen to its nature agency and the Scottish people, and make nature recovery a primary purpose of our national parks,” said Steve Micklewright, convenor of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance and chief executive of rewilding charity Trees for Life.

“This would ensure these important areas can make a greater contribution to Scotland becoming the world’s first rewilding nation – a place where nature and people can thrive – and in achieving the Government’s commitment to protect 30% of Scotland for nature by 2030.”

If the Government follows NatureScot’s advice, ministers would introduce legislation to make restoring nature and combating climate breakdown the overarching purpose of Scotland’s national parks.

Mr Micklewright added: “Our national parks have the potential to be at the forefront of restoring functioning, thriving ecosystems in Scotland, a country that is currently one of the most nature-depleted in the whole world.

“Wilder national parks would provide more opportunities for people to live and work in them, including through more sustainable livelihoods, while visitors would be able to enjoy seeing more of Scotland’s remarkable wildlife and habitats as species and landscapes begin to recover.”

The Scottish Rewilding Alliance is a collaboration of more than 20 organisations which share a mission to enable rewilding at a scale new to Scotland.

The poll involved1,033 people being asked for their views in by market research agency Survation on behalf of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance.

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