The Scottish wilderness has suffered over many centuries from insensitive land management, including managing the land for hunting, farming, forestry and simple neglect. We all need to help to reverse the damage that has been sustained by creating a network of healthy ecosystems which link up and retain communities of native species across Scotland. This can only be achieved through:
- Restoring and enhancing degraded habitats
- Protecting remaining wildlife-rich landscapes
- Re-introducing the missing (extinct) species
- Inspiring and engaging people in wildlife and conservation
Highland Titles is already successful in three of these objectives at its two nature reserves and in the communities in and around Glencoe and Ballachulish.
In the current economic climate we cannot rely on government to provide financial support for landscape-scale action for wildlife. Indeed waiting for government to take control was never a good idea. Government cannot afford to offend the large landowners, many of whom are a part of the problem. Maintaining a large percentage of the Highlands of Scotland as shooting estates has served ecology ill. Managing the land for deer and grouse is not conducive to a healthy ecosystem as artificial numbers can only be maintained at the expense of the environment and with the culling of “vermin”. Government agencies such as SNH and charities that rely overmuch on government cash, such as the National Trust for Scotland, are unable or unwilling to oppose the status quo and Scotland suffers as a result. The phrase “Bought and sold for English gold” is as true today as it was when Burns penned the words three hundred years ago.
Scotland’s communities, with support from local businesses, must learn the real economic and social value of the environment
The key threats to ecosystem health are particularly:
- loss of valuable wildlife habitats to development
- invasive non-native species
- absence of large herbivores such as moose (Alces alces), aurochs (Bos primigenius), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and tarpan (Equus ferus ferus)
- over-grazing by sheep and deer –
- – caused by the absence of top predators
- highly fragmented habitats with unsustainable populations
- poor land management practices
Herbivores play a vital role in maintaining a rich ecosystem. Humans have shifted the balance to the point where some herbivores have been lost and we have excessive populations of others. Thus has a profound effect on the ecology.
How can Highland Titles help?
Business has a vital role to play in achieving this vision. I created Highland Titles to raise funds and create community at a local and international level to make it happen. We are helping by:
- Championing conservation
- Establishing a network of community Nature Reserves across Scotland
- Helping other organisations who want to manage land for wildlife
- Acting directly to conserve wildlife and wild places
- Funding the reintroduction of missing species
- Supporting the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy
On our nature reserves we are:
- Managing our land for present and future generations
- Safeguarding and enhance the native habitats and species of Scotland
Through education and communications we are:
- Promoting the gathering and sharing of information on wildlife habitats and species
- Encouraging people to see, learn about and enjoy wildlife
- Creating opportunities for greater involvement in wildlife conservation
You can find out what practical steps Highland Titles are taking to realise this vision in our second five year plan