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As the Managing director of Highland Titles, my opinions shape the direction of that company. The musings on this website are, however, my own. Just my own personal opinion. Some of them may be unpopular. Not politically correct. Well tough. This is my website and I will have my say. If you don’t like it, click away now, or feel free to comment. I believe in free speech.
I work for the reintroduction of the missing Scottish species, particularly the predators and large herbivores. Without these species nature cannot function as it should. Man believes that he can or should assume the role of nature with guns and traps and usually gets it wrong. Leave it to nature. Rewilding rocks. Wild boar, beaver, lynx, wolf, brown bear, elk. Bring them all back from their refuges in Europe. It may be too late for the extinct aurochs and tarpan, but the Dutch-based Tauros Programme is breeding a fair replacement for aurochs and there are several breeds of wild pony that could substitute for tarpan. Habitat enrichment would benefit us all and the highlands are large enough to welcome them all back if we only have the will to make it happen. I am helping all I can.
I do not approve of hunting for sport. I do not much care for sport fishing either. Even fishing for food is out of control. I think the world would be a better place and we would be healthier if we relied less on eating animals. And if people must eat meat, then animals should be reared humanely and killed as close to the field as possible by the most humane method possible. Religion has no place in an abbatoir.
I consider the fact that less than 500 people own half of Scotland is a bad thing. In Norway, a country seven times the size of Scotland, there are only 23 estates bigger than 10,000 hectares. In Scotland there are 144. If you get the chance to read John McEwen’s “Who owns Scotland?: A study in land ownership“, you will see what I mean. I do not believe that community ownership funded by taxpayers is the answer, as is clear from the experience of the Isle of Gigha off the western coast of Kintyre. Expending £4 million of public funds, Gigha residents were gifted their scenic island in 2002. It has not proved to be a success. The National Trust for Scotland occupies 76,000 Ha. It is not a model for land ownership either.
The Forestry Commission manages 500,000 hectares in Scotland. Their reliance on densely planted exotic conifers makes them unsuitable guardians of our land. These sterile wildlife-free deserts have damaged upland regions which could have been restored to productive native woodlands. Grant schemes could have persuaded landowners to recreate such woodlands. But they instead simply encouraged more sterile exotic conifer deserts.
In general, I do not approve of Government grants. They appear to be offered in order to create a career path for civil servants. Applying for grants is an industry, creating work for consultants (retired civil servants). Grants to grub up hedges. Grants to plant hedges. Grants to cut down Scottish trees. Grants to plant non-native trees. Extensive oak woods in my own Glen Spean were destroyed in the ’80s so they could be replaced with grant funded Sitka spruce. Grants could have been used to protect, restore and conserve these woods. A lost opportunity missed by the dead hand of the state. Our money given to millionaires to help them avoid tax by destroying a priceless ecosystem. A trickle creating a few local jobs. How many more jobs could have been created to restore, manage and harvest native woods?
Most grant money is wasted. Some does actual harm. Current planting grants require beneficiaries to expend the money first and then reclaim it. Only the rich can afford to do that and only the rich can afford to pay a consultant to complete the tortuous forms. And most grants do not encourage planting native trees, but exotic trees that have little value in a Scottish ecosystem. Grants for the rich. Grants to encourage habitat destruction. No, I do not approve. Highland Titles should be helping people get grants to help them do the right thing. Now that’s a thought.
Please do not imagine that I only disapprove of things. I approve of smiling, music, except opera, bats, family, walking in the rain (they don’t do dry days in Scotland), the Mountain Bothies Association and of course bellringing.
We get one chance at life. I might have wasted a few years here and there, but since I started Highland Titles I know that every day I am making a difference. Visit us at Duror if you want to see what we can achieve together.