Scotland's best wild landscapes 'at risk'

Loch Duntelchaig. Pic: Copyright of Iain Maclean
Image caption Half of Scotland's best wild land has no environmental protection at all, according to the John Muir Trust

Campaigners are calling on the Scottish government to do more to protect the country's areas of wild land.

A 3,500-signature petition is being given to MSPs, amid warnings that some of the best landscapes are at risk.

The John Muir Trust has said areas of wild land are under greater threat than ever before.

The Scottish government said a review of the situation was under way and that all organisations with an interest in conservation would be consulted.

The trust is particularly concerned about the potential impact of "badly sited, industrial scale wind farm development proposals".

It wants a new national environmental designation for wild land.

"Wild land" is classed as large areas with spectacular scenery, high wildlife value and very little evidence of human activity. It would typically include mountains, blanket bog, river margins and coastlines.

The trust has said that half of Scotland's best wild land has no environmental protection at all.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, said: "Our vision is that wild land is protected and wild places are valued by all sectors of society.

"This petition is the first step in making the case for a new designation to protect Scotland's wild land areas."

He added: "Wild land has a wide variety of benefits. It is home to some of our most iconic wildlife and provides us with things vital to our everyday lives like fresh water and clean air.

"92% of visitors to Scotland cite the fantastic scenery we have as the main reason for coming here."

'Sustenance of redemption'

The campaign is being supported by the writer and broadcaster, Cameron McNeish.

He said: "For over 40 years the wild places of Scotland have provided me, and countless others, with the sustenance of redemption.

"It's the wild hills and glens that I turn to when I need to flush from my mind the problems, anxieties and stresses of 21st Century living."

A Scottish government spokesman told BBC Scotland: "Scottish Natural Heritage does not advocate a specific wild land designation and is currently preparing a new assessment of wildness across Scotland.

"A review of natural heritage designations is ongoing and will consider how best to integrate our approach to managing nature, landscape and recreational designations.

"This will ensure they are fit for purpose and can best deliver our objectives."

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