Highlands & Islands

Gamekeepers say Scotland's moors need greater protection

Moorland Image copyright Thinkstock

Scotland needs a "unified national policy" to better protect its moorland landscapes, according to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA).

It said 75% of the world's remaining heather was found in the UK, with most of it covering large parts of Scotland.

SGA said heather moors attracted tourists, but warned of "huge areas" of this landscape being lost to farming and forestry.

The organisation has released a new report detailing the decline.

The 34-page document was written by independent ecologist Dr James Fenton, who previously worked for the National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

'Special landscapes'

Dr Fenton's report recommends that woodland creation should be targeted on areas where moorland has already been fragmented by forestry.

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said the importance of moor habitats should be reflected in the Land Use Strategy 2016-2021, for which the Scottish government has sought public views.

Mr Hogg said: "This report is not a 'no-trees' policy, but a 'where-trees' policy.

"It acknowledges competing demands on land use and makes sensible suggestions as to where moorland must be retained and where we can afford to lose bits without breaking the whole thing.

"We need to value these special landscapes again instead of paying lip service, and place them at the heart of our land-use strategy."

He said moorland habitats were important to wildlife such as curlews.

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