‘Wet desert’ land

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How prescient of the picture editor to choose a “quintessential piece of Scottish landscape” on the very day that the First 
Minister announced measures which may improve “the transparency and accountability” of land ownership in Scotland (your report, 27 November).

The picture shows one mature tree, a tree stump and nothing else growing above knee height. The land clearly is suitable for more vegetation, but like much of Scotland it has been over-grazed and burnt in the name of sport and subsidised sheep for decades.

Frank Fraser Darling, the renowned ecologist, coined the phrase “wet desert” when describing parts of the Scottish landscape.

The test of these so-called radical moves by the present Scottish Government will be how well the natural vegetation of the land improves in the next few decades and whether the term “wet desert” will no longer apply.

If the government’s proposals lead to more land being used in the public interest and for the common good then their measures will have my support.

Benedict Bate

South Clerk Street

Edinburgh

I read with disappointment that the First Minister has announced she will scrap the business rate exemption for shoots in Scotland.

It is clear that she is targeting “rich landowners” who benefited from this exemption which was brought in by the Tories in 1994.

It is part of an ongoing agenda that the SNP has to keep the left-wing vote. I don’t feel terribly sorry for the “rich landowners”, as I’m sure the scrapping of this exemption will make very little difference to them.

However, it is the far more 
numerous small (commercial and family) shooting concerns and deer stalking estates who get my sympathy.

Many of these concerns run on a marginal basis on marginal land. They employ local people and they manage woodland, hedgerow and moorland habitats to encourage wildlife.

They police against poachers and vandals.

They control foxes, crows, rats, magpies and other vermin – the sorts of vermin that devastate wading birds, songbirds and ground-nesting birds.

The Scottish Government is supposed to protect Scotland, to make our country more attractive for us to live and work in, and others to visit or invest in.

Sadly, in the name of a misguided ideology, it seems Nicola Sturgeon is working to make Scotland a less attractive place.

Hugo Cannon

Glencairn Crescent

Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that land must be for the benefit of the many, and not the few.

Does that mean (ecstatically happily) no more wind farms?

Roderick Brodie

Duff Street

Dundee

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