Call to back Scots wildlife

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With the next common agricultural policy now moving towards finalisation, a coalition of nature conservation charities and farming and crofting groups yesterday revealed the contents of a letter to cabinet secretary, Richard Lochhead, asking him to secure the future of high nature value farming and crofting in Scotland.

The letter from RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) urged :Lochhead to ensure that high nature value farmers and crofters were properly rewarded for their environmental efforts in supporting the country’s most precious wildlife and landscapes.

Vicki Swales, RSPB Scotland’s head of land use policy, said the long-term future of many of Scotland’s farmers and crofters hung in the balance.

“Rising costs, falling prices and harsh climatic conditions in some of the most challenging parts of the country are putting the viability of some farms and crofts on a knife-edge,” she said. “This represents a crisis not only for the farming families and rural communities affected but for our most valued wildlife and landscapes.”

And Patrick Krause, chief executive of SCF, stressed the urgency of the situation: “Crofts and smaller-scale farms in areas known as the ‘vulnerable farming areas’ are collapsing.

“These same areas hold much of our most precious wildlife, our most valuable peatlands and our most fragile communities. These are not only important to Scottish culture but are essential to the Scottish economy which depends upon the well-being of our iconic landscapes.”