And while sensational stories about the reintroduction of lynx and wolves had often grabbed the headlines over the past year, NFU Scotland said that much of the measured and reasoned debate with stakeholders had taken place out of the limelight.
Vice-president Rob Livesey said that the union had been working behind the scenes and had made tangible progress on behalf of farmers and crofters who were forced to deal with fall-out which was often caused by increasing numbers of sea eagles, beavers, geese and ravens.
Livesey said: “The union is committed to helping farmers and crofters do the right thing for the environment but without being unfairly impacted by conservation decisions made by others.”
He said that this work was beginning to reap dividends, with many more officials, politicians and environmentalists coming to accept the necessity for responsible and sustainable management of wildlife.
“As an example, the past year has seen a long line of brazen and presumptuous claims about the imminent reintroduction of lynx to Scotland,” Livesey added.
“I can categorically reassure our members that the process for securing permission for the trial release of lynx is long and complex and any application would be subject to considerable analysis and debate”.
He also said the rise in the numbers of sea eagles on Scotland’s west coast had led to considerable losses being suffered by hill flocks – and this had been recognised by the authorities and a management plan which was being drawn up by SNH was set to be released early next year.
And Livesey said that while many farmers in the areas affected were unhappy that the burgeoning population stemming from illegally released
beavers had been given protection, this has been done in tandem with a recognition from the Scottish Government that there was also a necessity to managed them to prevent unacceptable damage to farmland.
He also said that a huge rise in reported cases of predation of new-born lambs and calves by ravens had also seen the union take action this year.