Rewilding Scotland: Scotland's landscape is complex, we should handle it with care - Katharine Hay

Once again, the topic of ‘rewilding’ has hit the headlines in its usual polarised fashion.

Rewilding Britain (RB) revealed this week that 842,000 acres of protected land in the UK – an area more than twice the size of Greater London – are used for driven red grouse shooting, a sport it believes contributes to the climate crisis.

Media reports on the findings cushion the figure with “various sources” arguing moorland fires on grouse moors can “damage” underlying peat soils and “suppress” the growth of trees.

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Rewilding Scotland: Moorland twice the size of Greater London devoted to raising...
A red grouse in the Lammermuir Hills, Scottish Borders (Picture: PHIL WILKINSON)

RB wants driven grouse shooting phased out in national parks and Mark Avery of Wild Justice wants “the rich man’s hobby” banned.

I am not here to give my opinion on “rewilding”, or grouse shooting for that matter - I’d need much more than a section of a page for that as it’s far from a yes or no question.

But what I will say is how much more careful we need to be when talking about these topics.

Nature is complex and so the conversations that we have about it should be too.

We need to be wary of sweeping statements and phrases like “various sources say” when it comes to considering opinions on the future of our land and wildlife.

It can be so hard to understand a topic when on social media opinions get carried away and shared by people who are far from experts on the issues they’re screaming about.

The rational voice is often lost in a stampede of “haters” joining a debate to gain satisfaction from attacking an idea or to feel empowered by “raising a point”.

It seems now people are so quick to form an opinion before taking the time to understand what it is they are really saying or agreeing with.

We need to try harder to change this approach, especially when it comes to talking about the future of the land and wildlife in this country.

We owe it to nature to be more patient and thorough in our discussions about its future.

RB’s catchphrase is Think Big. Act Wild. I couldn't disagree more.

We need to be more nuanced and bespoke in our understanding of the topic and handle the ongoing debate with utmost care.

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