Land reform and community involvement in Glen Affric area

The Scottish Government is committed to some sort of land reform, which is desparately needed. As someone who has lived and worked for many years in the Affric area, I see landowners and organisations such as Trees for Life cashing in on fashionable ideas about tree planting. The biodiversity of the area is severely threatened: many upland species are unable to survive among wall-to-wall trees, and the Forestry's policy of deer shooting in vast numbers outwith the correct season has brought this iconic animal to the brink of extinction in the area. Glen Affric is already a SSSI; we need the greater protection which a National Park would bring. Hopefully a NP would have a management board including local people who actually know and understand the ecology of the area, and some real experts. Present plans by landowners and Trees for Life mean excessive tree planting, which will actually INCREASE the carbon in the atmosphere (there are many scientific studies which have demonstrated this) and are of financial benefit only to the tree planters.

Why the contribution is important

It is time for Land Reform, and for the management if not the ownership of our area to be returned to the hands of the people who actually live here. We want to have a say in what is done and to use our expertise in weighing up ideas for changes in land use. Glen Affric is a popular tourist destination, and we would not want to deprive local people or tourists from further afield of the opportunity to enjoy our special landscape. But with the control which NP status would give us, we could direct tourist traffic away from the most heavily visited areas and into some of the neighbouring glens, preserving fragile areas and spreading the benefits of tourism around the whole region. We want to use our knowledge of the environment and the species it supports to put into practice ideas which will genuinely conserve and encourage wildlife. We see NP status as potentially providing jobs for local people in labour intensive conservation, compared with indiscriminate tree planting. Above all we want our land back.

by glasach on June 05, 2022 at 06:02PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.8
Based on: 5 votes


  • Posted by ganp1 June 05, 2022 at 19:37

    Glen Affric is home to several strong communities. It is important that no more land ownership passes into the hands of environmentally destructive companies which seek to greenwash their activities by claiming to be carrying out restorative actions in Glen Affric, sometimes funding these with government grants. Trees for Life is being encouraged to pursue its single issue agenda, assisted by huge grants, without undertaking any meaningful community consultation. F&L continues to carry out indiscriminate culling of deer against the wishes of many residents. It is vital that residents are involved in land management and a national park in Glen Affric would be a major step towards this goal.
  • Posted by camusfearna June 05, 2022 at 21:33

    Interesting views. However, designation as a national park is unlikely to give the local communities the control being sought. The current national parks work closely with landowners - public, private and third sector - and seek to influence land management activity but they are not exercising direct control over that management. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manage Scottish Ministers' land in both national parks and their activity is not overseen by the national park authorities. National park designation of Glen Affric wouldn't provide local communities with control over FLS management activity (tree planting, deer management etc) on Ministers' land. The regulation of forestry in Scotland, including in national parks, is the responsibility off Scottish Forestry, which is a Scottish Government agency. A national park authority doesn't regulate forestry in a national park. FLS manage deer in accordance with all of the relevant policies and guidance set down by Scottish Ministers and other relevant bodies. No doubt they would not agree that their deer management is 'indiscriminate'. Tree planting at scale is recommended by the Climate Change Committee and is one of the key elements of Scotland's Climate Change Plan to meet its statutory climate change targets. Grant-supported tree planting in Scotland approved by Scottish Forestry follows the UK Forestry Standard which ensures there is a balance between productive and broadleaf planting (usually around 60/40).
  • Posted by jimmcauley June 06, 2022 at 09:53

    The comment above is only valid if FLS continue to own the land concerned. A main thrust of the original post was Land Reform. Much awaited action by the government will hopefully give communities the opportunity to remove obstructive bodies like FLS from the equation. Community buyouts are not new and hopefully this system can be widened to allow communities to take control of land management and decide on the degree of tree planting and deer numbers.
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