Save Loch Lomond's Osprey and Otter
Wild Camping Review Urged to Save Loch Lomond Osprey and Otter from Capercaillie Fate
Luss Estates, owner of four of Loch Lomond's islands is urging authorities to look again at extending wild camping restrictions following the news that the loch's capercaillie population is no longer viable.
Despite intensive efforts by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, the RSPB and landowners, the capercaillie population of Loch Lomond has dwindled to a point where there are only a few birds left. Last week, SNH announced that they will now focus their efforts on protecting more stable capercaillie populations elsewhere in the country.
Now, Luss Estates Company, which owns Inchconnachan, Inchtavannach, Inchmoan and Inchlonaig, is calling for urgent action to be taken to protect other endangered species on the islands, including osprey and otters, as well as their ancient oak woodland.
Simon Miller, Chief Executive of Luss Estates, said:
"Luss Estates is dismayed to learn that Loch Lomond's capercaillie population has reached such critically low levels. As owner of the principal islands on which the capercaillie reside, Luss Estates has for many years worked closely with Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to protect and preserve these precious habitats, eliminate predation and, as far as legally possible, minimise human disturbance.
"This latter factor, particularly in relation to the increasing popularity of unrestricted wild camping on the islands, has, we believe, had a devastating impact. Last year, an opportunity to address this issue was missed, with the postponement of the National Park's Bye Law review.
"Whilst Luss Estates fully appreciates SNH's need for pragmatism, we are nevertheless disappointed that Loch Lomond's capercaillie are effectively being resigned to history before realistic efforts to minimise the human disturbance caused by wild camping is fully addressed. Given that there are reportedly fewer capercaillie in Scotland than there are Bengal tigers or snow leopards left in the world1, surely every effort must be made to protect even the smallest of populations.
"Tightening access to the islands undoubtedly has its challenges, but as a major tourism business ourselves, as well as landowner and employer, Luss Estates has indicated to the NPA our willingness to find a workable solution balancing the needs of the visitor with those of the endangered species which reside there. However, twelve months on we seem to be no further forward in addressing this issue.
"These islands are home to many endangered species, and are internationally recognised with numerous designations. Whilst a number of factors have led to the demise of Loch Lomond's capercaillie population, it is imperative that we continue to protect these precious, unique habitats and do not allow a similar fate to befall further species such as the osprey and otter, and preserve the ancient woodland of the islands. Luss Estates therefore urges Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to reconsider its Bye Law Review as a matter of urgency."
According to figures published online by the RSPB, the UK's capercaillie population is believed to be less than 2000. (http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/capercaillie/index.aspx) According. to figures published online by the World Wildlife Fund, endangered species include the Bengal tiger (fewer than 2500 worldwide); snow leopard (4080-6590 worldwide) and the giant panda (1600 in the wild worldwide).
One of Scotland's greatest estates, Luss Estates spans more than 40,000 acres and some eight centuries of continuous ownership by the family of Colquhoun of Luss. Luss Estates today is a diverse enterprise combining farming, forestry, tourism, property and renewable energy generation. Managed by Luss Estates Company, it seeks to protect, preserve and develop the estate so that it may continue to enrich and ensure the future viability not just of the land and its resources but of the villages, rural communities and people which are its core. Recent investment by Luss Estates includes the £3million transformation of the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, which opened in Luss last summer providing up to 50 jobs during the tourist season.
The islands have a number of relevant designations and recognitions including:
Scottish Natural Heritage - Ancient Woodland (ASNO 1860, ASNO 1750)
Scottish Natural Heritage – Site of Special Scientific Interest 808 (Upland Oak Woodland and Capercaillie Breeding)
Scottish Natural Heritage – Special Area of Conservation (Western Acidic Oak Woodland and Otters)
Scottish Natural Heritage – Special Protection Area (Capercailzie)
European Union – above Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area designations elevated under the Natura Directive 2000.
RSPB – recognition as Capercaillie Area
Within Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Within a National Scenic Area