12.06.2015

Wild camping restrictions on Loch Lomond islands are critical to protect endangered species

"The key issue however is that the islands of Loch Lomond are not included in this proposal. These are environmentally delicate habitats of great national importance and are amongst the most heavily designated and protected in Scotland, supposedly home to capercaillie, ospreys and otters, as well as ancient oak woodland.

"Tragically, and in our view because of the presence of vast numbers of wild campers, many of whom behave irresponsibly, capercaillie have been declared locally extinct. However we continue to conserve the habitat in the hope that they will return to the islands one day.

"The exclusion of Loch Lomond's islands from this proposal is extraordinary as the islands on Lochs Chon, Ard, Earn, Achray and Lubnaig are included. As far as we are aware, neither the police nor the park ranger service have quick and easy access to these islands, whereas it is in place on Loch Lomond".

Simon Miller continued: "Whilst we fully appreciate the need for pragmatism, we are nevertheless disappointed that Loch Lomond's capercaillie are effectively being consigned 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 in the world, surely every effort must be made to protect even the smallest of populations.

"Tightening and managing access to the islands undoubtedly has its challenges, but as a major tourism business and significant local employer, we want to find a workable solution. We need to balance the needs of visitors, who understandably flock to Loch Lomond because it is a place of natural beauty, with those of the endangered species, which should inhabit the islands.

"We welcome the opportunity to participate in this consultation and have offered land on which to provide managed, informal campsites on some of the Loch Lomond islands."