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Rewilding Scotland: Future Toursim Attraction?

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 8 March 2018 | Views [38]

Paul Lister, heir to the MFI fortune, is spearheading a campaign to rewild parts of Great Britain. He hopes to increase footfall in the Scottish Highlands area, with nature tourism as the biggest attraction. If his plans were to go ahead, he would introduce species not seen in the country in over 1000 years. Including wolves, lynxes and even brown bears.

This sounds a bit like a one mane crusade. However, there are other organizations pursuing their own rewilding efforts, including the Lynx UK trust. Their plan is to reintroduce the lynx to the British Isles, which they claim would be a huge benefit to humans. The Eurasian lynx was last seen in Britain around the year 700 and became extinct due to the habitat destruction and persecution.

It all sounds quite idyllic, seeing beautiful predators in the UK countryside. However, there is research to substantiate claims that reintroducing these species, could overhaul the eco system. The primary reason is due to the growing deer population in Britain, particularly Scotland. While these majestic creatures are nice to look at, they over graze – eating bushes and preventing tree growth.

The main argument for introducing predators, would be to restore the natural food chain, culling the number of deer. This would allow the forest to regenerate and recover from the mass deforestation that happened during the industrial revolution.

This has previously shown to be been effective, particularly in the Yellowstone National Park in the USA. In 1995, 8 grey wolves were released into the park in an effort to control the areas elk population, which had destroyed the range. Now, 20 years later, the parks aspen levels are on the increase and the eco system is substantially better. Scientists reveal, they are exactly where they expected to be 20 years after the introduction.

The big risk with rewilding, is the predators going beyond their planned location and damaging farmers livelihood, by preying on livestock. In a lot of countries, such as Sweden, the government will provide livestock compensation, for damages by wolves. This would need to be a factor in the government’s decision whether to approve or deny the permission. The Lynx UK Trust was especially met by backlash from farmers, with the local community heavily opposing the proposal.

Another big reason to rewild the district, the reason Paul Lister is going after, is to drive British tourism through nature. He claims by attracting tourists to the area, it will create jobs and increase the countries revenue. Lister thinks the wolves can be a national animal of Scotland, in the same way that people associate tigers with India.

There is definitely method to Lister’s madness. Unless visiting the highlands for walking or golf, people don’t tend to venture north of Aberdeen. The potential growth it could cause for the area would be astronomical.

So, will we ever get to see Britain’s rewilding project come to fruition? The jury’s out on that one. The opposition is currently strong among communities and politicians alike. But with the determination of people like Paul Lister, it might be sooner than we think.

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