The momentum for statutory protection of Scotland’s wild land is continuing to build. A petition lodged two years ago by the John Muir Trust calling for the protection of wild land will be put under the Holyrood spotlight when government agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), gives evidence to the Public Petitions Committee.
Following a discussion on the petition at the February meeting of the committee, MSPs will now ask SNH chiefs to explain what progress they have made on mapping Scotland’s wild land – a process which began over two years ago. Ian Jardine, SNH Chief Executive and Andrew Thin, SNH Chair, will appear before the Committee.
The John Muir Trust believes that the work is a crucial first step towards the protection of Scotland’s wild land, which is disappearing at an accelerating rate.
John Hutchison, Chairman of the John Muir Trust said: “SNH statistics show that, in 2002, 41 per cent of Scotland was unaffected visually by built development. By 2009, this had reduced to 28 per cent and no updated figure is available. The question is, how much more of our best natural landscape has disappeared over the past four years?
“Right now, 207 turbines are planned for six sites on core wild land in the Highlands, on top of those which have already been built, with another 139 turbines in the pipeline on Shetland and Lewis. We are asking the Public Petitions Committee to use its powers to persuade the Scottish Government that this destruction of wild land should be halted now, and action taken immediately to strengthen protection for wild land. Along with many others we are looking for concrete action and leadership from our Government”
Helen McDade, Head of Policy said: “Tomorrow’s evidence session is timely – Sunday 21 April marks 175 years since the birth of John Muir, an early advocate of preservation of wilderness.
“With only a third of Scotland’s wildest landscapes currently having statutory protection, there is a stark contrast with Muir’s legacy today in his adopted home in California, where an area three times the size of Scotland is protected, and the current situation in the land of his birth.”
“It would be fitting if the Scottish Government took the opportunity presented by the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 to introduce a Wild Land Designation, and safeguard the wild land for which Scotland is famous throughout the world.”