The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Gamekeepers push back on plan to rewild national park

There are widespread concerns that the Scottish government will prioritise ‘nature recovery’ over livelihoods in proposed new parks

The Scottish government has committed to introduce at least one new national park by 2026

Gamekeepers, landowners and local residents have pushed back at an attempt to prioritise rewilding and tree planting over livelihoods in Scotland’s new national parks.

Alongside the existing Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park, the Scottish government is currently looking at creating one or two new parks, with Galloway and the Scottish Borders both being promoted as contenders.

Scotland’s current parks, particularly the Cairngorms, have seen fierce debates between a rewilding-driven tendency and traditional land managers looking to preserve jobs and landscapes. (Read more on the implications of rewilding here.)

Scottish Land & Estates expressed its concern about focusing the new parks on ‘net zero’ and nature recovery — often seen as coded terms for tree planting and rewilding. 

Karen Ramoo, policy adviser at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We recognise how important it is for national parks to play an active role in nature recovery and the pursuit of net zero. However, it is imperative that national parks strike a balance between objectives for the climate and biodiversity crises while giving due consideration to social and economic objectives, ensuring that these living and working environments continue to support the fragile rural communities within them.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association wanted to know why the consultation was so difficult to engage with. A spokesperson said: “The question must be raised, if the Scottish government and NatureScot genuinely wish to encourage an inclusive and wide-reaching response, why is the consultation process so inhibiting? The lack of representation by those that earn their living from the land and ordinary citizens is apparent.”

Gamekeeper Ronnie Kippen slammed the plans, saying they were “absolutely nothing new”. He added: “Countryside families and employment are getting less say and will probably be ignored anyway, to keep the failed wildlife charities on board.”

A commitment to introduce at least one new national park to Scotland by 2026 is part of the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens.