If you’re thinking about growing trees in Scotland, that is any tree species except Sitka spruce, you will have to think about deer – Sitka spruce is largely deer proof. Whether you want to grow a diverse conifer timber crop, establish trees for agroforestry or regenerate a native woodland, you will need a plan for protecting your trees against deer browsing. Deer fencing, tree guards and/or deer control, all come with a hefty price tag and have environmental costs, much of which is picked up by the taxpayer. The Forest Policy Group believes there is a better, fairer way to deal with the issue and that is by licensing deer shooting and greatly reducing deer numbers.
Deer densities across Scotland are at an all-time high, with impacts that include ecosystem degradation, increased GHG emissions and widespread damage to planted and regenerating trees, to the point where ancient woodlands are dying on their feet.
The Forest Policy Group has researched, developed and published a number of topic papers, case studies and consultation responses on deer and has called for changes to the way deer are managed in Scotland. A much-reduced population of deer would contribute to
- Creating viable small scale forest-related business opportunities for local communities.
- Providing more forests and woodlands for people to enjoy.
- Increasing the range of timber from species other than Sitka spruce.
- Reducing the amounts of GHG emitted by damaged peatlands, this due to the effects of deer trampling.
- Reversing biodiversity loss and stimulating the development of habitats for wildlife.
- Using tree cover to reduce flood risk in our river systems.
You can read a short summary of Forest Policy Group’s ideas for positive practical changes to deer management in Deer Management in Scotland: Six Key Attributes of a Better System: http://www.forestpolicygroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Deer-Management-Six-Key-Attributes.pdf
You can also find Forest Policy Group reports on deer and Unlocking the potential of Scotland’s uplands here: http://www.forestpolicygroup.org/topic-papers/.
In the lead up to a debate on deer management in the Scottish Parliament scheduled for 2nd May, we are issuing this short introduction to the issues and the case for reform. This follows a lengthy report by the …
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