For want of restrictions on wild camping, SNH consigns Loch Lomond’s capercaillie’s to extinction

The owner of four of Loch Lomond’s islands is urging authorities to look again at extending wild camping restrictions following the news that the loch’s capercaillie population is no longer viable.

Despite intensive efforts by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, the RSPB and landowners, the capercaillie population of Loch Lomond has dwindled to a point where there are only a few birds left.

Last week, SNH announced that they will now focus their efforts on protecting more stable capercaillie populations elsewhere in the country.

So that’s effectively the end of this culturally iconic bird in this part of the world.

Now, Luss Estates Company, which owns Inchconnachan, Inchtavannach, Inchmoan and Inchlonaig, is calling for urgent action to be taken to protect other endangered species on the islands, including osprey and otters, as well as their ancient oak woodlands.

Simon Miller, Chief Executive of Luss Estates, says: ‘Luss Estates is dismayed to learn that Loch Lomond’s capercaillie population has reached such critically low levels.

‘As owner of the principal islands on which the capercaillie reside, Luss Estates has for many years worked closely with Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to protect and preserve these precious habitats, eliminate predation and, as far as legally possible, minimise human disturbance.

‘This latter factor, particularly in relation to the increasing popularity of unrestricted wild camping on the islands, has, we believe, had a devastating impact.

‘Last year, an opportunity to address this issue was missed, with the postponement of the National Park’s Bye Law review.

‘Whilst Luss Estates fully appreciates SNH’s need for pragmatism, we are nevertheless disappointed that Loch Lomond’s capercaillie are effectively being resigned 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 left in the world, surely every effort must be made to protect even the smallest of populations.

‘Tightening access to the islands undoubtedly has its challenges, but as a major tourism business ourselves, as well as landowner and employer, Luss Estates has indicated to the NPA our willingness to find a workable solution balancing the needs of the visitor with those of the endangered species which reside there. However, twelve months on we seem to be no further forward in addressing this issue.

‘These islands are home to many endangered species, and are internationally recognised with numerous designations. Whilst a number of factors have led to the demise of Loch Lomond’s capercaillie population, it is imperative that we continue to protect these precious, unique habitats and do not allow a similar fate to befall further species such as the osprey and otter, and preserve the ancient woodland of the islands.

‘Luss Estates therefore urges Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to reconsider its Bye Law Review as a matter of urgency.’

Wild camping by urbanites with no real experience of camping has led to all sorts of devastation in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Trees have been hacked down for firewood, with littering and human waste common legacies.

If fishing licences can be imposed and policed on our rivers, there has to be an enforceable permit system for wild camping that would allow for basic regulations around environmental and wildlife protection to be made known and observed on peril of substantial penalty.

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16 Responses to For want of restrictions on wild camping, SNH consigns Loch Lomond’s capercaillie’s to extinction

  1. And there was me thinking that the reason for designating the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs area as Scotland’s first national park was rather more than fostering a playground for the population of the Glasgow region.
    Silly me, someone will be able to add to Scotland’s cultural heritage by penning a dirge to the demise of the Capercaillie in this area – the last line’s already been written – ‘drink and the devil had done for the rest’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

    • Surely education’s been the obvious route for a very long time, but wild camping ‘hotspots’ (and not just around Loch Lomond, for example the east shore of Loch Awe along the B840) have been grossly abused for as long as I can remember; drink seems to be a major factor, and has also resulted in drowning tragedies over the years.
      Freedom to roam is one thing, but freedom to camp is an obvious potential problem – just look at the policy in the French national parks, severely restricting camping and the lighting of fires, for the common good.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. Our education system is to train up workers and not thinkers, people have lost their conection to their land, in my opinion thats the problem. More laws will not solve the destruction of our countryside.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  3. oh this is oh so good!thi man wants to build a LARGE house on inchconnachan for leasing out to wealthy people,wants to put his own ranger on the island to keep PEOPLE off the island d
    oesnt seem to be worried about endangered species on here!! the only endangered species seems to be the poor bloody boaters typical tory landowning prat,gon yersel sir malky !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. I thought wild camping was illegal in much of the UK, however I could be mistaken. I love wild camping and whenever I camp I always take care to leave the place as i found it and it is a shame a few are spoiling it for the rest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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