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Trees, Mountaineering Scotland and the SGA

Friday 17th February 2017, 11:32am

Following a joint letter between the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Mountaineering Scotland to Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, and coverage of a press release relating to this, considerable controversy has arisen, with Mountaineering Scotland being criticised for a perceived hostility to tree planting and for allying with the SGA.

This morning Mountaineering Scotland was contacted by the BBC inviting us to clarify our position, which we did in a brief statement from David Gibson, Chief Executive Officer. A very much edited version of this was used on the BBC website, but the full text can be read below:

Mountaineering Scotland welcomes the passion shown by our members and others but regrets that our position has been substantially misunderstood and has caused concern to members.

Mountaineering Scotland believes that planting native tree species enhances the landscape – as evidenced through our responses to forestry consultations where we have pressed for replanting using native species.

The feedback has strengthened our resolve to take a stronger stance on conservation issues, including hill tracks and land management practices. This will complement our existing policy document ‘Respecting Scotland’s Mountains’ by bringing forward to the spring planned consultation with our members.

Our overriding vision is that Scotland’s mountains and wild lands should be treated as an irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic asset – respected and safeguarded for the benefit of all.

Our collaboration with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association was on a single issue and does not indicate agreement with them on any other policy or issue. In addition, we will seek to influence them as we would with any organisation whose views we disagree. We also have a number of long-standing relationships with environmental and conservation organisations with which we share a common purpose.

Our key desire from this letter is and was always limited to seeking a meeting with the minister to get agreement to formulate an overarching upland landscape policy. There has been significant media coverage of this issue and we hope the minister will respond by inviting us to a meeting.

David Gibson, CEO, Mountaineering Scotland

The original press release, with a link to the letter to Roseanna Cunningham, can be read here.

An earlier clarification can be found here.

Glen Derry woods in the Cairngorms, where natural regeneration is now taking place after decades of overgrazing.