Mountaineers back call for upland strategy

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Mountaineers have welcomed a report which could lead to the development of a strategic vision for Scotland’s uplands.

The Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report ‘Scoping a strategic vision for the uplands’ explores the potential of developing an overarching upland strategy, which would involve a wide range of interest groups and organisations.

Following an extensive consultation, it includes a number of broad recommendations that could inform the development of a strategic vision if Scottish ministers decide to go ahead with it.

Mountaineering Scotland, which has previously called for such a strategy, has endorsed the SNH report, urging ministers to embrace its recommendations.

David Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “Scotland’s uplands are of international significance, and a source of public good, providing employment, income, inspiration and pleasure, with resultant economic, social, health, wellbeing and other benefits. This report demonstrates the extent of support from a wide range of sectors for the development of a coherent upland strategy.”

“Our main interest is in the mountains and wild land. These open landscapes are under ever-increasing pressure and we believe these must be managed through the development of an agreed and overarching policy.”

“Clearly that will require leadership. We urge Scottish Ministers to seize the initiative and respond to the report and its recommendations by appointing an organisation, or perhaps an individual, that would be seen by all sectors as independent and neutral, to lead the process.”

Mr Gibson said the eventual strategy would have to balance a wide range of benefits different sectors want from the uplands, including forestry, crofting, carbon capture, renewable energy, biodiversity – as well as recreational interests such as hill walking, climbing and snow sports. Other identified recreational interests identified in the report included deer stalking, grouse shooting and wildlife watching.