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Wolves and bears back in Scotland?

William Wallace

Faculty Blog

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

International travel guide Lonely Planet recently named Scotland as one of the top three best countries in the world to visit after Brazil and Antarctica.

Never a country ‘to rest on its laurels,’ Scotland is running and planning a wide range of interesting and varied projects that will add to its attractiveness as an international destination. A good example is the recently announced plans by the Annandale Estate in Sutherland to reintroduce wolves and bears to its existing wilderness reserve.

The estate has an established record of reintroducing and protecting native species. You can read more about this here. The proposed project to reintroduce bears and wolves is, however, rather ambitious and fraught with risk. It is an example of a project that generates complex and interrelated risk but also real and sustainable opportunities. For example Scotland enjoys ‘right to roam’ legislation that entitles people to largely unrestricted responsible access to the countryside. The reintroduction of bears and wolves generates an obvious potential conflict, not least as some kind of enclosure would, presumably, be required. Another potential risk is that additional land may be required from adjacent estates and, given the potentially controversial nature of the project, land acquisition may be more complex and challenging than usual.

The project, of course, generates many opportunities. Wolves and bears, while extinct in Scotland are resident in national parks and nature reserves in Europe and North America. Their reintroduction in Scotland could generate a significant national and international interest and could enhance Scotland’s already great reputation as a place to visit. It could also be argued that the presence of large predators is both desirable and necessary to allow a sustainable and balanced ecosystem in any large national park/nature reserve.

It is interesting to consider the possible time, cost, quality and risk factors that could be specified for this project and/or the project success criteria that could apply!