Reports in some media this morning (April 8th) regarding SGA Chairman Alex Hogg advocating ‘closing Scotland’s mountains to walkers’ have been presented in such a way as to pitch countryside stakeholders against each other rather than examine the very reasonable ecological concerns the original remarks touched upon.
Within the proper context of a general debate on wild land in Scotland, in which access was amongst a number of topics, Mr. Hogg simply asked a question of whether it may be a possible solution on some mountains, for a short period, to close selected areas where wildlife was struggling to co-exist?
The clear interest for wildlife, which was being expressed, has been lost in the concern to portray a game management versus walkers row which, in reality, is not the issue.
The SGA would happily speak to other countryside groups to come to the right decisions on what is best for countryside users and wildlife and, indeed, the SGA played an active role, with other stakeholders, in establishing the access code in the beginning.
Responsible access is something the SGA supports. However, if there was a clear ecological reason to suggest that some restricted access for a short period, on a particular area, would benefit wildlife suffering problems because of that increased access, then surely this would be in the interest of all to look at this.
There has been research undertaken, for example, which shows the negative correlation between access and the breeding success of endangered Capercaillie in a core territory.
The SGA feel that this legitimate concern has been missed by some reports and wishes to refer people to the original blog and the context within which it was written.