In this, the so-called Year of Natural Scotland, conservation charity the John Muir Trust is calling on the Scottish Government to take action to save Scotland's remaining wild land before it's 'too late'.
Two years ago the Trust submitted a petition with around 4000 signatures to the Scottish Parliament's Public Petition Committee, calling for a new environmental designation to protect Scotland's best wild land. After a substantial delay the Committee will be looking again at the petition tomorrow, Tuesday 19 February.
One of those who handed in the petition was the mountaineer, writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, who is also an ambassador for the John Muir Trust's Wild Land Campaign. He said:
'The Scottish Government could use the opportunity presented by the Year of Natural Scotland to make a powerful statement for wildness and all the benefits it brings by putting in place proper protection for Scotland's wild land.'
'I hope when they discuss the Trust's petition on Tuesday that the Committee will push for the Environment Minister and Scottish Natural Heritage to take action.'
Since the Trust's petition was delivered to Parliament, new evidence has emerged which shows strong public support in Scotland for better landscape conservation. According to a major survey last year (reported here on UKH), 86 per cent of the public surveyed believe further action is needed to preserve wild land in Scotland. Significantly for the Trust, the most widely supported action would be the introduction of a 'wild land' designation - something the JMT has been calling for .
The Trust's Head of Policy, Helen McDade, said:
'As well as being the Year of Natural Scotland, 2013 also marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of the great Scots-born conservationist John Muir, whose vision helped achieve legal protection for large tracts of American wilderness.'
'There is strong public sympathy across the political spectrum for similar action in Scotland today – and that should give confidence to our politicians of all parties to unite in support of legislation to protect our own precious wild land.'
'We're running out of time. Two years ago, when our petition was delivered to Parliament, Scottish Natural Heritage warned of the dangers of leaving it too late to take action. Since then, development pressure on our wild land has grown more intense. After a lengthy delay, we're pleased that the Petitions Committee is now discussing the petition again. We really need this discussion to move forward and lead to practical action before it's too late.'