Conservation charity the John Muir Trust is calling on voters to ask their local candidates to stand up for wild land in upcoming elections.
Polling is due to take place on 5 May for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies, and for local authorities in some parts of the UK.
Stuart Brooks, the Trust's chief executive says;
'There is currently inadequate protection for landscapes in the UK's most important wild land areas, and they are being lost and degraded at an alarming rate. It is vital that we take action now to protect our best areas of wild land from inappropriate development.'
'That is why we are asking any one who cares about the UK's wild land to tell their candidates about the value of wild land and to ask them to pledge to help give it the protection it so urgently needs.'
Wild land, defined as large areas of high scenic and wildlife value, with minimal evidence of modern human development, provides essential services like clean air and fresh water, and is a source of recreation and refuge for thousands. It is also home to some of the UK's most iconic wildlife and spectacular scenery and provides the mainstay to the tourist industry in many rural areas.
According to the JMT less than half of Scotland's best wild land is covered by a national landscape designation, and wild land in the rest of the UK is also under threat from development. Figures recently published by Scottish Natural Heritage show a dramatic decline in the amount of land in Scotland “without visual influence of built development”, a key measure of environmental health. The total has fallen from 41 per cent of the country in 2002 to 28 per cent in 2009; it is reasonable to assume this trend continues. For wild land campaigners time is clearly running out.
The John Muir Trust's Wild Land Campaign calls for a new wild land designation in Scotland, and for the extension of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to provide better protection for wild land.
To support the Trust's campaign by writing to election candidates visit JMT website.