2014 is the centenary of the death of John Muir, a towering figure in the history of conservation but not well known in his country of birth. The John Muir Trust hopes the anniversary will help boost their wild land message.
Whatever the outcome of the independence referendum, 2014 will be a momentous year for Scotland. In this spirit the John Muir Trust is urging all political parties to set aside their many differences to unite behind the proposed wild land map of Scotland (see UKH news here), in honour, they say, of one of Scotland's 'greatest heroes'.
The pioneering environmentalist, writer, explorer and wilderness campaigner John Muir died on Christmas Eve 1914, leaving an enduring legacy of respect for nature, ecology and landscape.
Dunbar-born Muir is a household name in the US, thanks to his key role in establishing groundbreaking National Parks. In his adopted state of California, streets, schools, museums, health centres, parks, rivers valleys and mountains are named in his honour. But how many Scots have even heard of him?
John Hutchison, chair of the John Muir Trust said:
'Whatever our political allegiances, we can all unite this year in honour of one of the great Scots of all time, the founding father of the modern conservation movement.'
'In this centenary year of his death, the most fitting tribute of all would be for all of our political parties to support the pioneering wild land map of Scotland, which will be debated in Holyrood in the coming months.'
'Scotland’s wild land is not pristine wilderness, but it is famed worldwide for its rugged, scenic grandeur and is one of our greatest national assets.'
'The wild land map drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage will protect our magnificent landscapes for generations to come from large scale commercial exploitation.'
Hutchison hopes to reassure those concerned that the John Muir Trust wants wild land at the expense of thriving local communities.
'This map is not about preventing community-scale projects, nor would it stop the repopulation of cleared or abandoned rural settlements' he said.
'Far from being a threat to local economies, we believe the wild land map can give a great boost to the Highlands by graphically illustrating to the rest of the world the extent of our wild lands.'