The JMT welcomed plans for deer management. Photo: Bill Ebbesen CC-BY-2.0

The JMT welcomed plans for deer management. Photo: Bill Ebbesen [CC-2.0]

A conservation charity has welcomed moves by the Scottish Government to control deer numbers.

Holyrood’s land reform consultation announced this week calls for its advisory body Scottish Natural Heritage to be given powers to force landowners to implement deer management plans.

The John Muir Trust said the plan represents a chance to protect land from overgrazing. It said the new powers would underpin the current voluntary system, as a backstop to be used if the voluntary arrangements fail to deliver 2020 biodiversity targets.

It added the Scottish Government is also carrying out a separate review, which will be concluded in 2016, into whether the voluntary arrangements should be replaced by a new statutory system of deer management.

Mike Daniels, the trust’s head of land and science said: “We warmly welcome this proposal from the Scottish Government to take action to protect what remains of our native woodland.

“For the benefit of a tiny minority, much of our upland environment is bare, degraded and impoverished as a result of overgrazing by deer.

“Many sporting estates have not just allowed, but encouraged deer numbers to escalate to unsustainable levels, which are harmful both to our ecosystem and to the wellbeing of the deer themselves.

“This is a chance to halt and reverse two centuries of destruction.”

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