The trust would like to lynx in Scotland within five years. Photo: Elchhaus CC-BY-SA-3.0

The trust would like to lynx in Scotland within five years. Photo: Elchhaus CC-BY-SA-3.0

A conservation charity wants to see the lynx reintroduced to the UK and, if this is successful, wolves should also be released into the wild, it said.

The John Muir Trust, named after the Scots-born advocate of national parks, said it supports the immediate reintroduction of beavers, after a limited five-year trial.

The charity released its policy on ‘rewilding’ parts of the country, which it supports.

The trust is urging the Scottish Government to welcome the return of the Eurasian beaver as a native species and allow further reintroductions across Scotland. The Scottish environment minister will later this year announce the government’s response to the five-year beaver trial at Knapdale.

Chief executive Stuart Brooks said: “We would like to see large parts of Britain set aside for what has become known as rewilding, which means repairing damaged ecosystems, restoring natural processes and reintroducing lost species, including the beaver to create a richer, wilder environment.”

The charity said it supports a trial introduction of the lynx into Scotland should begin within five years. If this is successful, the country should consider releasing wolves into remote areas. It admits, however, that the prospect of reintroducing bears is unlikely.

The JMT said it believes that such a visionary approach would benefit not just nature, but also people and communities, especially in remote areas. Rewilding pockets of towns and cities could also play a role in bringing nature into more of people’s lives, it added.

“The Trust has taken a rewilding approach to the management of its properties for 30 years, long before the term was coined,” Mr Brooks said. “Rewilding is about intervening to repair damage and restart natural processes, for example, by managing deer to allow native woodlands to regenerate; or by re-introducing missing species, such as beavers, that perform key functions in our ecosystems. That in turn will ultimately allow nature to take its own course and be more resilient in the face of climate change.

“It is not about excluding people, imposing unwanted policies on rural communities or damaging peoples’ livelihoods. We recognise that rewilding is not suitable everywhere, for example, in areas of high agricultural value.

“But for other areas it can provide the step-change we need to bring back the full diversity of our natural heritage. Much of our land is impoverished – for humans and wildlife – and we believe that returning nature in these areas to its former glory would benefit everyone.

“Our hills, rivers and seas should be teeming with wildlife that people will want to see and experience. By bringing visitors from all over the world, some of our most fragile communities in our most remote areas could start to thrive once again, as is happening in other parts of Europe where nature has been encouraged to flourish.”

The trust said it believes the Scottish Beaver trial should be followed up with further licensed introductions of the animals across Scotland and other parts of the UK. In time, and with public consultation and support, the Trust hopes to see credible proposals brought forward in the future for trial reintroductions of carnivores, starting with the lynx.

In 2010, controversial plans to reintroduce wolves and lynx to the Alladale estate in northern Scotland were withdrawn.

A trust owned by the family of one-time MFI furniture-chain heir Paul Lister wanted to fence off a large area near Ardgay on the Easter Ross-Sutherland boundary to house three wolves. Outdoor groups, including the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, objected because it would have conflicted with the country’s right-to-roam laws.

The John Muir Trust owns several mountain estates in Scotland, including most of the summit of Ben Nevis.

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