Billionaires bankroll study to investigate the return of the wild lynx to Scotland
The super-rich Scandinavian ‘rewilding’ protagonists have for some time been pressing for the reintroduction of the lynx to the HIghlands after more than 500 years absent.
Such protagonists include Danish billionaire – and the UK’s biggest landowner – Anders Holch Povlsen as well as Lisbet Rausing (of the Swedish Tetra Pak dynasty) who owns the glamorous, ultra-modern Corrour Lodge by Fort William. These billionaires are now funding a £50,000 year-long study to access public opinion about the reintroduction of the predator, which was wiped out by hunting and habitat loss all those years ago.
The study is being conducted because evidence of public support is needed to persuade NatureScot to issue a license to allow for the release of the wild cats – and there is loud disapproval to the movement in the form of Scottish Farmers. As reported in the Times, the National Farmers Union Scotland says lynx are a threat to sheep and strongly opposed a previous proposal to allow them at a forest near Loch Lomond.
However, Scotland: The Big Picture, a charity which promotes rewilding, said NFU Scotland did not represent the views of all farmers. It hoped that the study would establish that the idea for reintroduction had sufficient support. Trees for Life and Vincent Wildlife Trust – alongside Scotland: The Big Picture – are the ones conducting the year long dialogue with landowners and residents before embarking on plans.
As reported in the Telegraph, Steve Micklewright, Chief Executive of Trees for Life, said: ‘Scotland has more woodland deer than any other European country, and their relentless browsing often prevents the expansion and healthy regeneration of our natural woodlands. By preying on roe deer, lynx would restore ecological processes that have been missing for centuries, and provide a free and efficient deer management service.’ The group believes the Scottish Highlands have enough roe deer, which have no other natural predators aside from human hunters, to support the introduction of 400 lynx.
The estates of Povlsen and Rausing cover about 300,000 acres according to the charities leading the plan. Mr Povlsen, 48, has a fortune estimated at £4.7 billion from his retail empire, Bestseller clothes. Povlsen has acquired circa 230,000 acres of Britain between his 13 estates, worth more than £120 million. His rewilding vision is to allow native woodland and species to regenerate and flourish across northern Scotland – and it’s the most ambitious privately funded environmental endeavour in the history of the highlands to date.
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