Countryside Management:
A Political Perspective

Edward Mountain MSP

Edward Mountain MSP

Edward Mountain was elected as a list MSP for the Highlands and Islands region in 2016 and is the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee. Prior to his election Edward was integrally involved with land management in Scotland and has rigorously championed key environmental and rural issues.

I was looking forward to attending the BASC Scotland Gamekeepers’ Day on 23 March before it was regrettably cancelled due to concerns surrounding coronavirus. I have always enjoyed meeting those who have such a passion for the countryside. We share much in common.

All my life I have been involved in managing the countryside, whether it be in Strathspey or the uplands of the Highlands. My love for the countryside was encouraged by my father and grandfather, both of whom passed on their passion.

Nowadays it appears that everyone has a view on how to manage the countryside. Often their views are based on the information provided by single issue pressure groups. These groups ignore the potential effects of their demands on other species that share the environment. 

Contradicting approach

It makes me smile when I hear demands for mountain hares to be protected at all costs and at the same time for deer to be killed at every opportunity. A mixed message and one hardly based on science.

It clearly demonstrates that many people believe the countryside should be managed in a way they consider appropriate even if that is detrimental to the fragile ecosystems the land supports.

What is clear is gamekeepers and land managers who have shaped our landscape need now to be heard and to be believed.

In most cases they are. However, occasionally the foolish actions of a few undermine all the good work being done. To that end I want to reiterate something I have said before: wildlife crime has no place in our society and we all should call it out. My message to the irresponsible few is simple – stop it.

Looking to the future, I would ask you all to rise to the challenge and defend what you know is right. Don’t let those who seek to promote single issues dominate the airways. You have a good story to tell – tell it.

Mountain hare in snow

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