Protection could soon be increased for one of Scotland’s most iconic species. Over 350,000 hectares of northern and western Scotland have been identified for their potential as Special Protection Areas for the golden eagle under the EC Birds Directive.

Protection could soon be increased for one of Scotland’s most iconic species. Over 350,000 hectares of northern and western Scotland have been identified for their potential as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the golden eagle under the EC Birds Directive.

Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham announced the proposals today (December 1) which will be consulted on by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in the New Year.

Golden EagleShe said: “The golden eagle is the UK’s second largest bird of prey and is a species that is synonymous with many of Scotland’s wildest and most beautiful places. Scotland is an internationally important stronghold for this species, but their future is finely balanced due to their need for large, undisturbed spaces in which to live, and they remain highly vulnerable to change.

“While we have a duty to protect our biodiversity for future generations, this should not automatically mean that leisure and economic activity cannot take place in our countryside.

“Scotland’s wildlife attracts tourists from both home and abroad, eager to enjoy the scenery and catch a glimpse of species such as the eagle. We must find a balance between access, conservation and development to ensure that all sectors can benefit from and enjoy the countryside.”

Susan Davies, Scottish Natural Heritage’s north areas director, said: “We welcome this move by the Scottish Government to look at the possibility of more protected areas for Scotland’s golden eagles. As a top predator it is very much a barometer of the health of our natural environment. This bird is also a cultural icon and is often what people at home and abroad think of when they think of our country and our wildlife.

“The Scottish Government has asked SNH to carry out a full and open consultation on its behalf. We will shortly be sending out a copy of the consultation pack to land managers and other interested parties. Comments will be collated into a report and full copies of all submissions received will also be passed to Scottish Government. The government will then will be fully briefed on the issues and will decide whether to classify any of the suggested areas as SPAs.”

The proposed Special Protection Areas are:

  • Glen Affric (in the Central Highlands) to Strathconon (in Ross-shire),
  • the Cairngorms Massif,
  • Foinaven (at Durness),
  • Moidart & Ardgour (near Fort William),
  • Glen Etive (near Bridge of Orchy) to Glen Fyne (near Arrochar), and
  • Jura, Scarba and the Garvellachs (off the west coast)
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