Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Tag

Sarah Hall’s THE WOLF BORDER   Leave a comment


This is a book I almost missed this year. I had an early review copy but it just sat in my TBR pile well after the book had been released. I don’t know why I kept passing it over but I am so glad I finally got around to picking it up. Sarah Hall is a superb writer and I am confused as to why this book has so far been overlooked for this year’s major literary prizes.

Rachel Caine is an expert on wolves. For the past ten years she has been working in Idaho studying wolf populations on the reservations. Keeping as far from home and her upbringing as she can manage. She is also distant from her colleagues, forging as little close relationships as possible. However she is drawn home by an ambitious plan to reintroduce the grey wolf to Britain. The plan is not without controversy, opposed by the local population.

The idea is driven by the Earl of Annerdale who has the political and financial capital to make the plan a reality. Rachel accepts the Earl’s offer to manage the project and returns home. Her mother has recently passed away and when Rachel finds herself pregnant she grasps the opportunity to not only restart her professional life but also her personal life. While she sets about smoothing over the locals concerns and arranging for the introduction of two wolves into a preserve that has been set aside she also sets about restoring her relationship with her estranged brother and preparing for the arrival of a new addition to her own new family.

Sarah Hall’s writing is absolutely captivating. Her descriptions of the wolves and their behaviour is cleverly set against and matched with Rachel’s experience of pregnancy and motherhood. Added to the backdrop of the story is Scotland’s quest for independence and the politics and conflict wrought by Britain’s class system and history of land ownership.

A deeply fascinating, evocative and personal story, this is one of the books of the year.

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ISBN: 9780571299553
ISBN-10: 0571299555
Classification: Fiction & related items » Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x 32mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 26-Mar-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom



Back into the wild: Is it time for wolf packs to roam the Highlands again?   Leave a comment

Source September 18, 2015

Scotland’s rugged mountains and ancient woodlands look like the perfect place to reintroduce predators like the wolf

To the untrained eye the rugged mountains and ancient woodlands of the Coigach and Assynt wilderness in the far northwest of Scotland look like the perfect place to reintroduce extinct predators like the lynx and wolf.

The possible reintroduction of the once native predators to Scotland has again caused controversy after warnings this week that lynx would endanger the future of sheep farming.

This comes at a tense point for many in the conservation movement amid calls for the “rewilding” of parts of Britain, with conservationists calling for the species, hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago, to be returned to the Highlands.

The local conservationists at The Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape project are more worried about restoring ancient woodlands and blanket bogs, though. They are focusing their attention on mountain hares, endangered bats, golden eagles, sea eagles and the local crofting community, which they aim to bring onboard as part of a groundbreaking 40-year vision for the vast 61,500 hectare wilderness.

There have been warnings lynx could harm sheep farming (AFP)

There have been warnings lynx could harm sheep farming (AFP)

It is one of the largest “landscape restoration” projects in Europe and key to its success, says development officer Richard Williams, will be a commitment to protecting and expanding rare habitats and species for a generation and finding job opportunities for the local community. Next month the project, launched in 2011, will discover if it will get up to £4m in additional funding, including £2.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The additional funding is crucial,” said Mr Williams, who is employed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. “It will allow us to plant native trees across 250 hectares and implement 30 other conservation, history and cultural projects, including a tourist trail to the summit of Suilven.”

He added: “Bringing new jobs from eco-tourism and culture to the area is central to what we want to do.”


Mr Williams was speaking in the shadow of Suilven, a vast mountain that rises almost vertically from a wild landscape of moorland, bogs and freshwater lochs. In the the September sunshine the scenery is astounding, as is the sense of isolation in an area with little mobile signal and few economic opportunities.

The inclusive approach of the project and the calculated decision not to describe the scheme as “rewilding”, is in contrast to other schemes in Scotland, including one at the Alladale estate in Sutherland where MFI heir Paul Lister bought a vast estate 10 years ago with the aim of releasing a pack of wolves.

Elsewhere other charities see the return of large carnivores as a way to control deer populations and see woodlands thrive again. Alan Watson Featherstone, executive director of the charity Trees for Life said: “Reintroduction of a top predator is crucial, and the Eurasian lynx is the most realistic candidate. It is part of our native fauna and represents no threat whatsoever to humans and little to sheep”.

UK’s invading species


Raccoon It is thought to be only a matter of time before raccoons bust out into the wild in the UK, to prey on birds’ eggs and amphibians, and to spread raccoon roundworm Getty/Sam Greenwood

Asian Hornet

Asian Hornet The Asian hornet’s danger stems from its diet of honey bees and other pollinators, at a time when these insects are already suffering from habitat loss and pesticides AFP/Getty/Jean-Pierre Muller

Pine Processionary Moth

Pine Processionary Moth The larvae of the Pine Processionary Moth feed on the needles of pine trees and some other conifer species. In large numbers they can severely defoliate trees, weakening them and making them more susceptible to attack by other pests or diseases Rex/Roger Tidman

African Sacred Ibis

African Sacred Ibis Due to its tendency to forage around rubbish dumps, the presence of the African Sacred Ibis could be detrimental to human health Getty/Stuart Franklin

Quagga Mussels

Quagga Mussels Quagga mussels are expected to arrive on British shores in the next few years in canoes, sailing dinghies or the ballast water of a ship Alamy/ZUMA Press, Inc

Red deer are found in abundance across the moorland of Coigach and Assynt, prompting a row this week over whether to cull the animals or fence off an area to protect new woodland. But other less common animals, from pine martens to sea eagles, are also thriving in the area. Just beyond the Living Landscape area, on an estate owned by the Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, two golden eagles are also reported to be nesting.

The Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape is a collaboration between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, five community run foundations or groups and eight private landowners. And the biggest chunk of funding will go to to tree planting and to support the work of a tree nursey, which is already producing 4,000 rowan, birch, oak, juniper and holly saplings a year to join uo fragmented woodlands, while to the north of the vast area another project is already excavating Clachtoll broch, an Iron Age settlement thought to occupied by a sophisticated pre-Roman maritime culture that stretched up to the Hebrides.

Red deer are found in abundance across Coigach (Mark Foxwell)

Red deer are found in abundance across Coigach (Mark Foxwell)

Nearby to that ancient site, at Culug Woods wildlife ranger Andy Summers was leading a “woodland classroom” of nine-years olds from the Lochinver primary school. “People talk about the lynx and wilderness,” said Mr Summers. “But these woods are home to endangered pipistrelle bats, pine martens and dozens of species of trees. This area is already wild. What we need is to learn how to translate that resource into new jobs and eco-tourism opportunities. We need to harness the wildness because at the end of the day we need young people to come and make their home here.”

Anna MacKay, chair of the trust that manages the Culag Woods and a supporter of the Living Landscape, agreed:  “It would be wonderful to know there are wolves or lynx out there roaming the hills, but that’s a debate for a long time in the future. There is trepidation about conservation still here. That’s why the approach of the Living Landscape is so important. People in the Highlands have faced clearances and the introduction sheep driving them off the land, and unless we get conservation right, that will be the next thing that makes us feel like we are losing the land.”


Posted 19 September, 2015 by Wolf is my Soul in News/Nyheter, Wildlife / Vilda djur, Wolves / Vargar

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By Wilder Scotland on July 8, 2015

Copyright Shelley Milne 2014.

Posted on social media this morning, Trees for Life highlighted a film by George Tomlinson, a fellow MA student at Fulham University which features commentary by their very own Alan Watson-Featherstone,  a longstanding advocate for Rewilding, as well as interviews with a number of well respected conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists. Tomlinson balances this evidence against commentary from farmers and representatives in the meat & dairy industry as well as the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

This excellent documentary provides an informative and very balanced portrayal of some of the key issues and actors involved in the Scottish rewilding movement and is well worth a watch!

Rewilding Scotland from George Tomlinson on Vimeo.


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