THE idea of reintroducing wild predators such as the lynx or the wolf to Scotland will always be controversial, not least because the image of the big bad wolf runs pretty deep. It is also perfectly understandable that certain groups with an interest in the countryside have concerns about the idea.

But rewilding, as it is known, is a serious, worthy and inspiring idea whose potential benefits have been seen around the world. In Yellowstone National Park, for instance, the reintroduction of wolves has massively increased biodiversity in the area: fewer deer means more trees, but also a whole range of other species have started to thrive.

In an interview with The Herald, Ian Jardine, the outgoing chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, says he is sceptical about whether wolves, or other large predators, could ever be reintroduced to Scotland, and he is right to be concerned about the possible effect on people’s livelihoods.

Loading article content

However, concerns about the possible negative consequences of rewilding should not prevent the idea being investigated thoroughly or the launch of pilot schemes to see if it can work. Supporters of rewilding recognise that there need to be areas reserved for agriculture, but hundreds of years of farming and forestry mean that Scotland’s landscape is not as diverse as it could be. It is time to see if there is another way.