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Public backs wild land protection measures

Posted 4 October 2012
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Public backs wild land protection measures
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More measures to protect wild land in Scotland would be welcomed by the public, according to an opinion poll.

The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage carried out a survey of 210 national park residents and 1,006 members of the general Scottish public that revealed widespread support for additional protection.

There were also 656 people who were 'organisation members' (people belonging to bodies such as the John Muir Trust or the Scottish Mountaineering Council) taking part.

Of those polled, 83 per cent of residents and 93 per cent of organisation members said it was important for Scotland to have wild areas.

While 92 per cent of organisation members agreed wild areas are under threat, it was also notable that 60 per cent of the wider sample thought this as well.

Moreover, while 97 per cent of organisation members said action is needed to preserve wild land, it may be of greater significance that this opinion was also held by 86 per cent of the wider sample (which would have included people with less direct interest in conservation and outdoor activities) and 80 per cent of national park residents, with the latter including people who may have an economic interest in activities that reduce 'wildness'.

Definitions of wild land included the absence of man-made objects within sight, as well as physical objects including homes, ski and other recreational facilities and wind turbines.

The outcome of the survey suggests that while the views seem to be most strongly held by those who would head for the hills in their walking boots or climbing shoes, their views on the risks to (and need for protection of) the wilderness are still backed by the majority of the public.

Commenting on this, chief executive of the John Muir Trust Stuart Brooks said: "These figures should provide politicians from all political parties with the confidence to take immediate action and put protection measures in place.

"It shows that the John Muir Trust and other conservation charities are in tune with public opinion when we say that our wild land is more than just a resource to be exploited for commercial gain."ADNFCR-2803-ID-801463053-ADNFCR