from Sunday Herald, 26 May 2013
More than one in five of Scotland’s most precious animals, forests, flowers, firths, lochs, bogs and mountains are neglected or damaged, according to a major new assessment by the Scottish government’s wildlife agency.
Over 1,100 of the nation’s natural treasures have been officially rated as poor because successive governments have failed to protect them from landowners, farmers, the fishing industry, developers, polluters and other dangers.
The species under threat include harbour seals, puffins, natterjack toads, native pines, juniper trees, the alpine sow thistle and the small blue butterfly. Amongst the protected sites that have been spoiled are the Cuillins, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe, Loch Lomond, the Firth of Forth and the River Tweed.
Conservation groups condemn the damage to the “jewels in the crown” of Scotland’s environment as “totally unacceptable”. They are demanding urgent action from government ministers, who insist they are working hard to tackle the problems.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has released its latest assessment, revealing the state of 5,367 designated “natural features” contained in 1,872 legally protected areas across the country. Altogether, 21.9% of the species and habitats are classified as “in unfavourable condition” as at 31 March 2013.