George Lyon (Argyll and Bute) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what information has been collated on the current economic circumstances of the farmers who will be affected by the Knapdale Forest European Beaver re-introduction trial. (S1W-13628)
Mr Sam Galbraith: I understand that Scottish Natural Heritage has not collated information on the current economic circumstances of the farmers adjacent to the area at Knapdale they propose for a trial re-introduction of the European Beaver.
George Lyon (Argyll and Bute) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has undertaken any research into the success or otherwise of beaver re-introduction schemes in other European Union countries such as Austria, Germany or Switzerland and, if so, whether any of the research is relevant to the Knapdale environment. (S1W-13629)
Mr Sam Galbraith: The Scottish Executive has not carried out research into beaver re-introductions in other EU countries. I understand that Scottish Natural Heritage can provide details of all relevant research including work to consider specific aspects of the impact of beavers on their environment.
George Lyon (Argyll and Bute) (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive whether Scottish Natural Heritage will be able to provide financial compensation to farmers for damage to their income or land resulting from the reintroduction of beavers to the Knapdale Forest and, if so, what criteria will have to be met to trigger such payments. (S1W-13630)
Mr Sam Galbraith: The trial re-introduction of beavers proposed by Scottish Natural Heritage is planned for Forest Enterprise land, on part of Knapdale Forest in Mid Argyll. I understand that Scottish Natural Heritage believes that farmers are unlikely to be adversely affected by the trial. Scottish Natural Heritage intend, however, to offer financial compensation and positive management agreements where economic damage is proved.
Dr Winnie Ewing (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what its policy is on the re-introduction of wolves into the Highlands and Islands. (S1W-13665)
Mr Sam Galbraith: The Scottish Executive has no plans to re-introduce wolves into Scotland.
Dr Winnie Ewing (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what measures have been taken to secure the future of the otter, pine marten and wildcat populations in the Highlands and Islands. (S1W-13677)
Mr Sam Galbraith:
A Biodiversity Action Plan has been developed to conserve and enhance the otter throughout the UK. In Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage provides advice on measures to conserve otter populations. An updated version of SNH's "Otters and Development" booklet is in production and will be available soon, and consideration is being given to undertaking a fourth otter survey of Scotland.
The otter is also listed in Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, which requires the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). As a result, 41 sites have been proposed in Scotland as Special Areas of Conservation for otter. Most of these sites are located in the Highlands and Islands. This means that appropriate steps must be taken to avoid deterioration of the habitats or significant disturbance of the species.
I understand that SNH is promoting management practices for the conservation of pine martens. These include the expansion of native woodland, provision of advice on resolving issues involving pine martens occupying buildings, advice on the design of artificial breeding boxes and the promotion of non-lethal solutions to conflicts between pine martens and game-rearing interests.
I understand that SNH, in collaboration with other key stakeholders, is currently developing an action plan and strategy for conservation of the species in Scotland.
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