Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Progress for sea eagles in Scotland

Photo: James Deane
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) today confirmed it will work up a three-year
scheme to help sea eagles throughout their breeding range in Scotland.
The initiative will encourage farmers, crofters and others to further bolster
Scotland’s biodiversity and tourism benefits.
Following advice from a 10-member sea eagle management group, comprising key
stakeholders from land management and nature conservation bodies, SNH will
continue to support existing management agreements covering sea eagl
conservation and management measures.
Later this spring a series of local workshops will be held to explain the
detail of the new scheme which will become operational in late spring or early
summer. A particularly novel part of this will be the establishment of an
advisory panel to guide SNH on key priorities for action and distribute a
portion of the scheme budget.
Panel members will be drawn from the key stakeholder groups who contributed to
the design of the new management scheme.
Andrew Thin, the SNH chairman, said: “The local sea eagle management schemes
are recognised success stories. I am delighted to see progress towards a
national scheme which will provide help and support for those managing the land
which is so important to these birds.
"This is the product of hard work and determination by agency, conservation and
land management bodies, and will build on the success of earlier schemes. We
have real opportunities to strengthen Scotland’s place in Europe as a prime
destination for enjoying special birds of prey.”
The scheme looks to develop tourism initiatives benefiting from the many
visitors eager to see the birds in some of Europe’s finest landscapes.
Jonnie Hall, head of rural policy for NFU Scotland, said: "The aims and
measures of the new scheme clearly reflect the interdependence of conservation
and farming interests. The continuity that the new scheme should provide will
ensure that the efforts of active farmers and crofters will continue to underpin
Scotland's thriving sea eagle population and so reap a range of other rural
development benefits.
"The vital role that farming and crofting play in this conservation success
story cannot be ignored, and so the new scheme rightly recognises and rewards
appropriate management. NFU Scotland looks forward to playing its part in
rolling out the new scheme.”
And Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, added: “We warmly welcome the
announcement of progress in developing a scheme for farmers and crofters hosting
sea eagles. We are really pleased to have been involved in the development of
workable measures that help support the conservation and management of these
magnificent birds.
"The prize for us all is to reap the much wider benefits from tourism as a
result of the harmonious coexistence between the birds and land management
Dr Ron Macdonald, head of policy and advice in SNH and chairman of the sea
eagle management group, noted: “I am extremely pleased that we are moving
towards a forward-looking, national scheme which will benefit the sea eagles and
assist land managers, crofters, and those who wish to see them do well in
Scotland. We look forward to holding local workshops to explain the detail in
the months ahead.”
And Donald MacDonald of the Scottish Crofting Federation commented: “I am
pleased that a new and updated management scheme will become available, and our
federation is looking forward to helping deliver the work locally because both
active crofters and sea eagles will benefit.”
Sea eagles are being reintroduced to Scotland under the Species Action
Framework launched by the Environment Minister in 2007. The framework sets out a
strategic approach to conservation and management of 32 species in Scotland
including the sea eagle. A range of partners is involved in developing this
work and further information can be found at

Sea eagle nests in Scotland are mostly built in trees, but crags and cliffs are
also used in successive years or alternated with other sites in the territory.
Two or occasionally three eggs are laid in March though sometimes as late as
April with chicks fledging in late July or August. Breeding usually occurs from
four or five years. Territory establishment may be earlier.
Studies have examined the effects of sea eagles on lambs. The Food and
Environment Research Agency (FERA) report published in 2010 looked at the causes
of lamb mortality in the North West Highlands. This study monitored the activity
of predators and the well-being and mortality of lambs in an area where a
significant number of lambs had been lost in earlier years. The report found
little evidence of sea eagles killing lambs.
The sea eagle management scheme was developed by a group comprising SNH
(chair); Scottish Government; Forestry Commission Scotland; British Association
for Shooting and Conservation; Scottish Crofting Federation; National Farmers
Union for Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Scottish Wildlife Trust; Scottish Rural
Professional Business Association; and Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association. The
scheme will cost £80,000 a year over three years. Most of the funding will go
towards management agreements with farmers and crofters, and support for local
initiatives to promote the tourism benefits of sea eagles.
Scottish Natural Heritage is the Government’s adviser on all aspects of
nature and landscape across Scotland. SNH’s role is to help everyone
understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For
further information on SNH, please visit our website at

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