I WONDER how much of Chris Packham’s sadness in driving through Glencoe (reported in The National on October 26) was focussed on the human victims of ethnocide over the last 300 years as the post-Culloden purge took effect.

Does he not realise that the land is still teeming with wildlife? Where once there were cattle, now there are deer, with trillions of ticks and midges thriving in undergrazed and neglected land. Does he feel vexed at all at the failure of the Red Deer Commission to control deer numbers? I wonder also if he has had a soil analysis carried out before his assessment that the land is barren. Bracken is an indicator of high fertility.

READ MORE: Why humans are the next target species for Scotland’s rewilders

Never mind the so-called “Fairy Pools”, there are magic fences all over Scotland where on one side the bulk of land is owned by the absentee landlord – dull brown, undrained, under rushes – and on the other, an occasional individual farmer in a smallholding, with grazing animals, where the land is bright green, productive and in good condition.

One might have expected a Scottish Government with control of land via the Scottish legal system to do something to reverse the historic wrongs of the Clearances, and to reclaim for the people the forfeited land which was seized by the UK Government in 1715 and 1745. Instead it appears that the Scottish Government is not only swallowing whole but financing the illusory benefit of “re-wilding” which will consolidate for the foreseeable future the status quo.The land remains with wealthy landowners now wearing the mask of the environment. It is still extreme capitalism. That of course is why the landowners are so keen on it.

See Rob Gibson’s book The Highland Clearances Trail comparing the cleared land with the land designated for “re-wilding”.

C Walker

CHRIS Packham is correct – the iconic Scottish landscape of heather moors and bare mountains is the end-product of centuries of over-cutting of trees, over-burning and clearance for either sheep farming (marginal at best) or shooting (the least productive use of land of all options). The sheep are already being removed largely but deer numbers remain criminally high (5-8 times higher than 100 years ago) and the burning of moorland for grouse shooting is an incredibly destructive practise for the “enjoyment” of a few rich shooters.

Time to regulate both properly and return our land to its original state.

Jon Musgrave
via thenational.scot

IT’S great to see the buffer zone bill progressing through the Scottish Parliament, as reported by Abbi Garton-Crosbie on February 27. While there is substantial cross-party and public support for this bill, the end of clinic harassment in Scotland is by no means guaranteed. I appreciate that all “views” must be considered, including the views of misogynists who believe it’s their right to harass women outside hospitals. Unfortunately, the “views” of wealthy American evangelicals and even hate groups are infiltrating Scottish democracy.

The initial public consultation on buffer zones showed that 56% of Scots were fully supportive. However, when 3367 responses, all originating from the same IP address outside of Scotland, were removed, support soared to a staggering 78%. This was a clear attempt to undermine the will of the Scottish public.

READ MORE: Committee will hear 'all views' on Scotland's buffer zones bill

Many of the organisers of anti-abortion protests are associated with the Texas-based organisation 40 Days for Life. They have made several threats against the Scottish Government if they can’t continue their lucrative business in Scotland. Protesters pay them for signage, training, and even books and merchandise. The so-called Alliance Defending Freedom, reported as an American “hate group” by Steph Brawn in The National on June 28, has spokespersons appearing in Scottish media as “concerned citizens.” They are currently running paid Twitter and online adverts claiming that anti-abortion activists arrested outside established buffer zones in England are being arrested for “thoughts". A complete distortion of reality intended to whip up reactions from right-wing American media outlets.

This is the same organisation that played a key role in the overturning of Roe v Wade in America.

As American bad actors find innovative ways to interfere with our democracy, we can only hope that the Scottish Parliament finds ways to mitigate the threat. This situation highlights how essential it is for Scottish citizens to engage with public consultations and ensure that our voices are heard.

Protection from religious extremists outside clinics has been a long time coming. The well-funded religious right has the time and resources to continuously wage these battles. However, I do believe that ultimately we, the citizens of Scotland, will prevail as long as we do not become complacent.

Gemma Clark