KING Charles has been told to “walk the talk” by making radical environ-mental improvements to the Balmoral estate.

Renewed calls have been made for Balmoral and other royal lands to be brought in line with more progressive estates now that Charles has been made King, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

The royal family has previously come under fire for using Balmoral mainly for deer and grouse stalking.

A petition of more than 100,000 people ahead of the global climate summit, COP26, in Glasgow last year called on the royal family to commit to rewilding their estates.

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Broadcaster and conservationist Chris Packham (below) was among the protesters who marched on Buckingham Palace to deliver the petition.

The National: Undated BBC Handout Photo from Springwatch 2022. Pictured: Chris Packham. PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Springwatch. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/BBC/Jo Charlesworth. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Springwatch.

Now that the official period of mourning is over for the late Queen, King Charles has been asked to follow up on statements he made during COP26 when he spoke out against monocultures that lack biodiversity.

“Under the new reign of King Charles, the royal family should take the opportunity to also move away from grouse shooting and bring Balmoral in line with other more progressive estates,” said Max Wiszniewski, campaigns manager for Revive, the coalition for grouse moor reform.

“Moving away from managing land for a single species that will eventually be shot for entertainment will bring huge benefits not only to animal welfare but also the environment, the economy and the wider community.

“The reality in Scotland is that far too much of the country’s moorland is managed monoculture for grouse shooting. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Former Greenpeace director Jeremy Leggett, who is rewilding Bunloit Estate in the Highlands, said the King now had the chance to prove his environmental credentials.

“King Charles has a wonderful opportunity to walk his completely commendable talk with a comprehensive programme of nature recovery and regenerative agriculture on the Balmoral estate,” he said. “Reading the Scottish Government’s target proposals in their biodiversity strategy consultation paper, nothing less could be expected of him.”

Steve Micklewright, convenor of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance and chief executive of rewilding charity Trees for Life, said there was growing hope the royal family would consider rewilding Balmoral and other estates, as the new King had a long-standing track record of “passionate campaigning” against climate change.

“The royal family are uniquely placed to show leadership on rewilding,” he said. “If they were to do so, it would represent a powerful injection of hope that could have far-reaching positive impacts – economically, socially and environmentally.”

Micklewright said there were “huge opportunities” for nature recovery and tackling climate breakdown at Balmoral, the largest estate owned by the royal family at more than 20,000 hectares.

Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of nature until it can take care of itself again and is about reinstating vital natural processes and native species, when appropriate.

“This offers a major opportunity, halting and even reversing collapses in biodiversity – something desperately needed in Scotland, which is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries,” said Micklewright.

Balmoral estate includes habitats of ancient Caledonian pinewoods, rivers and burns, as well as moorland.

Improvements, Micklewright said, could include action to help protect, restore and expand ancient Caledonian pinewoods, which are a globally unique and culturally important habitat but are at serious risk of being lost and are often in a poor state of health across Scotland.

“These surviving fragments of the Caledonian forest form a habitat found nowhere else in the world – they are Scotland’s equivalent of a rainforest and are home to declining wildlife such as red squirrels, capercaillie and crossbills,” he said.

“Rewilding at Balmoral could also include action to expand riverside woodlands. While the restoration of montane scrub – Scotland’s almost-vanished mountaintop forests – could provide habitats for species such as golden eagles, mountain hares and ring ouzels.”

The estate’s moorlands, currently used for grouse shooting, could become a “pioneering” example of how to rewild upland estates through the reduction of intensive management and restoration of damaged peat bogs, according to Micklewright.

“This would allow these moorlands to support a richer diversity of species, from vegetation to wildlife, while locking up more carbon rather than emitting it – all while still allowing for recreational activities and creating new, diversified economic opportunities,” he said.

Many big estates in the Cairngorms already rewilding include Mar Lodge, a near neighbour of Balmoral.

“It’s likely that more estates and landowners right across Scotland and the rest of Britain would follow if the royals take a lead,” Micklewright said.

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ROYAL leadership could be “transformative” as the positive impacts would “inspire and encourage” other landowners and managers to follow in the royal family’s footsteps.

Micklewright said royal rewilding would also be “extremely” popular as more than 80% of people in the UK are in favour of rewilding.

“With rewilding offering a powerful solution for tackling the nature and climate emergencies, while delivering a cascade of benefits for people, there are hopes growing that the royal family will consider rewilding Balmoral and other estates,” he said.

As well as providing “powerful” protection against climate breakdown, Micklewright said rewilding had been shown to benefit health and “turbo-charge” nature based employment and economic opportunities.

The royal household was approached for comment.