Dear Sir,
 
It is slightly encouraging to note the dismissal by Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish environment minister, of reports that the Forestry Commission Scotland might be required to sell off its forests in line with its English counterpart, (your report, 25 October).
Many will concur with her affirmation that "we believe Scotland's national forests are a very precious asset" and her earlier "it is quite shocking to think that we only have a tiny remnant of our original native woodland left, due to historical exploitation" (your report, 11 May).

It is all the more puzzling, and unacceptable, therefore, that the Scottish Government has done nothing to prevent the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) from targeting native woodlands for housing developments in its local plan.

This latter is due to be adopted on 29 October, and includes provision for several hundred houses that will destroy areas of pinewoods, some listed as ancient woodland.

Scottish Government reporters advised against these housing allocations in woodlands, following a local plan inquiry (LPI) in 2009, but the CNPA largely ignored their recommendations. Now, despite receiving a letter signed by 16 environmental organisations urging Scottish ministers to intervene and recommending "broad acceptance of the findings" of the LPI, no action has been taken by government. Ms Cunningham may be shocked at the historic destruction of Scotland's native woodlands. Many will be shocked at her failure to prevent further such destruction in Scotland's premier national park.
 
Roy Turnbull
Vice-convener, BSCG

Original published letter in The Scotsman: http://news.scotsman.com/letters/Letter-Woodland-threats.6598247.jp

BSCG gave an interview to the BBC  for the Reporting Scotland news programme (see link for video) over the sudden Cairngorm Mountain Limited announcement about trial guided walks to the summit of Cairngorm. This was considered before the funicular got planning permission when it was considered impractical.

Passengers to go off the beaten track - Press and Journal

Mountain rail doors to open - Strathspey Herald

All change for the summit as Cairn Gorm passengers allowed to top - The Scotsman

Sunday Herrald article on An Camus Mor: Endangered bug highlights plight of national parks By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor, 20 Jun 2010.

an camas mr site 20100621 1111880826

© 2010 BSCG.  An Camas Mòr site. The green dwarf shrub in the forgeground is bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi  a constant in this heathland vegetation community that was  overlooked  in survey for the developer.

BSCG deplore  the  CNPA decision on Friday 11 June to give the go ahead to 1500 houses on Rothiemurchus estate within the Cairngorms National Scenic Area . We consider  this decision, that was for 400 more more houses even than   reccommended by the CNPA's own officials,  put the developer's interests  ahead  of the national interest of safeguarding Scotland's most precious countryside.

See articles in P & J and The Scotsman.

lowland heath at the an camas mr site 20100616 1330269574

Photo: Lowland heath  at the ACM site.  This is a threatened habitat for which the UK has a special responsibility and is one of the outstanding wildlife habitats habitats that would be destroyed if the ACM proposals are ever given detailed permission (photo BSCG).

weevil - magdalis duplicata 20100610 1413431904 

© 2010 BSCG, may be used for reporting purposes with copyright credited.

A rare weevil discovered by BSCG on the threatened An Camas Mòr site this month. Magdalis duplicata a beetle in the weevil family is associated with Caledonian pine. It is classed  as a Notable A.  The invertebrate survey for the developer includes no notable beetles. According to the National Biodiversity Network there are records from only four  10km squares in Scotland  with 3 of these in the Cairngorms area. The most recent Cairngorms area reports seem to be field observations from Mar lodge Estate in upper Deeside on 7 and 8 July in 2000.  In a 15 year study between 1979 and 1993 John Owen  recorded this beetle in 4 km squares in Abernethy Forest.

The springtail Entomobrya nivalis photographed on the threatened ACM site. According to the National Biodiversity Network there are no previous records for this springtail in Badenoch and Strathspey. The only previous record for the Cairngorms area in Tayside  dates back to 1901. No springtails were recorded in the 2008 invertebrate survey for the developer.

springtail entomobrya nivalis 20100608 1767498432

© 2010 BSCG, may be used for reporting purposes with copyright credited.