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Better Regulation of Hill Tracks - 10 December 2013

SIR, - An authoritative report, Track Changes, has reinforced calls for better regulation of bulldozed tracks in the countryside.

Following damage to rare wildlife resulting from operations associated with forest tracks in Strathspey, the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group has, with members of the Highland Biological Recording Group, shared concerns with the Cairngorms National Park Authority. It has long been recognised that such irreversible damage to nationally important biodiversity could be avoided more readily by returning to a system that ensures scrutiny through the planning process.

Experience shows that the most damaging effects of track construction proliferating on peat relate to drainage. Too often, even small-scale disturbance can have dramatic and long-term effects on the health of peatlands, as well as contributing to the emission of the carbon stored in the excavated peat.

The eye-opening range of case studies illustrated in Track Changes augments a large and longstanding body of evidence. This shows that the retention of automatic development rights for fanning and forestry and their de facto extension to the field-sports industry has a rapid increase in detrimental impacts.

We salute the nine organisations who cormmissioned the report Track Changes that can be seen at and support the calls of their members. We also welcome the contribution of researchers and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, which for years has spoken against ill-considered hill tracks.

Gus Jones, convener, Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Fiodhag, Nethybridge .