Borders folk value nature says survey

Nature-lovong Borders residents are particularly fond of the red squirrel.
Nature-lovong Borders residents are particularly fond of the red squirrel.

LATEST findings from a national survey say Borderers and Scots generally value nature.

A YouGov poll for Scottish Natural Heritage found nine out of 10 adults enjoy seeing and hearing birds and that nearly the same percentage (89 percent) see the likes of red squirrels and capercaillie as part of Scotland’s culture which helps make the countryside special.

The project co-ordinator of Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS), Karen Ramoo said: “I am not surprised by this figure. We’ve received a huge amount of public support for the work we undertake to safeguard the future of Scotland’s red squirrel.”

The Borders are included in the south of Scotland for the YouGov findings, which show that compared with Scotland as a whole, the south population sees the countryside as relatively more important as a home for wildlife, followed by natural processes, and then recreation and tourism, with the role of farming and forestry coming last.

The report states: “Southern residents place the highest importance in Scotland on protecting urban parks and playing fields, farmland wildlife and the peatlands.

“They also show a higher than average concern for protecting woodland, heather moorland, and our rivers. A top priority is having high water quality in rivers and along coasts as well as tackling beach litter.”

It continues saying that those in the south of Scotland would most like to see a greater mix of broadleaved trees in woodlands out of all the areas in Scotland, and are most concerned about iconic woodland species such as the red squirrel.

The Borders are home to about a quarter of Scotland’s red squirrels and Scotland is home to three quarters of the native creature’s British population. Ms Ramoo said hundreds of people help save the iconic animal in practical conservation work which she says demonstrates the public’s support of the project she runs but also of red squirrel conservation.

She said: “Scotland is still lucky enough to hold a healthy population of red squirrels and it is important we continue to hold on to these populations for future generations to enjoy this native species.”

The poll finds: “Farmland, woodland, coastal and upland birds, along with otters and traditional wildflowers are also relatively highly valued [by those in southern Scotland].”

It notes: “Residents in the south Scotland are also the second highest for enjoying seeing and hearing birds in their garden.”

More than 80 per cent of Scots believe it important that rare birds living on grasslands, such as the corncrake, do not become extinct, 80 per cent like seeing butterflies and want to see more and nearer 90 per cent think an important part of the uplands is seeing and hearing wild birds and would like to see more.

More than 80 per cent want to see otters in all of Scotland’s rivers.

Scots’ top five on the wish list for the country’s environment are: clean waters around the coast; litter-free beaches; well maintained parks in towns and cities; wild salmon in rivers and an end to bird of prey persecution.

SNH’s director of policy and advice, Susan Davies, said: “These results show that people place great importance on their continued protection so that the next generation of Scots are also able to use and enjoy them. The challenge is to ensure that the social and economic contribution of our natural heritage is widely understood and valued in decisions taken about Scotland’s land use and management.”

Over 3,000 adults were questioned online for the survey during August.