Inversnaid habitat management update

A bit of a recap:

As we have explained in a previous blog, doing conservation  sometimes requires that we make very difficult decisions. And it is at one of Britain’s most special woodland habitats, the Atlantic oak woodlands of Inversnaid, that we have recently been engaged with the realities of these challenges.

These woodlands, exquisitely beautiful and running alongside Loch Lomond, are globally important for their lichens, mosses and bryophytes and are home to pied flycatchers, wood warblers and a host of other species. However the woodland is no longer in good condition due to the impact of the increasing numbers of feral goats living in the woodland and damaging the trees, lichens, mosses and eating any seedlings and saplings.  We have been told by the Government’s environment adviser SNH that we need to reduce the numbers of goats or gaps in the woodland will widen, and another fragment of this important habitat will be lost.

 An update

We had explored a relocation option as part of our internal processes, prior to approving the cull target, however recent publicity has brought more offers of help and assistance to our attention. In view of this we met with some of the interested parties and are now exploring the options that this has opened up. As part of assessing the feasibility of relocation we have put our grazing and livestock specialists in touch with a couple of places that offered the potential of space for the goats.  Two of these sites have been back in touch with us and we will arrange for a visit from RSPB staff to assess the facilities with a view to welfare of the feral goats.

We are also in the process of engaging an independent animal welfare expert to do a full options appraisal on how best to reduce the impacts on the woodland from the goats at Inversnaid. This expert will report specifically on the implications and efficiency of each option with particular focus on animal welfare.    This study will then be used to inform our decision making when choosing the best methods reducing the impacts of goats on this precious habitat at Inversnaid.