Farmers and crofters in North Uist, Coll and Tiree will be compensated for allowing barnacle geese to graze their land as part of a new scheme.
The £60,000 barnacle goose management scheme, launched yesterday by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), will compensate producers for allowing the geese to graze undisturbed in protected areas of the islands, so they will cause less damage elsewhere.
According to SNH, Scotland hosts around 60% of the world’s population of Greenland barnacle geese and numbers have increased in the past 20 years.
In the late 1990s the population totalled 3,000 on the three islands. However this has now increased to more than 10,000 including 6,000 in North Uist and 4,700 in Coll and Tiree.
SNH Outer Hebrides operations manager, Jonathan Ferguson, said: “Wild geese are an important part of Scotland’s nature, but their increased numbers have been challenging for farmers and crofters. It’s still a significant issue in some areas, with a difficult balance to make between conservation and farming.
“I’d encourage crofters and farmers to see if they’re eligible for this new scheme, which will both reduce goose damage to crops elsewhere and help conserve geese. We’re happy to answer any questions and help with applications at our local offices in Uist and Lochgilphead.”
The scheme covers more than 1,600 acres – 990 acres in North Uist and 620 acres in Coll and Tiree – and will run from October this year until May 2021.
To be eligible, agricultural land must lie within an area of high barnacle goose use, be permanent or rotational grassland, and be in a suitable condition to attract the geese. In Uist, eligible land must be outside mainland areas of the island, as agreed with the Uist goose group.
More information is available online here and the deadline for applications is September 16.