The Scottish Government is extending its funding to help farmers and crofters manage greylag geese on the islands.
Environment and Land Reform Minister, Mairi McAllan, said up to £50,000 additional funding will be made available for existing goose management projects on Orkney, Uist, Lewis and Harris, and Tiree and Coll.
The management projects, established 10 years ago by NatureScot, aim to help farmers and crofters control goose populations and reduce their impacts on agricultural activity.
It comes amid reports an increase in geese numbers in some locations has caused significant damage to barley crops and improved pasture, as a result of crops being eaten and trampled.
Estimates suggest the resident greylag geese population on Orkney has increased from 1,500 birds in 2001 to 26,500 birds in 2021.
Funding part of a wider approach
“I have listened to the concerns of farmers and crofters on Orkney, Lewis and Harris, Uist, Tiree and Coll about the difficulties they have had in controlling resident greylag populations,” said Ms McAllan.
“I understand how serious the impacts can be for crofting communities, and for the unique machair habitat and biodiversity that their traditional form of agriculture supports.”
She added: “That’s why we are contributing up to £50,000 towards resident greylag goose control on these islands over the next two years to mitigate the impact on agriculture and support unique and important habitats.
“This is part of our wider approach to delivering more resilient and sustainable farming systems.”
The Scottish Government said NatureScot will continue to work with stakeholders to balance the conservation of geese with reducing and preventing agricultural damage.
The environment agency will also carry out a five-yearly review of goose policy later this year.
This review is expected to look at various issues including the balance between funding for management of high conservation value geese, such as barnacles, against the smaller sums available for greylag goose control.