A site near Loch Lomond has been identified as a "lynx paradise" by a group hopeful of reintroucing the animal to Scotland – despite objections from Forestry and Land Scotland and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, near Loch Lomond, has been selected as the first lynx reintroduction site following an ecological feasibility study and initial community consultation work carried out by the Lynx Trust UK.

Over the past year, the Trust has worked in collaboration with the University of Lancaster to assess habitat suitability for lynx across the whole of Scotland. The study has concluded that "vast tracts of Scottish countryside are suitable for lynx and could support well over 250 individuals".

However, Forestry and Land Scotland said no approach has been made to access land for any trial, and the Scottish Government has been clear that there are no plans to reintroduce lynx or any other large carnivores into Scotland, including on any part of the land it manages.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said it has not been involved in proposals by the Lynx Trust UK and does not support its plans to reintroduce lynx to the National Park.

Scottish Natural Heritage confirmed that talks have taken place with Lynx UK Trust, telling the BBC: "We are aware of plans by Lynx UK Trust to submit a licence application for the reintroduction of lynx.

"We met with the organisation on March 9th for an informal pre-application discussion at the request of the applicant.

"During the meeting we clarified what information would be expected to support an application to reintroduce lynx to Scotland, in line with the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations."

Dr Paul O'Donaghue, of the Lynx Trust UK, commented: "The Queen Elizabeth Forest park is a lynx paradise, it ticks all the boxes; high deer densities, extensive forest cover, extremely low human population density and no major roads. We have identified a 350 square kilometre project area site after discussion with Scottish Natural Heritage.

"It is vital to point out that we hope to develop widespread community support for our plans. This will not be imposed on anyone, rather we see this as an opportunity to build strong networks with partners and stakeholders to deliver what is undoubtedly, the most exciting and large-scale conservation project ever proposed in Scotland."

Dr O'Donaghue added: "We of course want to hear from everyone, and are of very mindful of current COVID-19 restrictions and so this will be the first socially distanced, conservation consultation meeting in Scotland. We can’t wait to meet the community and explain our plans."

Forestry Journal remains dedicated to bringing you all the latest news and views from across our industry, plus up-to-date information on the impacts of COVID-19.

Please support us by subscribing to our print edition, delivered direct to your door, from as little at £69 for 1 year – or consider a digital subscription from just £1 for 3 months.

To arrange, follow this link: https://www.forestryjournal.co.uk/subscribe/

Thanks – and stay safe.