- Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Forestry Commission Scotland
- United Kingdom
Controversial plans to plant 89,000 trees on Tullos Hill, Aberdeen, are under fire from the public, community councils, animal charities and experts. This petition seeks to preserve this crucial wildlife habitat as the rich meadowland it already is. The city has approved plans to build on other nearby meadows, which will be lost forever.
The tree planting scheme would require a cull of roe deer - because it is allegedly the cheapest option to protect the trees. The deer have lived in this area for generations, live approximately 6-7 years, and according to some accounts are nearly tame. Non-lethal ways to protect the trees exist – but the supporters of the tree scheme refuse to spend money on these when killing is cheaper.
The Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals has called the tree scheme ‘abhorrent and absurd’ – a sentiment shared by the thousands who have already signed petitions to save the deer. There is no evidence the deer are in any danger of starving or over-population; the City is belatedly making sweeping statements that culls are part of land management. The original reason the cull was proposed is, and remains, the tree scheme. There was a public consultation – but shooting the deer was never mentioned at the time (even though using rabbit fences was mentioned). This consultation put out a misleading impression that animal issues had been thought through and only the rabbits were worth mentioning. This is one of the reasons the objections to the scheme are so strong.
The tree scheme also requires several years of weed-killer spraying, the effects and cost of which are unknown at this time. The proponents of the tree scheme also plan gorse clearance (gorse provides year-round food and shelter to many forms of wildlife), loss of feeding and breeding meadow and grass lands, and loss or damage to small archaeological sites which are dotted all over the hill. There are several large Bronze Age cairns on the site, which would be obstructed by trees.
There is no justification for changing one ecosystem for another - particularly when the previous attempt failed (due to weeds, vandalism, poor soil, wind and deer browsing) – which cost the taxpayer a minimum of £43,800. Perhaps there would have been less deer damage if the recommended size of tree guards had been used, but instead of the 120cm guards recommended 90cm ones were put in.
There is no proof that the new tree planting scheme would be more successful than the previous attempt. It is now recognised that meadows are being lost at a phenomenal rate, and this petition calls upon the relevant bodies to protect and enhance Tullos Hill. These are some, but not all, of the reasons why this scheme – originally a Liberal Democrat election pledge – should be abandoned.
The previous tree planting on Tullos failed for many reasons – weeds, poor soil, vandalism, use of wrong-sizes tree guards – and deer browsing. We the undersigned do not want a tree planted in any of our names on Tullos Hill. Plant trees somewhere more suitable. We want to keep our meadowlands.
We the undersigned join local community councils, animal charities and welfare agencies and object to the concept of killing existing wildlife to protect trees which could go elsewhere. We the undersigned object to any plan that sees killing as a desirable option because it is the cheapest option, especially when non-lethal options exist. We find this kind of thinking totally unacceptable.
The Tullos animal population has been stable for decades, and there is no evidence of animal starving or suffering. The record shows that the cull was first proposed to protect the trees and no other reason. Animal charities have called the idea of killing deer to plant trees where a meadow exists ‘abhorrent and absurd’: we the undersigned agree.
We call upon Scottish Natural Heritage to ensure Tullos Hill is recognised as being a valuable meadowland /grassland ecosystem already. Meadowland is fast disappearing in Aberdeen and throughout the UK. National and European environmental initiatives have been launched to protect the type of habitat Tullos Hill provides. We call upon you to implement a scheme to protect Tullos as meadowlands, and all of its wildlife by means of a completely open, honest transparent consultation with the public.