Chief executive, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Grant Moir, issues a statement following last week’s protests in Grantown-on-Spey.

“Last week about 80 farmers and crofters met with senior staff and board members. A lot of the disquiet seemed to stem from how the Park Authority engages with the farming community in the National Park and whether it takes account of their views.

“There are obviously two sides to every story and I can’t pretend everyone will see eye to eye on this issue. However, I do think it’s worth setting out some of the work that we do with farmers and crofters, as well as what we plan to do going forward.

READ MORE | Farmers and Crofters concerned over beaver reintroduction

“In the past two years, around 60 farms have benefited from funding, over and above national schemes. This includes undertaking water management, carrying out carbon and biodiversity audits, undertaking goose management across areas of Strathspey, paying for the restoration of dykes, undertaking mob grazing for diversity, and payments for infrastructure.

“An issue raised at the meeting was the feeling that we did not consult enough on beaver translocation to the upper Spey. I think that there is a difference that needs to be teased out here between engagement and agreement.

Following the change in Scottish Government policy to allow translocations, the board took the decision in public session to progress with the application for a licence in June 2022. There was extensive engagement throughout 2023, involving over 40 site visits and multiple meetings with farmers.

This led to significant changes being made to the mitigation framework for beavers in the National Park, which is now well above the national scheme.

“Does this satisfy those farmers who wanted a delay to the release of beavers or indeed no beavers to be released at all? No, it doesn’t. However, I would argue that we did engage, listen, and, ultimately, change our approach based on feedback. The reason we didn’t agree with delaying or stopping the release of beavers was that we – along with nearly three quarters of the 164 residents who responded to the survey – believe that the benefits the species brings for nature and people are significant and are real benefits to the National Park. The benefit of the Farmers and Crofters’ Group being set up now is there will be an easier way for us all to have early dialogue in the future.

“We do appreciate that people don’t protest if everything is fine, and we want to work closely with farmers and crofters to find a positive way forward that delivers thriving businesses and helps achieve the Park's aims around nature and climate. These are not mutually exclusive and I believe passionately that delivering for nature and climate can be good for agricultural businesses and local employment.”