SIR, – I have been interested in the exchange of views regarding predator control and the great reduction in the population of waders and other species such as lapwing.

I agree with much of what Malcolm Hay wrote in his recent letter, however, it is sad to see again, farmers blaming commercial forestry for many of their problems and for wider natural disasters! I now work as a consultant for a small forestry management company, RDS Forestry, and have practised forestry in the west of Scotland for 50 years.

Most of the land I planted was sold, as I am sure was the case in upper Banffshire, by farmers and small estate owners wishing to take the money for land which was underused for agriculture and also where grouse had declined, and were no longer residing in their former numbers.

Very few sellers made any real improvements to their residual units with the proceeds of sale but some, no doubt, had a bank manager breathing down their neck.

Our forests are certainly not unmanaged and our sporting tenants work closely with neighbours to control foxes and other predators. This year we sought a licence from SNH to kill ravens which were attacking lambs on a farm where the hill land is being planted.

On Islay, a client purchased a young forest from the Forestry Commission in the 1990s which I have improved, not only for the timber production, but also as a wildlife habitat. Initially, we had lots of grouse and it was a joy to see them – but gradually with the Rinns of Islay SSSI all round us aiming to protect the harrier population, the grouse declined to the point of extinction.

As you walked through the young trees you found abundant evidence of grouse carcases and bones etc – so sad. As Malcolm Hay concluded, 'Langholm has taught us that ultimately, we are all losers'.

As taxpayers we have paid out a great deal of money for poor guidance based on poor 'science'.

JR Dickson

RDS Forestry,