If plans to plant millions of trees are given the green light Golden Eagles in Scotland could be doomed.

It is very seldom we find common ground with what Alex Hogg, Chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) or his views and what he has to say about raptors, however on this occasion Alex could be right. While there are suggestions planting millions of trees could increase numbers of prey species for the golden eagle, many also believe the damage caused by habitats destroyed could result in less prey items not more resulting in starvation for Scotland’s favorite bird.


The planting of millions of trees throughout much of Scotland’s uplands could be the final nail in the coffin for this icon raptor.

The future of the golden eagle in Scotland is being threatened by plans to plant millions of trees warns the Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) Mr Alex Hogg. Mr Hogg believes the Golden Eagle would be at threat from the Scottish government’s plans to plant thousands of acres of forestry every year.

Alex Hogg, the chairman of the SGA, also said the bird of prey was at risk from an increase in wind turbines.

He said: “Probably the biggest new threat to golden eagle survival comes from the government’s own forestry and energy strategy. By 2050, the Scottish Government plans to cover much of Scotland’s open hills in trees, despite knowing that eagles require open habitat for feeding.

“Scotland will not look like the country it is now. It will look more like Norway.”

There are around 431 pairs of golden eagles in Scotland.

The RSPB has argued that the eagle is now entirely confined to remote areas of the country, such as the mountains and glens of the west coast and on the Western Isles.

In 2010, ministers set a goal of planting 100 million trees by 2015.

About 40 million have been planted to date.

A statement from the Scottish Government said: “Our woodland planting targets could actually benefit golden eagles as one of the major difficulties facing this species is a lack of suitable prey and evidence shows that the careful location and design of new woodland areas can help increase the availability of prey animals.

“Scottish ministers fully consider all environmental impacts in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB and others before deciding whether or not to grant consent for wind farm developments.”

A 2008 report by Scottish Natural Heritage acknowledged that the planting of new trees was a potential constraint to the breeding of golden eagles.

Mr Hogg added: “Within the next few decades, the golden eagle in Scotland will have nowhere to expand its range.”

4 comments to If plans to plant millions of trees are given the green light Golden Eagles in Scotland could be doomed.

  • John Miles

    If only you could trust this government. Once they have independance Salmon will stick to Sitka Spruce and cover the area.

  • nirofo

    It may have escaped notice that Scotland was once virtually covered in forest from the north coast to the lowlands, the eagles managed to survive then and are still surviving to present times. What makes you think the planting of trees will be detrimental to the eagles, are you suggesting that most of Scotland will be without hunting grounds and breeding sites for the birds. There are approximately 440 pairs of Golden Eagles in Scotland, this is a miniscule number for the huge amount of suitable territory available to them. The planting of what will be in effect a small amount of trees compared to the available space involved will have barely any impact on the birds at all, in fact in the early stages of growth it will provide extra hunting opportunities for the eagles and many other birds. Even when the trees are mature there will still be huge areas of suitable territory available. As is usual for most Raptors in the UK, the biggest and probably only direct threat the eagles face is from shooting estates, ill informed shepherds and lack of will to protect them from our esteemed wildlife protection agency.

    • Terry Pickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

      I am aware of two historic Golden Eagle nests established in the Highlands where, after the area surrounding the nesting tree was planted with non native conifers species, the nesting tree was eventually abandoned. If the Scottish government intend to plant the scots pine, not larch or spruce, I envisage only benefits not problems for wildlife, including the golden eagle in the long term. But will the golden eagle still be around in 100 or so years?

  • nirofo


    “But will the golden eagle still be around in 100 or so years?”

    The answer to that question relies entirely on bringing an end to the out of control Raptor Persecution at the hands of the shooting estates and others! The only way this is ever likely to happen is if our illustrious wildlife protection agencies, the police and our once esteemed justice system get their combined acts together and make it happen. Widespread and timely media reporting of persecution incidents and where they took place, naming and shaming estate owners, and a one million plus petition to the government to put a stop to Raptor Persecution from the only bird protection society, (RSPB) with enough members and sufficient clout could start to make it happen.