Deer management strategy
Deer are a treasured natural resource that make a valuable contribution to our biodiversity, climate change, social, cultural and silvicultural objectives.
This deer management strategy explains the significance and impact of deer on Scotland's national forests and Forest Enterprise Scotland's approach to deer management between 2014 and 2017.
The significance of deer on the National Forest Estate
The environment and biodiversity
Deer are an important and treasured part of Scotland’s biodiversity. They have a major effect on habitats including native woodlands, and they benefit and support a wide range of bird, mammal, insect and plant species across a variety of ecosystems. However, high deer impacts can be detrimental to the natural heritage, particularly to woodland regeneration, ground layer species and to fragile ecosystems like peat bogs.
We manage deer in urban and rural environments. Catching a glimpse of deer is a highlight of many of the nine million annual recreation visits to the estate. We aim to manage deer in a way that sustains these wildlife viewing opportunities and in Galloway Forest Park, our Red Deer Range provides ranger-led guided walks and close encounters with Red deer.
We also work to ensure that local communities have the opportunity to shape our deer and land management plans through community partnerships and public consultations.
Sustainable economic development
A valuable economic benefit of the National Forest Estate comes from the growing and production of timber, biomass and firewood. High density deer populations can have a negative impact on the establishment of young trees, as well as mature timber. The sustainable management of deer provides further economic benefits through the development of attractive landscapes, tourism, high quality wild venison, and, where appropriate, recreational stalking opportunities.
How we manage deer
We take a multi-faceted approach to managing deer on the National Forest Estate. Our approach includes:
Working with others
We work closely with deer management groups, our neighbouring land owners, residents and partners to understand the full range of interests involved, to develop a balanced and sustainable deer management approach, to manage deer impacts and to deliver the Scottish Government’s deer strategy: Scotland’s Wild Deer: A National Approach.
Integrated land management
Our integrated land management practices, which include the delivery of sustainable deer management, help to deliver the Scottish Land Use Strategy, ecosystem services and enhance the estate's resilience to climate change impacts.
Industry best practice
We monitor our deer management activities closely to take into account the welfare of the deer, to maintain high standards and to apply industry best practice. We aim to deliver high standards of deer management to meet our environmental and quality commitments within the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme, Scottish Quality Wild Venison and the Code of Practice on Deer Management.
Our policy on using lead-free ammunition
Our deer management strategy also outlines the contributions of our work to the delivery of:
- Scotland's Wild Deer: a National Approach: A 20 year vision for wild deer management in Scotland, first published by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2008, and updated in 2014. This was developed and is being delivered by private and public bodies working together. It is relevant to all species of wild deer in Scotland and all types of land ownership and land management.
- Scottish Natural Heritage's Code of Practice on Deer Management provides practical guidance for sustainable deer management. It's aimed at anyone that owns or manages land where wild deer are found, or manages wild deer on someone else’s land.