The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has called for Scotland’s new farming policy to recognise native livestock and equine breeds for their biodiversity significance,
In a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation paper on a new national agricultural policy, RBST pointed out that the UN Convention on Biodiversity does not limit biodiversity to what is found in the wild but also refers to agricultural biodiversity, which includes livestock on farms.
RBST chief executive, Christopher Price said: “Too often, discussions about improving biodiversity fail to recognise the role of native breeds of livestock and equines.
“As well as the biodiversity importance of these breeds within their own species, native breeds also make crucial contributions to the maintenance of natural habitats.
“In Scotland native breeds like Highland cattle, Eriskay ponies and North Ronaldsay sheep were bred to provide particular benefits in particular locations, as a result they are the ultimate ecosystem service providers.
“Native cattle helped create the pastures, mixed woodlands and meadows we cherish, while native ponies are ideal for conservation grazing and pigs can be used in woodland management.”
RBST’s consultation response also makes the point that native breeds are an irreplaceable part of Scotland’s heritage with an important role in enhancing local brands.