I READ your report on our ancient woodlands ("Deer cull urged amid rising threat to ancient woodlands", The Herald, February 4) with interest and then referred to the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland.

There is clearly a threat to ancient woodlands from overgrazing in many parts of Scotland. However, there are positive stories.

For more than 20 years the Sunart Oakwoods Initiative has worked with Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and private landowners to restore and plant thousands of hectares of Atlantic oakwoods as well as other native woodlands. This is a 100-year-long initiative over the peninsulas of Ardgour, Morvern and Ardnamurchan which has transformed the landscape and habitats and will continue to do so.

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During the many years that I was their local Highland councillor I urged that the deer management groups be opened up for other local stakeholders, especially the local community, to attend and that their deer management plans should be made public. This needs to happen now. Responsible landowners, as well as local stalkers, have nothing to fear and much to gain by doing so.

Michael Foxley,

2 Achaphubuil, by Fort William.

RECENTLY the Scottish Govern­ment once more ignored the refusal of planning permission by a local authority and gave the go-ahead to a development which will inevitably have an unwelcome impact on the surrounding area, in this case the construction of 16 houses near the battlefield of Culloden. Ignored also were the many voices raised in opposition, not least that of Sir Kenneth Calman, chairman of the National Trust for Scotland, guardian of this important historic site ("Trust wants Culloden approval reversed", The Herald, February 5). In a moving letter to The Herald (January 15) he referred to the inventory of battlefields which Historic Scotland had prepared in the wake of the worldwide outcry over the proposal to build the Beauly to Denny power line through the heart of the great battlefield of Sheriffmuir. He observed: "What use is this if we do not have the legislative and procedural means to ensure the intrinsic value of these sites is considered in any decisions that affect them?"

The inventory of battlefields, although a worthwhile exercise, is indeed proving to be an empty gesture. As expected, with the construction of the power line the battlefield of Sheriffmuir has been greatly destroyed, but now, after its inclusion in the inventory, one of the battlefield owners has been given permission to plough up and replant a part of it, while the principal landowner plans to cover his portion with mountain bike tracks and later proceed to blanket half of it with Sitka spruce.

Sheriffmuir, like other 18th century battlefields, is a great burial ground. Such sites are a very important part of Scotland's history and must be preserved from insensitive development.

Virginia Wills,