IN your article highlighting The John Muir Trust’s (JMT) Keep It Wild campaign (“Fresh push to protect wild areas from industrial places”, The Herald, June 13) reference is made to “designated wild land” areas. These areas carry no legal designation. There is good reason for this: wild land is a subjective concept and legal designation requires objective and consistently measurable criteria.

Wild land mapping was something seized on by individuals and organisations with a largely anti-wind farm agenda following an academic exercise by Leeds University. It relies on subjective tests, such as perceived ruggedness and how people feel in a landscape. Even the more objective criteria such as the absence of evidence of human development are vague, since signs of older human existence is allowed. These “tests” are individual and rely on personal knowledge of how a landscape comes about.

We need some honesty. There is almost nowhere in Scotland which has been shaped only by nature and might therefore be considered wild or wilderness. Scotland has some beautiful, valued landscapes but shaping by human development is an integral part of what they are. If we are to have a living, working countryside, humans will need to be allowed to continue to shape it.

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Of course, there are some places that need sensitive treatment and there are some aspects of our past that we should be careful not to obliterate from our landscapes, we would not for a second seek to deny this, but let’s not pretend we are preserving wildness.

David Johnstone

Chairman, Scottish Land & Estates,

Stuart House, Eskmills Business Park, Musselburgh.