GOOD NEWS: A Win for Wild Places

Welcome to the first Good News instalment. Each month we will bring you some happier and
lighter news in relation to climate change and wild places. We are often shrouded with bleak
stories about the climate crisis, and in turn, this can create a negative space in our heads.
By also including some good news in your lives, we can instead choose to reclaim a sense
of hope and belonging…

A Wild Place
This month I had the opportunity to visit one of Scotland’s wildest places: the Knoydart
Peninsula. Not only was I filled with awe among the vastness of the area, I felt a strong tie to
the community as I stood on the quiet shores of Arnisdale and we said goodbye to the old
skipper -Peter Fletcher, whom we rather enjoyed listening to as he gleefully chatted about
his adventures far and wide before returning to his place of home in Scotland.
Although beautiful, what underpinned the whole trip was the quietness of the landscape. The
townships of Arnisdale and Corran, Peter had told us were once bustling with people and
marine wildlife on the fringe of remoteness. A place where you once could see the rivers and
lochs teeming with salmon and hear kids playing down the riverside. And, although families
are starting to return and make a home in the village, the salmon have depleted and are on
the edge of an ecological catastrophe (this sounds bad I know). To further the issue, MOWI,
the salmon farming giant, had submitted plans to increase salmon production by a further
25% in the area – threatening the endangerment of wild salmon, trout and pearl mussels.

Friends of Loch Hourn
However, not all is lost! Our good news story follows the work of the remote Highland
organisation, Friends of Loch Hourn (FoLH) and the success of the first ever rejection of this
expansion. It means the protection of Scotland’s wildest place, and is key in the overall
progression to achieve net zero. Society can be enriched when nature is in a state of repair.
This is a huge step for this area and shows the power of the community. Now the focus can
be used to restore the loch’s habitats, and FoLH will continue to survey the lochs to assess
the viability of restoring native oyster and seagrass beds. Hopefully, trends will show the
salmon’s return to the area once more, and how they can be managed in a way that mutually
benefits the community and the environment.

An Alliance with the Earth
The aquaculture system needs an overhaul. Work towards reclamations of ruined or
declining river and lake habitats in Scotland, and indeed worldwide, should be a priority.
Luckily, there are many community groups that are fighting their corner. Fishing can also
take an intersectional approach as culturally (and in other countries) it is the women who
hold knowledge, skills and tradition to manage fisheries. I hope to write more about fishing
and intersectionality down the line but for now, here are a couple of inspiration pieces this
week that have improved my knowledge on this topic!

Gender and Fishing
Lessons from Jeju – Patagonia

Ailsa Beck (she/they), Environment Writer