Johann Lamont MSP

New PHOTO posted

SPECIES CHAMPION INITIATIVE (RE-LAUNCH)

You can read my contribution to this debate below:

It is a privilege to be part of the debate. They say that every day is a school day, and today I have learned probably a great deal more than I needed to know about the slow worm. It is an important debate and I congratulate Graeme Dey.

Members might ask why somebody who represents Glasgow should be part of the initiative. Apart from the fact that I am the number 1 fan of “The Archers” in the Parliament and know more than anybody needs to know about the agricultural challenges that our farmers face, I spent my childhood going on holiday to the island of Tiree, understanding the importance of love of the land and the elements, and the importance of the way in which humans, the land and animals must work together. I have a great love of the bird of which I am a champion—the lapwing, or peewit.

I have to confess that I had a bit of a desire to be the champion for the corncrake, but not for the first time Mike Russell beat me to it. Many of the issues that are faced by the lapwing are the challenges that were faced by the corncrake, and perhaps they could have the same solutions. The experience of the corncrake should give us optimism that it is possible to manage the land in a way that values the animals that live upon it.

However, as with everything else, there is inequality. We all said “Aw” at the idea of the wee hedgehog, but we were not aw-ing at the slow worm. I must congratulate Bruce Crawford on championing a species that probably only its own mammy would love. However, it is important that we love all creatures and understand how they all play a part in enriching our world. I am a lot cheaper and more shallow than Bruce Crawford, and I am the champion for the lapwing.

However the poor lapwing has a champion who, I am sad to say, cannot match the words of the people here who have described all the wonderful things they have done as species champion, and who have succeeded in educating me and shaming me at the same time. I promise to do more in the future to talk about and be a champion on behalf of the lapwing.

“Lapwings are part of the plover family of wading birds and can be seen in the UK all year round. Also known as the peewit in imitation of its display calls, its proper name describes its wavering flight. They breed throughout Scotland with the highest concentrations in the Hebrides and Northern Isles, and in lowland agricultural areas of the south and east. In the winter, lapwings will tend to fly in loose bunched flocks with Scottish birds moving to lower ground and estuaries, some migrating to Ireland and even further to France or Portugal. Despite their migrations, they come back”

—amazingly—

“to the same fields to nest every year. Although widespread in Scotland, the number of lapwings declined by 59% between 1995 and 2013. In 2015, the lapwing was listed as ‘globally near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.”

There is plenty to do to highlight the importance of protecting the species. We need to know how we can work with the people who work the land to develop practices that do not threaten species, and to understand that there is a role for Government in ensuring that the conditions exist that mean that we do not lose these precious creatures. We know that farmers, crofters and landowners are very often willing to work with those who want to see species protected. The campaign is an important one because it affords the opportunity to talk to all our young people and to talk all across Scotland—urban and rural—about the fact that the things that we do have consequences for the future.

You can watch the full debate here: http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Search/Index/0452f61e-8c27-4520-b13c-2d41cb614390?Keyword=species%20champion&StartDate=01%2F01%2F2010&EndDate=10%2F11%2F2016&IncludeChamber=True&IncludeCommittees=True&PageNumber=0&OrderByField=ScheduledStart&QueryOrder=DESC

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