Forestry and Land Scotland has released a five year deer management tender that underlines its commitment to improving and enhancing its sustainable management of Scotland’s National Forests and Land.

The tender follows the recent launch of FLS’s Climate Change Plan that outlines steps the organisation will take to help Scotland reach Net Zero and respond to the biodiversity crisis.

Deer management will be an essential element in delivering on this plan.

At any one time on Scotland’s national forests and land, there are up to 150 million young trees vulnerable to damage from deer – and FLS estimate the cost of the damage done is in the region of £3 million annually.

Valued at around £25 million -£31 million for the five year period (£18 million – £24 million net value after venison sales), the tender will establish a range of contracts that will help deliver a professional cull of more than 150,000 deer.

This is a slight increase in previous cull levels but FLS said that this is necessary to address the high density of deer across the country and to protect Scotland’s national forests and land, and a wide range of habitats, from the excessive negative impacts caused by deer.

‘A substantial challenge’

Ian Fergusson, FLS’ Head of Wildlife Management, said;

“Scotland is facing a substantial challenge in keeping its deer population at a level that is in balance with the environment.

With the estimated number of deer being about 1 million animals across the country, their concentrations in some areas are detrimental to woodland creation, to nature conservation, to the environments and habitats that they and many other species depend on and – ultimately – to the long-term health of the herd.

“As responsible land managers we need to act to achieve the necessary balance within the deer population – and that is something that can only realistically be attained through evidence based culls sustained by year round effort.

“For many years we have delivered our annual culls thanks to the hundreds of highly trained contractors, who work in partnership to the same high professional standards as our own staff.

“We have also engaged with them to present this tender in a way that works best for them and for us – so we’re looking forward to there being a substantial response.”

The contracts will have a significant positive economic impact in rural communities by supporting up to 100 jobs in the deer management sector and, through the supply of around 37,000 carcasses annually, will continue to support jobs in Scotland’s venison processing sector