Allan is the Chair of the Scottish Wildcat Action Steering Group. He was the Former Chair for Scottish Wildlife Trust; Founding Chair of the Scottish Beaver Trial; Trustee of Scottish Badgers; Member of the Scottish Environment Link Wildlife Crime Task Force; and Founder Member of the Scottish Species Reintroductions Forum.
Latest News - Meet the Scottish Wildcat Action Steering Group Chairman - Allan Bantick OBE
Having recently been appointed Chairman of the Steering Group of Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) I have been asked to write this short blog to explain who I am, how I came to enter the wildlife conservation fray and what my approach might be to the tasks that lie ahead.
After 26 years in the RAF teaching outdoor pursuits and aircrew survival and 20 years as a record producer and professional musician, I retired to devote what remained of my life to wildlife conservation. During the 70s, 80s and 90s my activities as a mountaineer, canoeist and mountain rescue team member brought me intimately close to nature.
Back then, those of us in that type of work and play were among the very few who regularly got to see eagles and otters and other rare creatures at close quarters on their home ground, and those experiences were fertile soil for my growing appreciation of wild things and wild places for their own sake and not just as somewhere to pursue physical activities.
So, when a local badger group was formed in Strathspey I was easily persuaded to get involved and the rest, as they say, is history. With the support and encouragement of my wife Heather I became more and more involved with a variety of species, mostly through work on the ground to begin with but gradually that work migrated into committee rooms up and down the country where I hoped such administrative and communication skills as I had acquired through my career in the forces and as a businessman might be usefully applied.
It has been my privilege to contribute to the conservation of Scotland’s wildlife by undertaking a variety of roles. In the past these have included being Chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Chairman of the Scottish Beaver Trial, Vice Chairman of Scottish Badgers, Founder Member of the National Species Reintroduction Forum, Member of the Scottish Biodiversity Committee and Trustee of The Wildlife Trusts. I remain a Trustee of Scottish Badgers and I sit on the Scottish Environment Link Wildlife Forum and Wildlife Crime Sub Group.
I consider such committee work to be very important, but to keep a sense of proportion I feel it is also necessary to stay grounded, so I keep my boots muddy by continuing to work with the Boat of Garten Wildlife Group which includes my running a Badger Hide, maintaining feeding stations and conducting various nest box projects and surveys in the area. My wife and I also volunteer for Scottish Wildcat Action TNVR work which provides an important hands-on dimension to my work with the SWA Steering Group.
I hope I can draw on these experiences in my role as Chairman of the Steering Group. We are very fortunate that the membership of the group includes some of Scotland’s leading experts in fields relevant to our work and I see it as the Chairman’s main job to coordinate that expertise and bring it to bear for the benefit of the project.
We also have the strong support of a wide variety of organisations in the SWA Forum whose memberships total many thousands of Scottish people, all urging us to save the wildcat. We are so fortunate to have the support, enthusiasm and time of many members of the public, including dozens of tireless volunteers.
It is also a great advantage to have Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government fully on board. Wildlife and the environment have never before been so high on the Scottish political agenda and I count us extremely fortunate to have the personal support of Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP. Ms Cunningham has an impressive track record of encouraging this type of work and has shown a lively interest in our project; I look forward to ensuring she is kept up to date with developments.
A complex web of challenges still faces the wildcat and it is the job of SWA to navigate its way through that web by making the right choices between the options open to us and I relish the opportunity of playing a part in that process. If we get it right, the wildcat will have a fighting chance of surviving into Scotland’s future.
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