All this month we are highlighting the plight of curlews in the UK. As part of this we're taking a look at what Lewis Macdonald MSP, species champion for curlew in Scotland, has been doing to help the species. 

Championing the Curlew in Scotland

In Scotland our species champion for the curlew is Lewis Macdonald, Member of Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland Region. Since first signing up to the project in 2016 Lewis has been a great advocate for curlew conservation, speaking about the curlew at any opportunity in Scottish Parliament, in his local community and on social media.

Last summer, Lewis joined us at a visit to Loch of Strathbeg in Aberdeenshire, an internationally important wetland site, to learn about (and join in with!) our habitat conservation work for curlews.

Species champions in Scottish Parliament are invaluable assets for the species they represent, and we have been delighted to have someone as engaged as Lewis championing the curlew. Lewis’s enthusiasm going forwards will no doubt be instrumental for ensuring that the curlew remains high on the Scottish policy agenda, a species which has declined by 62% between 1994 and 2016.

Ahead of Curlew Crisis month, we asked Lewis about his species champion role and why it’s so important to have politicians as advocates for species in the Scottish Parliament. Here’s what he had to say.

What does being a species champion mean to you?

Championing a species so well-known yet under threat as the curlew is something I really value. The curlew is a bird of both hill and shore, and so it is a strong symbol of the wealth of nature in North East Scotland and further afield. Our ability to sustain species like the curlew will be a good measure of our commitment to our natural environment in this age of climate change.

Why do you think it’s important to have species champions in Parliament?

Elected politicians are almost as diverse as the species we champion and, for a Parliament which wants to reflect the diversity of human society, supporting bio-diversity is a natural fit. The days when we could take our wildlife or our natural environments for granted are long gone, and no-one is better placed to identify what can be done to promote wild Scotland than MSPs.

What have you done to support Curlew conservation and advocacy?

I have spoken in debates, attended events and photo-opportunities, and visited places of importance to the success of the curlew in breeding in Scotland. I have promoted the curlew in press work, I have included conservation efforts in regional reports which I circulate to households in the North East, and I advertise my support for the curlew in my regional office in Aberdeen.

What’s your favourite thing about the Curlew?

I like a lot of things about the curlew, but I guess most of all I like its hardiness. A bird which can keep its poise in all kinds of conditions on Scotland’s moors and coasts has to be admired for its persistence. The new challenges it faces are largely a result of human activity, so now is the time to give the curlew the support it so deserves.