Wild animals including wolves, lynx and wild boar could be reintroduced to British forests as part of a campaign to restore species hunted to extinction.
Plans put together by Rewilding Britain would see the animals roaming Scotland and other parts of the UK in an attempt to allow "native forests to regenerate, while giving the seas a chance to recover from industrial fishing".
Supporters of the scheme argue that Britain should follow in the footsteps of other European countries, which are already home to large predators. They also maintain that the move would improve biodiversity.
Lynx, which eat deer, rabbits and hares among other animals but are not considered a risk to people, have not been seen in Britain for 1,300 years.
Kielder Forest considered as site for return of wild lynx
Campaigners want the lynx to be reintroduced to Scotland
Spokeswoman Susan Wright told BBC Scotland: "A lot of our important animals were hunted to extinction, species like the wolf, the wild boar, the lynx.
"These are important keystone species which actually drive ecological processes and we should be looking a lot more seriously at bringing these animals back."
But the proposals have drawn criticism from farmers' leaders - who say that the countryside has already experienced problems after the reintroduction of other species, such as beavers and sea eagles.
Animals in decline
Animals in decline
1/8 Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)
Where: Orkney Islands. What: Between 2001-2006, numbers in Orkney declined by 40 per cent. Why: epidemics of the phocine distemper virus are thought to have caused major declines, but the killing of seals in the Moray Firth to protect salmon farms may have an impact.
2/8 African lion (Panthera leo)
Where: Ghana. What: In Ghana’s Mole National Park, lion numbers have declined by more than 90 per cent in 40 years. Why: local conflicts are thought to have contributed to the slaughter of lions and are a worrying example of the status of the animal in Western and Central Africa.
3/8 Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Where: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Costa Rica. What: Numbers are down in both the Atlantic and Pacific. It declined by 95 per cent between 1989-2002 in Costa Rica. Why: mainly due to them being caught as bycatch, but they’ve also been affected by local developments.
4/8 Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)
Where: South Atlantic. What: A rapid decline. One population, from Bird Island, South Georgia, declined by 50 per cent between 1972-2010, according to the British Antarctic Survey. Why: being caught in various commercial longline fisheries.
5/8 Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica)
Where: Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. What: fall in populations has been dramatic. In the early 1990s numbers were over a million, but are now estimated to be around 50,000. Why: the break up of the former USSR led to uncontrolled hunting. Increased rural poverty means the species is hunted for its meat
6/8 Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Where: found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate seas. Why: at risk from overfishing and as a target in recreational fishing. A significant number of swordfish are also caught by illegal driftnet fisheries in the Mediterranean
7/8 Argali Sheep (Ovis mammon)
Where: Central and Southern Asian mountains,usually at 3,000-5,000 metres altitude. Why: domesticated herds of sheep competing for grazing grounds. Over-hunting and poaching.
8/8 Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
Where: the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to South Africa and to the Tuamoto Islands (Polynesia), north to the Ryukyu Islands (south-west Japan), and south to New Caledonia. Why: Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and trading of the species
They say that dams built by beavers have increased erosion and the risk of flooding in neighbouring fields, and that sea eagles, also known as white tailed eagles, kill lambs.
The Scottish government is now trying to decide whether the beavers - which were put in place in Argyll as part of a scientific study - should stay.
NFU Scotland said politicians and Scottish Natural Heritage should "show stronger leadership" on the issue of rewilding.
Vice President Andrew McCornick said: "Our countryside provides food, forestry, tourism, renewables, field sports and environmental goods.
"Recent history has taught us any species introduction, whether legal or illegal, can have an impact on the many benefits that the Scottish countryside currently delivers."
The Scottish government said they intend to consider the issues carefully - but said there are currently "no plans" to reintroduce top predators such as lynx or wolves.Reuse content