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Page 3 Profile: Paul Lister, landowner

He looks rugged and outdoorsy!

That’s right, someone with lots of land (and money). English multimillionaire and heir to the MFI fortune Paul Lister, purchased the Alladale Estate in 2003, with a view to creating a wilderness reserve. We’re talking 23,000 acres of unspoiled countryside in the ancient Caledonian forest in north-east Scotland: panoramic views, the introduction of elk, wild boar and highland cattle, the planting of 800,000 native trees and, of course, a remedy for modern life are all part of the package.

It doesn’t sound like it gets much better than that.

Mr Lister might disagree. He now wants to reintroduce bears and wolves to the sprawling estate in Sutherland. The animals were once a staple part of the British landscape, but were hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago. Now Mr Lister is hoping to reintroduce “maybe two packs of 10 wolves, maybe a dozen bears”.

Yikes! Is that really a good idea?

Farmers, walkers and legal experts have all spoken against the scheme. There have been claims that Mr Lister is being selfish. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everyone a right of responsible access over most of the land and inland water in Scotland and this access could be obstructed by the proposal, which could also fall within the remit of zoo legislation.

So what’s the counter-argument?

The scheme would follow in the footsteps of Yellowstone National Park in the US, which successfully reintroduced wolves in 1995. Mr Lister has emphasised that the animals’ presence could also benefit Scottish tourism.

Who gets the final say?

A feasibility study will be followed by consultations with the Scottish Government, environmental groups and local communities…

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