As a photographer, I’ve had my fair share of captivating moments behind the lens. But nothing quite prepared me for the scene that unfolded before me on the Glenprosen Estate in 2021. Picture this: a majestic red stag, its antlers crowned with the wisdom of centuries, being carried off by a humble pony. It was a moment frozen in time—a collision of wild beauty and domestic simplicity.
The Glenprosen Estate, nestled in the heart of Angus, Scotland, was more than just a piece of land. It was a living canvas—a symphony of heather-clad hills, rolling streams, and the haunting calls of curlews. For years, it had been a sanctuary for wildlife, including the iconic red deer.
Fast forward to 2021. The Glenprosen Estate, once a haven for wildlife, was sold to the Scottish Government for tree planting. The news hit me like a thunderclap. The very canvas I had immortalized through my lens was now destined to be transformed. The red deer, the curlews, and the Red Grouse — they all faced an uncertain future.
The Scottish Government stumped up a staggering £17.6 million to secure Glenprosen Estate—equivalent to £5,028 per hectare. The Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) outbid several prospective buyers, sealing the fate of this once-wild paradise. The numbers were cold, but their implications were profound.
The FLS hailed the purchase as the “golden piece” in Scotland’s woodland-creation puzzle. They envisioned a landscape where neighbouring properties collaborated, where tree-planting would flourish, and where net-zero goals would be met. But what about the red stags? What about the curlews and the rolling streams? Were they mere pieces in this grand puzzle?
As a photographer, I mourned the loss. The red stag carried off by the pony seemed like a poignant metaphor—an emblem of transition, of beauty slipping through our fingers. The management plan was yet to be created, but the echoes of hooves and haunting calls lingered. Could we not have found a balance—a way to nurture both trees and wildlife?
And so, the Glenprosen Estate changed hands. The red stag’s image remains etched in my memory, a testament to fleeting beauty. As I write this blog post, I wonder: Can we plant trees without uprooting our connection to the landscape?
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