Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod officially launched the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project on Friday.
Dr McLeod said: “Golden eagles are truly magnificent birds and it is very exciting that the South of Scotland could potentially support more than a dozen pairs.
“This new project at Langholm Moor is a great opportunity to re-establish this species in this area along with all the environmental and economic benefits that brings.”
The project comes from a joint initiative between Scottish Land & Estates and RSPB Scotland who came together in the summer of 2008 to produce a proposal with the aim of trying to understand what was limiting the golden eagle population in the South of Scotland.
This resulted last year in a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) called ‘Golden Eagles in the South of Scotland: an overview’.
It found that Southern Scotland could potentially support up to 11 to 13 pairs of golden eagles.
At present, there are no more than two to four pairs of golden eagles in Southern Scotland, with limited nesting success.
South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project chairman Mark Oddy said: “A revived population of golden eagles offers wonderful opportunities for tourism and wider benefits for the south of Scotland.
“And, of course, it would be thrilling to see more golden eagles in this wonderful part of Scotland.”
The new project is being managed by Dr Cat Barlow and a new project team has now been formed.
The team will focus on further assessing the viability of the golden eagle population, and identifying areas or sites and management measures which could benefit the birds.
Guided by the National Species Reintroduction Code, the team will undertake a formal assessment of habitat and other management measures to reinforce the population.
Roy Dennis, a world expert on raptor reintroductions and a member of the National Species Reintroduction Forum for Scotland, said: “Golden eagle recovery in southern Scotland is an essential part of large ecosystem restoration and I congratulate the Minister on this exciting and important initiative, and I wish the project all success.”