Saturday, 24 November 2012

New Chief Executive for the Cairngorms National Park Authority

Congratulations to Grant Moir on his appointment as Chief Executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority; he will take up the post in March 2013.

I look forward to continuing to work with him as the Chief Executive of a member organisation but also to welcoming his successor as representative of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority on the Forum.

Additional coverage: The Scotsman

Changes to Snaring Legislation

Photo: Scottish Rural Network
See the Scottish Rural Network article that explains developments ahead of the implementation of legislation that will require unique identification tags to be be fitted to all snares from 1 April 2013.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Irish Peatland Conservation

Photo: IPCC

The scale of the Irish peatland challenge is revealed in The Irish Peatland Conservation Council's (IPCC) new action plan "Ireland’s Peatland Conservation Action Plan 2020".

The website has more detail but as a starter:

  • 269,267ha of peatlands are of conservation interest in Ireland. This represents 23% of the original peatland area in the country.
  • There are 736 peatland sites of conservation value in the Republic of Ireland and 138 peatland sites of conservation value in Northern Ireland.
  • 129 actions are needed to conserve our peatlands and return degraded and threatened peatlands to favourable conservation status.
Does this information provide lessons for us in Scotland?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Catchment Management & Payment for Ecosystem Services

This post does not have the snappiest of titles, but do not let this fool you. Payment for Ecosystem Services is a developing concept and could have far reaching implications for land management. If a financial return can be generated for producing public benefits in the form of Ecosystem Services this could provide another income stream for land managers.

At present it is largely the domain of the scientists, but practical projects are developing to apply this concept in the wild. South West Water is running a scheme on Exmoor, other water companies are active in Northern England.

To keep up-to-date, it is worth a quickRead of the briefing note produced by the Valuing Nature Network. This is based on the discussion that took place at a meeting in Leeds in January 2013 where I gave a presentation on land management issues.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Funding for peatland restoration

The Scottish Government has announced £1.7 million of funding for restoring Scotland's peatland landscape.

This is terrific news and is a sign that the message has been understood about the importance of peatland for carbon management, for agriculture, for biodiversity and sporting management.

The Moorland Forum's Peatland Working Group will be working with the Scottish Government, SNH, the IUCN UK Peatland Programme and other members of the Group, which extends beyond the Forum, to secure the best use for this funding.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Initiative for Carbon Accounting (ICARB)

The Initiative for Carbon Accounting (ICARB) is a group of academics, politicians and consultants working to create a set of transparent, consistent and accurate rules for Carbon Accounting.  See the ICARB website for more details of this rapidly expanding science.

ICARB aims to provide a forum for the development of a consensually agreed Language and Rule Book for Carbon Accounting that is relevant, complete, consistent, transparent and accurate and enables compatible approaches across sectors.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wildfire Prevention Seminars in the Cairngorms

The Heather Trust is working with Michael Bruce (Firebreak Services Ltd & Glen Tanar Estate) to run two seminars on Wildfire Prevention for the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).  The seminars, which will include a visit to nearby moorland, will take place on 13 November at the Gaskmore Hotel, Laggan, and on 22 November at Glen Tanar Estate.

Further details of the events, and how to apply for a place, are available in the flyers that can be downloaded from the CNPA website.   Although the seminars will be relevant to all parts of Scotland, and beyond, as these events are being funded through the Park, priority will be given to people from within the CNPA boundary.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bog hopping by Drone

Unmanned aerial vehicles are being flown over peatland sites in the Yorkshire Dales to collect data and  create a detailed picture of the extent and severity of peatland degradation.

This sounds like a cost-effective way to generate detailed mapping of large areas and avoid the high cost of aerial photography from a light aircraft.

See the article in The Northern Echo for more information.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Accounting for CO2 emissions from peatlands

Photo: Norrie Russell, RSPB
IUCN has urged the UK government to account for CO2 emissions from peatlands.  A decision has to be made now if peatland rewetting is to be included in the UK national greenhouse gas accounting for the next Kyoto Protocol commitment period 2013-2017.

Electing to account for Wetland Drainage and Rewetting in national climate change targets could give extra impetus for Government spend on peatland rewetting and could pave the way for business funding through carbon markets.

I recommend the IUCN briefing as a way of gaining understanding of what is proposed and there is more detail available in the longer briefing that is linked from the first document.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Flow to the Future project clears the first hurdle

The funding application for the Flow to the Future project is over the first hurdle and has passed the first stage of the application for Lottery funding.  Under the project, seven square miles of peatlands may be restored in Caithness.  for more details see the BBC news article and the article in The Scotsman.

This is excellent news and an important step forward for everyone with an interest in making more of Scotland's 3 billion tonnes of peat.  The Peatland Working Group of the Moorland Forum will be delighted to support this initiative.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Welcome to Scotland's Rural College

Photo: SAC
Good-bye SAC and welcome to Scotland's Rural College, formed by the merger of Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges and SAC.  The new college will "deliver comprehensive skills, education and business support for Scotland’s land-based industries, founded on world class and sector-leading research, education and consultancy".

See the website for more details.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Support for Peatland in the Scottish draft Budget 2013-2014

The Scottish Government published its draft budget for 2013-2014 last week and this includes specific mention of peatlands as a valuable part of Scotland’s economy.  Investment in peatland restoration has been identified as a priority, which will  bring benefits for water quality, biodiversity and climate change.  IUCN UK Peatland Programme Director, Clifton Bain welcomed the announcement as a positive move which will help the environment and save money by reducing the long term costs to society from damaged peatlands.

More information is available on the Scottish Government's website

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Windfarm Habitat Management presentation

I gave this presentation at the South Lanarkshire Biodiversity Partnership Conference today.

The proposal I made that greater advantage should be taken from the large and increasing area of land under Habitat Management Plans was echoed by several other speakers.

There was also an emphasis on peatland and carbon management from other speakers.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

GWCT Snare & Predator Control Training

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s advisory services will be hosting a series of bespoke snare training and other predator control best practice days throughout Scotland for those who manage the countryside.  More details

Monday, 17 September 2012

IUCN World Conservation Congress, Jeju, Korea

Follow this link to see an outcomes and priorities statement from the Peatland Restoration workshop that took place on 7 September as part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

It is clear from this that there is top level support for peatlands: Julia Marton Lefevre, Director General, IUCN said, “Peatland conservation is a prime example of a nature-based solution to climate change but we urgently need to switch from aspiration to action to secure the benefits that peatlands provide.”  Or in other words, we know what to do, lets see some action.  Hear, hear! 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

National Access Forum - Convenor

The National Access Forum in Scotland is looking for a new Convenor to replace Richard Cooke.  Deadline for nominations is 28 September.  Contact the Forum Secretary: Mark Wrightham, 01463 725316,

"Research in the Flow Country" conference: 23-25 October

The Environmental Research Institute is hosting a peatlands conference in Thurso 23-25 October - "Research in the Flow Country: Linking Science to Society".  More details are available on the website

I am disappointed that I cannot attend but in addition to learning about developments in peatland research, the conference offers an opportunity to visit the Flow Country.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Minister for Environment and Climate Change

The Forum would like to welcome Paul Wheelhouse MSP, as the Minister for Environment and Climate Change.  An invitation will be extended to the Minister to meet Forum members to learn about our work in the upland and moorland areas of Scotland at the earliest opportunity.

The Minister's biography can be viewed on the Scottish Government's website.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Cairngorms NPA Vacancy - Land Management Advisor

Land Management Adviser 
Full time (37.5 hours/week), permanent contract, based in Grantown-on-Spey.  Band D (£27,374 - £32,951)
The Cairngorms National Park Authority is looking for a Land Management Adviser to develop strong working relationships with farmers and land managers in the Park. This includes developing and co-ordinating a new programme of advice and support leading to SRDP (Scotland Rural Development Programme) uptake; facilitating further development of the Farmers Forum; and other initiatives to help land managers operate effectively. The successful applicant will have understanding and experience of land management activities in the National Park, as well as knowledge of SRDP.
For a detailed job description and application pack, or if you require any adjustments to be made to the application process due to disability, please contact Laura Grant on 01479 870500 or email closing date for receipt of completed applications is noon on Friday 14 September and interviews will be held on Monday 8 October.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Windfarms and Minerals: Exploring benefits for biodiversity and communities in South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire Biodiversity Partnership 2012 Conference and Funding Fair

When: 26th September 
Where: Hamilton Racecourse
Price: Free

The South Lanarkshire Biodiversity Partnership will be holding their second conference on 26 September at Hamilton Racecourse.  The event will be looking at renewable energy developments and how they can benefit both biodiversity and the communities that host them.

The development and implementation of habitat management plans has brought large areas of land under positive management for biodiversity and gives us a unique opportunity to implement ecosystem restoration and management at a landscape scale. Mineral restoration plans offer another avenue to secure gains for biodiversity when on-site operations are complete.
Many windfarm operators also contribute to community grant funds. These funds are available to community groups and offer further opportunities for the enhancement of biodiversity at a local level.
This conference aims to bring together windfarm and mineral site operators, ecologists, environmental organisations and community groups. The event will be split into two sessions, with delegates free to attend either session or come along for the full day.
The morning session will provide a forum for the sharing of experience in Habitat Management Plan development and implementation, learn from those who have experienced some of the problems of large scale habitat restoration and management and highlight examples of good practice at operational sites.
The afternoon session is especially geared towards local communities and volunteer groups. 
To attend please contact:  
Siân Williams, 
Biodiversity Officer, South Lanarkshire Council. 
Email: Tel: 01698 426213

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

New SCA Director appointed

The Countryside Alliance has announced that Jamie Stewart is to take up the role of Director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance in early September.
As Director Jamie's role will be diverse. He will liaise with politicians regarding legislation affecting rural Scotland, and his role will also include frontline membership, media, campaigning and fundraising work.
Jamie, who is originally from Argyll has worked for the Countryside Alliance for a year as a specialist shooting consultant and is MD of Westcountry Wildlife Services - a wildlife consultancy and training enterprise. Jamie is an experienced game and deer manager with a lifetime's experience of managing wildlife and habitat in the UK. Previously Jamie was Director South West England for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. His experience of rural life and business make him the ideal choice to lead and develop the Scottish Countryside Alliance.
Jamie commented: "I am delighted to be joining the Scottish Countryside Alliance and look forward to working with the team to promote and defend the beautiful Scottish Countryside. Rural Scotland and its people face many challenges from isolation to high fuel prices, poor broadband connectivity and various threats to our country sports. I look forward to working hard on our members' behalf and to meeting as many as possible as I get stuck into my new role. I will be working closely with our experienced political and campaigns teams in London to tailor campaigns specifically for Scottish interests and am also really looking forward to promoting rural businesses and produce through our popular and established Scottish Countryside Alliance Awards."

Friday, 3 August 2012

Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere - launch

I attended the launch by Richard Lochhead of the Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere at Culzean Castle, yesterday.  

The biosphere provides the area with a great opportunity, and I have offered support from the Forum for any initiatives that affect the large upland area that exists within the biosphere.  See the website for more information about the biosphere.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

JHI Debate: The Squeezed Middle - 30 Aug 12

Photo: JHI
I will be representing the Moorland Forum on the panel for this first debate in the series.  See the Heather Trust's blog.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Radical rethink on land reform underway

For details of the Scottish Government's announcement on 24 July 2012, see the Heather Trust's Blog.

SNH Conference: Managing Species in a Challenging Climate

22-23 (Thursday-Friday) November 2012, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Scotland's five year Species Action Framework (SAF) programme ended in March this year. This programme advanced conservation and management action for 32 of Scotland's species – including: beaver, red squirrel, sea eagle, capercaillie, freshwater pearl mussel, great yellow bumblebee, woolly willow and invasive non-native species such as North American signal crayfish.

SNH is holding a conference to highlight the results, pass on experiences and look ahead at what needs to be done. We will cover a wide range of activities spanning on-the-ground conservation, tackling species conflicts and invasive non-native species, and developing novel approaches to sustainable use and management.  See the flyer for more details.

The conference programme is available and Session 5 on Day 2 will be of particular interest to Forum members.  It will consider Conflicts and Sustainable Management with presentations by, amongst others: Steve Redpath, Des Thompson, Simon Lester (Langholm Headkeeper) and Susan Davies.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere

Photo: National Rural Network
Galloway and Southern Ayrshire has recently achieved international status as Scotland’s first UNESCO Biosphere and will now become part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which includes 598 Biospheres in 117 countries.  

For more details see the report published by the Scottish National Rural Network and the Biosphere website.

Peatland Conference: research in the Flow Country

This conference is being held in Thurso 23-25 October.  For further information see the website.  

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Irish Peat Problems

Photo: James Flynn, Irish Times
Almost 13 per cent of Ireland’s land cover is peatlands, some of it protected under the EU directives because of its ecological value.  Bord na Móna manages the harvesting of peat in Ireland but is increasingly involved in rehabilitation of peatland after extraction.  It manages 80,000 hectares of peatlands, of which some 60,000 hectares are of “severely degraded” status due to drainage and peat extraction.

An article in The Irish Times covers the launch of a report commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ireland, which shows that re-wetting cutaway bogs would provide climate, biodiversity, water and economic benefits.

The final report of the EPA-funded "Carbon Restore" project is available online.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Peatland Carbon Code

The Valuing Nature Network has issued a short News Release to highlight that the production of a Peatland Carbon Code has been identified in the Opportunities for Business Report prepared for the Ecosystem Taskforce as one of the top opportunities for UK business to value and protect nature's services.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Land Use Strategy - Presentations

The Scottish Government held an event on 27 June 2012 looking at delivery of the Land Use Strategy during its first year and the mainstreaming of the Principles for Sustainable Land Use into land use decision making.  The presentations from the day are available from the SG website.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Thinking CAP: Upland Research & Management

The Thinking CAP: Upland Research & Management meeting took place at the Huntingtower Hotel outside Perth in March.  The meeting considered the state of upland research, with input from the Upland Research Team of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, and then provided answers to a series of questions that considered the options that landowners and managers would like to see introduced as part of the review of the Scottish Rural Development Programme.  The questions were introduced by a range of experts.

The responses to the questions given during the discussion of the questions, and provided as written answers, have now been summarised in a report that can be downloaded from the News page of the Forum's website.  Additional information about the meeting can also be found on the same page.

Thanks go to the sponsors of the meeting: Turcan Connell, PDG helicopters, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Deer and Forestry

Moorland Forum member organisations were in action on BBC's Countryfile last night.

Peter Fraser for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association was interviewed about stalking (starting at 06:50) and later in the programme (starting at 18:45) David Frew, Property Manager, and Sir Kenneth Calman, Chairman, from the National Trust for Scotland were interviewed about woodland regeneration and deer management on the Mar Lodge Estate.

The deer vs woodland debate is very relevant to the Forum with the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group due to report to the Scottish Government in June, this year.  Can natural woodland regeneration and deer control take place without full fencing?  Is the strategic fencing, that is fencing that does not form an enclosure, being proposed at Mar Lodge a compromise solution?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Funding for Black Grouse in LL&T National Park

Photo: Forestry Commission
A funding package worth £720,000 has been announced to stabilise and increase Black grouse numbers in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.  Grant Moir, a member of the Forum, is quoted in the BBC News article.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Scotland: Black Grouse population increasing

Photo: Ian Rutherford
See the article in today's edition of The Scotsman that describes how the population increase has been as high as 70% in the Borders with the birds doing well in other parts of Scotland.  Excellent!

The article includes quotes from Forum members: Duncan Orr-Ewing and Adam Smith.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Moorland Forum - 10th Anniversary Meeting

The Moorland Forum's meeting that took place yesterday, was 10 years to the day after the launch of the Forum at Hopetoun House in 2002.  An excellent gathering of guests and Chairman, Chief Executives and representatives of the Forum's member organisations heard an address by the Minister for Environment & Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, MSP.  This was followed by views of the development of the Forum and the opportunities that are available in the future, from Colin Galbraith, who was instrumental in setting up the Forum, Stuart Housden (Director, RSPB Scotland) and Luke Borwick (Chairman, Scottish Land & Estates).

A press release from the meeting is available from the website and photographs can be viewed separately.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

SNH: Wildlife Management Survey - more information

SNH has commissioned Why Research to carry out some research to help the organisation gain a better understanding of wildlife management issues in Scotland, which remain hugely topical.

SNH now has many, and an increased number, of responsibilities in relation to wildlife management, including new roles on Deer and licensing, providing information on best practice, invasive non-native animals and species introductions. It is important that SNH provides a service that best meets the needs of its customers.

This survey is about determining understanding and awareness of SNH's roles and views on the services they provide. It is primarily aimed at individuals and organisations with a direct interest or involvement in wildlife management activities. This could include, for example, gamekeepers, farmers, stalkers and recreational shooters and their representative organisations, as well as national conservation bodies and their members.

As well as a survey, the work will involve a series of focus groups amongst members of these bodies.
The findings will also help SNH test and report to the Scottish Parliament on how successful the merger with the Deer Commission for Scotland in 2010 is judged to have been.

The survey will be live between 5-19 March 2012.  The survey can be accessed at

More information from: Sue Granville, Director, Why Research.