Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Scottish Wildfire Forum - there is life

Photo: Andy Law
I took part in the pre-meeting discussion with the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS), this morning.  The Scottish Wildfire Forum was resting during the lead up to the formation of the SFRS on 1 April.  Two days later, the SFRS was embroiled in a series of  major wildfire incidents, principally in north west Scotland.  These incidents served as a wake up call, if one were needed, about the importance of planning for wildfire, and this has given impetus to discussions about the size and shape required for a revitalised Wildfire Forum.

Something good will come from this, and I believe that the revised SWF will be better able to support the need to prepare for wildfire.  I hold the view that planning for wildfire will reduce the risks to life and the risk of disruption to communities, businesses and the environment close to wildfires.

A Wildfire Manual has been prepared and will be published soon.  Although this is an operational guidance for the SFRS, it will provide soon-off documents that will provide wider benefits.  It is possible that the Wildfire Manual will be formally launched at the Wildfire 2013 conference that is being held in South Wales 22-23 October 2013.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Update from the National Access Forum

The National Access Forum publishes reports and updates on its activity on the Forum's website.  The latest update is dated 22 May 2013 and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in access issues, and perhaps we should all have such an interest.

We share several members with the National Access Forum, but even so I believe that all the multiple Forums in Scotland tend to operate in silos.  When there is an opportunity, I intend to address this for the Moorland Forum by following up on Bob McIntosh's invitation to develop a 'compendium' of all the groups that feed into his Environment & Forestry directorate.  Perhaps we would all benefit from better communication between groups - at present, I wonder who, if anyone, has an overview of all activity.

Capercaillie vs Pine Marten

An article in The Scotsman highlights concerns about the future of Capercaillie that are resulting in contrasting views on what action to take.   GWCT monitoring indicates that the 'species is in rapid and ongoing decline' while the pine marten population has increased.  Opinion about what to do varies between: catch up pine martens during the capercaillie breeding season and release them later in the year, catch up and translocate them, provide diversionary food dumps, or flood Scotland with imported birds from Scandinavia to saturate the pine marten need.

Is this a case where a decision needs to be made to do something on the basis that some action must be better than none?  I fear there is a danger that contrasting views will produce inaction, which will mean that all the effort will end up just overseeing the demise of Capercaillie.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Land Use Strategy Progress Statement 2013

From the SG website:

"The second Land Use Strategy Progress Statement 2013 sets out how the Proposals in the Land Use Strategy Action Plan are being taken forward and how the ten Principles for Sustainable Land Use are being embedded in land use decision making.

"It covers the period June 2012 to June 2013. Progress has been made in the delivery of all elements of the Land Use Strategy including establishing two regional land use pilots, evaluating progress with mainstreaming the Principles and developing a set of ten indicators to measure progress with the delilvery of the Strategy's three Objectives."

The full report can be downloaded.