Wednesday, 27 March 2013

IUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference Sept 2013

Abundance of Scottish Terrestrial Breeding Birds

Photo: Patrick Laurie
Reprinted from a Statistical News Release circulated by SNH.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has today released the latest figures tracking the abundance of Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds 1994 - 2011.

Over the long term, the abundance of terrestrial breeding birds increased by 11% from 1994 to 2011 (using the smoothed indices – see note 2). Farmland and woodland birds have increased (by 12% and 44% respectively) and upland birds have decreased by 11%.

Between 2010 and 2011, the main findings show that the abundance of all-species, woodland, and farmland terrestrial breeding birds were unchanged overall. However, the upland bird index decreased by 8%. The reasons for changes are not known for certain. Some evidence points towards land use changes as a possible cause. The recent harsh winters in 2009 and 2010 may have also had an effect on some of our resident birds such as wrens and robins.

Notes for editors
1. The full statistical publication can be accessed at:
2. Smoothed indices are a statistical way of removing the year to year fluctuations that naturally appear, for example because of weather conditions or sampling
variations, to allow the underlying trend to be more easily seen.
3. The data used in the report primarily come from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds (RSPB) Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) ( )
4. Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
5. Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and
enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also now on Twitter
6. Trend notes can be found at

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Muirburn Code Review

Representatives of the Muirburn Group met on 21 March to review the feedback provided as part of the Critique Phase of the review of the Code. I am grateful for the wealth of ideas that have been provided, and a useful discussion took place, during the meeting.

The proposals will now be worked up into draft recommendations to be submitted to the Scottish Government, and these will allow the review process to be developed. The aim is to submit the final version of the report at the end of April, or as soon after this as possible.

There is plenty of opportunity for input to the process from anyone who has not yet been able to do so.  I would welcome comments in any form, at any stage.

I will add information to this blog as the review process develops.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Director's Update

It has been a busy few days preparing the feedback report to the critique phase of the Muirburn Code review.  I have also drafted the report for SEPA as part of the commissioned work to "Evaluate measures and policy mechanisms to protect peatland".

Both these reports will be discussed at meetings in Dunblane on Thursday, 21 March, and the discussion will contribute to the development of the reports into a form that can be submitted.  Thanks to all who have contributed to drafting these reports and to those who are attending the meetings on Thursday.  There is plenty of work still to be done!

The funding of the Forum through the grant from SNH ends on 31 March and I have to prepare the final claim, this week.  Hopefully the Service Level Agreement approach that follows will be less bureaucratic.

I have circulated a 'save the day' note to members who will be invited to the next Chairman's Working Group meeting.  The date of this meeting has been changed to 10 May to match the Chairman's availability.

I am waiting for more details about the Research Exchange meeting that SRUC / JHI are organising in May, and we will circulate details as soon as we get them.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Moorland Forum - Commissioned Work

The portfolio of commissioned work is taking shape and this includes work for: Scottish Water, SEPA, SNH, Forest Enterprise, Scottish Government (Muirburn Code Review and Land Use strategy).  There is more potential work in the pipeline.

Having developed the portfolio we are now moving to the delivery stage.

I am working on the feedback received as part of the Critique Phase to the Muirburn Code Review. The results of my efforts will be circulated as a draft report on Monday, 18 March and this will be discussed at a meeting of the Muirburn Group on 21 March.

A draft report is being prepared, with input from GWCT, Scottish Land & Estates, Pareto Consulting and the IUCN Peatland Programme. This will be discussed at a second meeting to be held on 21 March.

A peatland meeting is being prepared for Scottish Water personnel and this will be held at Glen Turret, near Crieff on 3 April with external input from: Crichton Carbon Centre, Penny Anderson Associates, Dinsdale Moorland Services.

Members of the Forum have been asked to provide information of the land management events they are planning in 2013 and also ideas for the sort of events that the Forum could run or support to assist SNH with its objectives for sharing good practice with land managers.

I am grateful for the support from members of the Forum with these initiatives to date, and I hope that this effort will raise the impact that we can have as a Forum. The big difference is that there is funding attached to this work, which means that while members may not receive payment at a commercial rate, they are not being expected to provide this support for nothing.

Welcome to Confor

Following the application for membership considered at the last meeting of the Forum on 15 February, Confor, represented by Jamie Farquhar, has joined the Forum.   The presentation given at the meeting can be viewed here.

The membership of Confor is a recognition of the Forum's increasing interest in forestry issues that includes the planned woodland expansion and also the importance of montane scrub.

Description from the website - Confor: promoting forestry and wood is a membership organisation that promotes sustainable forestry and low-carbon businesses. Confor represents and supports members by helping build the market for wood and forest products, creating a supportive policy environment, and helping members to become more competitive and successful.

Our numbers remain at 30 member organisations as the Moorland Group and Scottish Land & estates have decided to amalgamate into a single membership.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Focus on the Access Forum

The Access Forum met on 5 March 2013 and their secretary, Mark Wrightham, has published an update based on the discussion at the meeting. This can be downloaded here.

The Access Forum has a section on the Outdoor Access website and this contains more details about the discussions that the Forum is involved with.  John Thomson, formerly of SNH, took over as the Convenor, last year.

Although we have several members in common, I keep in touch with the Access Forum's activities to look for any issues of mutual interest for the Moorland Forum.

I am keen to maintain good links with the Access Forum, as with other fora, as there must be benefits from working together. Strengthening our links to other groups is one of the benefits I hope will come out of the work I am hoping to carry out for the Scottish Government to identify all the groups and fora that feed into the Environment and Forestry Directorate.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Muirburn Code Review - Critique Phase ending

People with an interest in muirburn have been contacted and invited to contribute to the critique phase of the review.  They are reminded that their feedback has been requested by 8 March.

The Scottish Government has commissioned Scotland's Moorland Forum to start work on a review of the Muirburn Code. The first phase of this is a critique phase that includes the existing Code but also provides and opportunity to contribute to the development of the format of the revised Code and topics to be covered by it.

The feedback received in response to the invitation will be collated into a report that will be discussed and then forwarded to the Scottish Government. When the review process has been agreed, instructions will be issued to the Forum. 

The intention is that the new Code will be in place for the 2014-2015 muirburn season.