Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is the chairman of the SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, at the end of a long two days, Alan provides an update on progress.

Our two-day hearing has come to a close.

Our final session ranged over policy issues. We had a lively hearing involving Bob McIntosh, Director of the Scottish Government’s Environment and Forestry Directorate, Duncan Orr-Ewing of the RSPB, Maggie Keegan of the SWT, and Andrew Midgley of Scottish Land Estates.

The Land Use Strategy and the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy featured prominently. We explored in detail the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable moorland landscapes. A lot of our discussion centred on the role of a national vision for moorland and regional strategies supporting this.

Now we begin work on our report, which we shall draft by the end of February. 

Meanwhile, I must thank my colleagues for supporting the review, and the many people who attended the hearing for so enthusiastically participating in our conversations. We have also received some excellent written evidence which helps us greatly.

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is chairing a SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, in his second guest blog, Alan provides an update on progress.

We are now well into our hearing on sustainable moorland management.

Yesterday was fascinating. We heard evidence from SNH staff, which highlighted the huge breadth of issues they deal with under the umbrella of ‘moorlands’. We have some strong lines of evidence on wildlife and habitat changes derived from SNHs Site Condition Monitoring, and available on SEWeb.

We then heard from a trio of professors working on water management and geodiversity. We discussed the EMBER project, a number of issues relating to flood management, and heard about growing interest in the ‘roughness’ of upland landscapes in determining water run-off. 

We then moved into economic and amenity issues and heard from representatives of crofting and recreation interests as well as experienced economists and land-use experts. As we ranged over the many values of moorland we were challenged to tease apart views, perceptions and evidence (the term ‘co-production of evidence’ popped into conversation!). So many people, even experts, have hard views about what works well and badly across moorland Scotland, yet the evidence base underpinning this is incredibly patchy and disparate.

We worked late and tried to pull together the threads of much of what we heard, and have read.

This morning, we started with a session on biodiversity, with lively contributions from Professors Steve Redpath and Davy McCracken, both vastly experienced and steeped in the complexities of land use change, conservation and management. A lot of science came to the fore here, and we heard a strong case for more experimental work, and possibly a large experiment on land management practices and impacts. We also heard a lot about the value of a range of evidence types – not just from scientists, but from the wider range of stakeholders connected with the uplands.

We have just finished a session on moorland management practices, with experts from the Heather Trust, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Association of Deer Management Groups, and the renewable energy sector. This was a wide ranging session, with a lot of discussion centring on grouse moor management, the land restoration measures and cooperative approaches to management. These are complex issues, and one issue emerging very clearly is the great range of management objectives, some of which operate at the local landholding level, whereas others cover vast landscapes. Indeed, several people have commented we don’t really have a clear or shared vision for moorlands. We recently saw a public consultation on a national plan for Scotland’s peatlands, and we have a good deal to learn from that.

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is the chairman of a SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, Alan provides a guest blog to provide some background to the review.

Today is the first of two days spent gathering evidence on sustainable moorland management. I am chairing the SNH Scientific Advisory Committee  (SAC) review  group reviewing this topic, and we have invited views from more than 20 specialists and advisers drawn from research bodies, government, agencies, land managers and NGOs.  Meeting in Edinburgh, we are looking forward to lively exchanges to tease out what we know, and what we don’t.  Of course we would like to have invited many more, but we have had to be selective.

We are looking to develop our understanding of management, which sustains the fullest range of moorland natural heritage features across Scotland, and which supports ecologically and economically healthy ecosystems.

Periodically, questions are asked about the impacts of sheep and deer grazing, muirburn,  heather cutting, predator control and a range of other management practices on moorlands.  Answers differ depending on whether your interests lie with soils, water, wildlife, economic interests or wider environmental and cultural aspects.  As part of our review, we are trying to identify the management which supports healthy  nature as well as healthy economics.  It is quite a challenge!

In carrying out this review we want to contribute to work underway under the Land Use Strategy (LUS)  and Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS) , as well as work reviewed under the IUCN Peatland Programme .   Other important sources of information are to be found on Scotland’s Moorland Forum website  and  as a result of Natural England’s recently completed first phase of a review of the evidence base on the management of the English uplands.  We have already pulled together a lot of information, and have received very helpful submissions.

Beyond the hearing, we shall draft our report and submit it to the SAC for its meeting on 5th March. The report will then be presented to the SNH Board.

My colleagues on the review group are: Professor Robin Pakeman (James Hutton Institute), Dr Colin Shedden (BASC), Dr Adam Smith (GWCT) and Professor Jeremy Wilson (RSPB). The Secretary is Karen Rentoul, supported by Professor Des Thompson (SNH).

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Monday, 15 December 2014

Peatland action - Demonstration Sites

I met Andrew McBride (Peatland Action Project Manager) in Battleby, today to discuss further development of proposals to establish a suite of demonstration sites across Scotland as part of the Peatland Action (PA) project.

These sites will be on land where work funded by the PA project has been carried out, and the aim will be to establish sites that represent different types of peatland in different conditions.

The initial idea we discussed was to use the sites for events to allow people to visit and find out at first hand what peatland management involved. They would also learn about the impact of the work on other enterprises.  However, the sites could be used in many different ways and I will be exploring other possible uses, as well as the demonstration concept, in the further proposals I produce on behalf of the Forum in January.

I would welcome input from any Forum member who has a view about this work.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A briefing from the Peatland Conference 2014

A grip block in operation 
This briefing will be presented at the Moorland Forum meeting on 31 October 2014

The conference was held in Inverness, 20-22 October 2014, and was the sixth in an annual series of conferences organised by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme the main funder of this year's conference was the Peatland Action project.This briefing provides some highlights for the information of Moorland Forum members.

The conference is very academic in nature, and does not attract many other stakeholders. Arguably, it is not a format that will appeal to the owners and managers of land, and rather than adapt the format for future conferences, it would be better to develop an alternative way to engage with other interest groups.

The proposal to establish a form of demonstration sites has been proposed by the Peatland Steering Group, and this is an issue that was returned to several times during the presentations given as part of the conference. On behalf of the Moorland Forum, I have been asked to look at the options and to consider how a proposal could be prepared.

Our knowledge of peatlands has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the IUCN programme has been at the heart of this development. There are many initiatives and to anyone not involved with peatland issues on a day-to-day basis, the different initiatives can become rather confusing. We will be hearing about the National Peatland Plan, the Peatland Code and Peatland Action during the meeting on 31 October, but I think it will be an important part of the National Peatland Plan to establish a Peatland Group that will bring all the different threads together.

All this increasing knowledge will be of little value until we can develop a delivery structure to apply the knowledge for the benefit of peatland. Peatland Action has achieved great things in a very short space of time, but the money dries up to a large extent, next year, and thereafter it will not be to make progress by providing large grants to NGOs and agencies. More work will need to be done with the private owners and managers of peatland and this is a change we need to start planning for. I believe that the demonstration site concept is the best way to provide this engagement in different parts of Scotland, while providing a platform for applied research that will further increase our knowledge.

I believe that this is an involved, but important, topic, that the Forum should maintain close contact with.

Muirburn on Deep Peat: a view from England

Bog-Athon in progress
This briefing will be presented to Moorland Forum members on 31 October 2014.

Burning on deep peat has been a topic that has attracted a lot of activity in England during 2014. As the chairman of the Best Practice Burning Group, I was involved in back-to-back visits to three moors in northern England.

The flurry of activity was sparked off by the Evidence to Advice phase of Natural England’s Upland Evidence Review. As a way to ease the tensions coming out of this process, and to allow Natural England to make progress with their review, what has become known as the bog-athon was set up. A working group from the main Burning Group visited three areas of deep peat in Northern England on successive days. This was pretty intensive, but the intensity allowed participants to drill down into areas of discussion that had eluded us at other times.

I was joined on the working group by representatives from Natural England, RSPB, Moorland Association, Yorkshire Water and a landowner / farmer. In addition, the gamekeepers, landowners and NE Area Staff with an interest in the moor joined each visit to provide local input. The visits took place on Raby Estate, Upper Teesdale; Keighley Moor, Yorkshire; and the High Peak in the Peak District. These moors represented a good range of habitats and management objectives that allowed the working group to start to develop an approach that would work to deliver multiple objectives, if applied to other peatland.

I was heartened by the amount of consensus that came out of this process and included the following points:
  • There should be no intention by Natural England to ban burning on deep peat; burning should continue to be available as an important tool.
  • There is a need to adapt the way that burning on deep peat is approached; more sensitive use of fire could be beneficial to all interests.
  • More sphagnum moss should be encouraged.
  • Landowners and managers have the ability to innovate and produce the desired outcomes. 
  • Further discussion needs to look forward; chewing over old bones will not be productive.
This is all a big improvement from the loggerheads position that had been reached within the burning group.  The problems have not gone away but considerable progress was made through establishing dialogue. The approach may be something to consider in Scotland.

Bracken Control - Briefing

Aerial application in progress
This briefing will be presented to the Moorland Forum during the meeting on 31 October.

Following the ending of the approval to use Asulam for bracken control on 31 December 2012, arrangements have been put in place each year to allow asulam to be available for bracken control under the terms of an Emergency Authorisation (EA) granted by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health & Safety Executive (CRD).

A Bracken Control Group was established in 2012 to promote the control of bracken by any means, but also to oversee the application for an EA. The Heather Trust coordinates this Group. The continued availability of Asulam for bracken control cannot be guaranteed, but the Bracken Control Group is working with all parts of the bracken control community to promote the importance of being able to control this invasive species.

The long-term aim is to achieve the registration of Asulam for bracken control under the latest EU regulations. Registration is an expensive process that requires an investment of many £100,000s, and it takes a long time. The application has been submitted, but a response from the EU is not expected until December 2016. Therefore, to maintain the availability of asulam, EAs will be required up to and including 2017. To date, no concerns have been expressed by the regulators to approving this number of authorisations.

As part of the review of asulam carried out by CRD, the previous uses of asulam were investigated. It had been common practice to use small doses of asulam at high concentrations for follow-up treatment, and this could be applied by a spot gun or even a knapsack sprayer. However, there was not enough data available to prove that this approach did not exceed operator exposure thresholds. Also, it became apparent that some of the recognised asulam application techniques, such as the use of a drift sprayer, or a weed-wiper had not been fully assessed. As a result of this, approval for follow-up treatment under the EAs has only been given for hand-held equipment when using Asulam at low concentrations, and the two application techniques have not been included in the EA approvals. The Bracken Control Group is working with the industry to investigate better methods for follow-up treatment that could be approved by CRD.

The Bracken Control Group has a website ( that provides more detail of the current state of bracken control. A newsletter is published, which has a sign up option for anyone wanting to know more about any developments that affect bracken control. The EA for 2015 has been applied for, and it is hoped to be able to announce the result of the application soon.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Heather Beetle Briefing

Adult heather beetle
This briefing will be presented at the Moorland Forum meeting on 31 October 2014.

In response to the large amount of concern about the threat that heather beetle could pose to the continuation of heather cover, the Heather Trust set up a UK-wide survey of heather beetle outbreaks in 2006 and has run this survey from its own resources, ever since.  It cannot be a complete record, but the survey is providing an indication of the geographical range and extent of heather beetle damage.
There remains a widely held belief that heather beetle is a self-correcting problem. This can be the case when there is a minor outbreak, in young heather, on dry heath, where there is little competition from other species. Where this is not the case, the Trust believes that a heather beetle attack can result in permanent vegetation change to a monoculture of coarse grasses.

Members of the Moorland Forum members are encouraged to publicise concerns about heather beetle and to promote the heather beetle survey to anyone with an interest in heather moorland, even if only as a visitor.  Without a record of the impact of heather beetle, it is very difficult to build a case for the research that is required to improve our understanding of the beetle. The aim is to improve the knowledge of the beetle to a point where it would be possible to start to predict when an outbreak will take place and advise on how to avoid it, or at least minimise its impact.
As a separate issue, The Heather Trust is investigating the best way to regenerate heather cover after a beetle attack. The Trust is running trials on Langholm Moor and on two moors in the Peak District. In all these areas, heather beetle extensively damaged the heather during an attack before the restoration trial started. Different restoration techniques have been applied to different plots: cutting, burning and spray-burn-reseed; a fourth plot has had not treatment and is acting as a control. The Langholm project will report in 2015 and the Peak District in 2018. The aim of this work is to quantify the benefits of different approaches to restoration on different types of heather moorland.

The Priority Issue section of the Heather Trust's web site contains more information and the Heather Beetle Survey form can be downloaded.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

IUCN UK Peatland Conference

Monday October 20th - Wednesday October 22nd 2014 at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, Scotland

Thursday, 11 September 2014

National Peatland Plan Consultation

The consultation on the National Peatland Plan closes on 12 September and members of the Forum are encouraged to respond to the consultation.

As I contributed to the development of the Plan, I will not be commenting on it, either on behalf of the Forum or The Heather Trust.

For those struggling with the deadline, there may be some flexibility but I suggest you contact SNH if you plan to submit a late response.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Peatland ACTION – final call for restoration applications

Announcement from the Peatland ACTION project:

The last round of Scottish Natural Heritage’s Peatland ACTION project is now open for grant applications, with a closing date of:

1st September 2014.

Potential applicants are reminded that restoration ground-work MUST be completed by 15 March 2015 at the latest. Given the tight time-scale for completion of works, combined with the approaching autumn-winter weather and reduced daylight, potential applicants need to be mindful of the challenges posed. Please be realistic about the type and scale of work that is feasible. We will not fund projects that can’t guarantee completion by this date.

To help you in planning, beyond the closing date, it can take 6 to 8 weeks before formal approval is received. You will not be able to start the work before you receive any formal grant offer we might make.

For guidance, we would welcome applications from those who are confident that they can complete a restoration project in this time period. It will help us if you can submit you application before the 1st September deadline, where possible. This will allow us to process applications and follow up any queries we might have sooner.

Further information for applicants can be found on the project webpage ‘information for applicants.’ This includes standard information on eligibility, application forms and guidance on how to apply.

Types of projects we suggest are feasible in this short timescale are:
  • Shovel ready projects
  • Ditch blocking
  • Scrub removal
  • Tree felling – only where felling licences are in place 
  • Peatland restoration feasibility
  • Restoration plans
  • Peat depth and hydrological surveys
  1. Where trees or materials are removed for sale, you will need to provide detailed information on costs and income. Any profit will offset the amount of grant offered.
  2. Do not include projects that require fencing or stock bridges.

Next steps

If you plan to submit an application, could you please register with Peatland ACTION by email (below), providing:
  • Name of the project
  • Likely level of funding to be requested and expected project cost
  • Simple description of the type of work involved e.g. ditch blocking and scrub removal

Help and advice

If you want to discuss your application with a member of the Peatland ACTION team, please

Future funding

Beyond March 2015, the SRDP will be the main source of funding to maintain and restore peatlands. For those who have applied for Peatland Action funds in the June round we will be contacting you in the next few days

Andrew McBride
Peatland Action Project Manager

IUCN Annual Conference 20-22 October - Registration open

Peatland Action: Learning from Success 
IUCN Peatland Programme Annual Conference, October 2014


See the IUCN website for details of the conference and information about how to book.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Survey of Landowners in Cairngorms National Park

The CNPA commissioned an independent study in 2013 and the report has been published today.  A news item introduces the report and provides links to view it.

The work was carried out by SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), UHI Centre for Mountain Studies and Rural Solutions, with support from Scottish Land & Estates.

In addition to the general economic information being collated in a national survey commissioned by Scottish Land & Estates, CNPA wanted to collate information on community development and conservation within the Park.  The Authority also wanted to identify future opportunities for collaboration to help deliver the National Park Partnership Plan.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

£4m for Peat Bog Restoration in the Flow Country

Photo: Andy Hay / RSPB Images
See the article on the BBC News website for full details, but this represents a major funding boost for peatland restoration in the Flow Country and will work alongside the £15m of funding being provided by the Scottish Government for the Peatland ACTION project.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Rural Scotland in Focus 2014 Report

The third Rural Scotland in Focus 2014 (RSiF 2014) Report has been published today by SRUC.  Previous reports were published in 2010 and 2012.  The report of the summary can be downloaded from the SRUC website.

The Report continues to monitor how rural Scotland is changing, focusing on: population trends, the lives of young people, the levels and experiences of poverty and disadvantage and how use of our finite rural land resource is negotiated through planning and other means.

Key Policy Messages from the 2014 Report
  • At a time of economic constraint there is an increased need for rural perspectives to be brought to national issues. 
  • This is a particularly timely moment to ensure that this happens since this year we are seeing the further development of the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), National Planning Framework (NPF3), Land Use Strategy and its regional pilots, Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, National Marine Plan, Land Reform Review, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform (including changes to ‘Pillar 1’ and ‘Pillar 2’, the Scotland Rural Development Programme encompassing LEADER) and the first meeting of the Scottish Rural Parliament. 
  • It is vitally important that the needs of people and communities are taken into account and integrated effectively with the need to manage natural resources sustainably. The national policy context provides a very important driver for putting people at the centre, given its growing emphasis on community empowerment, capacity building and community ownership of land and other assets. 
  • In our RSiF Reports we are not arguing that rural should be privileged over urban. Rather, that the evidence shows that the design and deployment of policies and practices must be ‘tailored’ to the local specifics of rural Scotland. 
  • The evidence leads us to conclude that there should be an over-arching, comprehensive vision and strategy for rural Scotland, aligned with and supporting the delivery of the National Outcomes. Such a strategy will allow for rural needs to be recognised and addressed, and support the development of further resilience and vibrancy across rural Scotland. 

For more information on the work of SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre, contact: Dr Jane Atterton, Manager and Policy Researcher, Rural Policy Centre, SRUC, T: 0131 535 4256;

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Evaluation of Measures and Policy Mechanisms to Protect Peatland

This report was commissioned by SEPA, last year, and was produced by members of the Forum and special guests.  The report also draws on a workshop that was held last year to capture input from a wider range of stakeholders.

The report contains an overview of how peatlands were viewed last year from policy and practitioner viewpoints and how the CAP review was likely to influence peatland management.

The rate of change in peatland issues is high and since this report was drafted, there have been many developments and it would be interesting to revise this report to incorporate the latest developments and thinking.  One of the biggest changes has been the development of the Peatland ACTION project and the higher level of funding provided by the Scottish Government that this report anticipates.

It was a useful exercise for the Forum and it demonstrates our ability to capture thinking from outside the Forum and deliver a valuable report.  This report has taken too long to finalise, but it had to compete for attention with other pieces of commissioned work.  The sequel would be even more valuable and it would be easier to produce.  I hope that SEPA will consider commissioning this.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Annual Land Use Strategy Stakeholder Event - 27 May 2014

The Scottish Government will host its annual stakeholder event to engage stakeholders on the Land Use Strategy.  Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, Minister for Environment & Climate Change will make the keynote address.

This year’s all-day event will take place at SNH Battleby, just outside Perth on 27 May 2014. Discussion topics will include the progress of the Regional Land Use Framework pilot projects in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders, as well as the development of the next Land Use Strategy.

If you would like more information about this event, note your interest by sending an e-mail with contact details to the Land Use Strategy Team - deadline 11 April 2014.  This will record your interest only. A detailed programme of the event along with information on how to register will be sent in mid-April, when registration opens.

Further information about the Land Use Strategy from the SG website.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The John Muir Conference: 12-13 May 2014

This conference marks the centenary of John Muir's death.  The conference is about the challenges and opportunities of managing protected areas in the 21st century - the excellent range of speakers are expected to really examine and challenge current practices! 

Part of the Conference programme includes study visits to see and hear first-hand how the challenges of balancing the protection of the natural heritage with economic development and facilitating high visitor numbers are being tackled. There is something for everyone as the tours cover a range of projects from landscape-scale habitat restoration, to renewable energy generation, to innovative visitor management.

The Conference will be of particular interest to land, conservation and visitor management professionals operating in protected or sensitive landscapes across the UK. 

Those watching budgets or who are hooked into the 'Tesco shopping' culture might want to note the current‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ offer!

More details

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Wildfire in Scotland - being taken seriously

The appointment of a Wildfire Project Manager by the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) is very welcome.  Group Manager Garry Burnett is an old friend as he had been involved with the Scottish Wildfire Forum (SWF) in its early days.

This appointment was reported in today's edition of the P&J and also Highland News.

Garry will be working directly to Assistant Chief Officer Robert Scott who is the Chairman of the SWF.  This appointment is a clear and very welcome statement of intent by the SFRS to treat the threat posed by wildfire seriously.  We have some distance to travel to provide a focus on wildfire prevention and to bring muirburn issues together with wildfire but this appointment will help us move faster in the right direction.

In my role as Vice-chairman of the England & Wales Wildfire Forum (EWWF), as well as being on the Executive Committee of the SWF, I will be seeking a more integrated approach to wildfire north and south of the border.  There are many potential benefits of closer working.  Another important group to bring into this arena is the Chief Fire Officer's Association Wildfire Group.  This is made easier as the chairman of this Group is Paul Hedley, the Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service, who is also a leading light of the the EWWF.

It is a world that is full of acronyms, and there are many hurdles to be jumped, but the threat from wildfire must be given a higher profile before we are forced to pay more attention by the next spate of wildfires.  It is not 'if', it is 'when'.

Well done to the SFRS for grasping this issue so positively.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

General Licences - restrictions in Scotland

General Licences is a topic that is easily overlooked but their profile has been raised by recent events in Scotland.

See the post on The Heather Trust's blog for more details and links.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Nature of Scotland Awards - Nominations

The Nature of Scotland Awards 2014 are now open for entries! Celebrating excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation, nominations are welcomed across eight categories:

Marine Conservation; Sustainable Development; Politician of the Year; Innovation; Outstanding Contribution; RSPB Species Champion; Community Initiative; Youth and Education.
If you know of an organisation, group or individual who has made a unique contribution to Scottish nature conservation, then the RSPB wants to hear from you.

To make your nomination visit where you can download an entry form and find out more about the awards. The awards are free to enter and all applications must be submitted online.  The deadline for submissions is 30 May 2014.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Highlights from the Moorland Forum Meeting - 28 February 2014

Thank you to those who were able to be with us for the Forum meeting at Oatridge College, on Friday.

The meeting covered a lot of ground and in advance of the Minutes, I am circulating some highlights as a reminder to those who were there and to give a quick overview of the key points to those who could not attend.  (Meeting Papers)

Opportunities to support the Forum’s work are highlighted in green, and places where action is required in red.

  • SCA Routes 2 Rural Employment – Jamie Stewart
    • This appears to be a good fit with the Forum’s aspiration to have some input in this area.
    • We agreed that the Forum will support this initiative. 
  • LUS Borders Pilot update
    • The current 6-month stakeholder engagement phase finishes at the end of May 2014.
    • The report from the Pilot will be completed by the end of March 2015.
    • We will keep in touch with this work.
Briefings added to the website
  • National Bird Survey Guidance Update.
  • Wildlife Estates Scotland update.
‘Understanding Predation’ (formerly 'Species Interactions')
  • It was agreed that the development of this project would continue.
  • A Planning Group would be established and this would meet on 17 March.
  • A questionnaire would be circulated to all members and other interested parties to capture views about the work.
Principles of Moorland Management 2
  • Volunteers were requested to develop a skeleton plan for this work from the concept document that had been circulated.
  • The aim would be to develop an outline project during 2014 so that it could be included in the budget round for funding in 2015-16.
  • Work would not start until April 2015.
Update on Work in Progress
  • The Peatland Action project 
    • An event is being organised on Flanders Moss in March to provide an opportunity to see peatland restoration in action.
    • Details and a booking form are on the News page of the Forum’s website  
    • The event is being repeated on three consecutive days 25-27 March.  Forum members are encouraged to attend on 25 March. 
  • Forest Enterprise Open Land Project
    • Members are asked to review the report from the workshop held last year.
    • Please could any comments be sent to me by the end of March 2014. 
    • Comments will be passed to FES.
Governance Issues
  • Programme for Delivery
    • See the latest version on the website..
    • The Programme for 2014 has been updated.
    • A review of the Priority Issues, Other Work, and the Issues pages is required and volunteers would be welcomed to help with this.
  • Summer Meeting - 6 June 2014
    • Mar Lodge was agreed as the venue.
    • Guest invitations
      • Ian Ross, the new chairman of SNH
      • Richard Cooke
      • Other suggestions will be welcome.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Forest Enterprise Scotland - Open Land Workshop

It may surprise you that in Scotland, within the National Forest Estate, there is about 200,000 ha of open land, which is land that is not planted with trees.  In June, last year, the Forum was commissioned by Forest Enterprise Scotland to attend a workshop in the Galloway Forest Park to consider the use of two areas of open land and to make recommendations for how these areas could be managed.

A report from the workshop is available on the Forum's website and I would like to encourage members to review the report and to let me know what they think about it.  I will raise this at the Forum meeting tomorrow (28 February) and I will welcome feedback about the approach, the content and/or the recommendations.

As an indication of the scope of the report, the national implications coming from the report covered: restoration of peat hydrology, monitoring of peatland, grazing management, wet heath management and bracken control.

Forest Enterprise has suggested that another workshop could be held in a different part of the National Forest Estate this year and no doubt this would throw up a range of different issues.  I would be interested to hear whether you would be willing to support a workshop, if the issues were relevant to you.