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.