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

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