Monday, 25 January 2016

The Principles of Moorland Management gathers pace

Progress on this project has suffered from being in the shadow of the Understanding Predation project, but we are making progress.

The latest version of the plan for this project is on the project page of the Forum's website and this provides the detail of what this project aims to achieve. In summary:
  1. The project aims to identify the best practice techniques to be used for a variety of moorland management practices;
  2. The project will publish short summaries of the key issues on the Forum’s website and will link to other guidance, where this is available;
  3. If guidance gaps are identified, the project may commission the production of appropriate detailed guidance; and
  4. The guidance published by the project will be reviewed at least annually and updated when necessary.
It has been agreed that initially the project will focus on guidance that covers four topics:

Lead Organisation
Worm Control in Grouse
Predator control & Snaring
Sheep Ticks & Mountain Hare
Heather Cutting
Heather Trust

A Guidance Group will be established for each topic and the Group will operate in accordance with a brief agreed by the Steering Group.  The first brief, for Worm Control in Grouse, has been drafted and currently this is under review - it can be viewed on the webpage.  When finalised, the Guidance Group will start work.

I will publish more information about this important project as it gathers momentum, but please use the Comment facility below, if you would like more information.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Review of the Muirburn Code

The Review is underway.  The start-up meeting was held last Friday, 22 January, and the contract is now in place.  I have opened a dedicated Blog for the Review and I will be adding information to the blog, and the muirburn page on the Forum's website, as the project develops.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Land Use Strategy - Pilots - Evaluation Report

In 2013, the Scottish Government initiated two regional land use pilot projects in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders to test an innovative approach to land use decision-making. An independent evaluation was carried out in parallel with the pilot projects to consider the processes of developing and managing the projects, as well as the final outputs.

The Report on the Evaluation of the Regional Land Use Framework Pilots, and the Research Findings were published today.

Information on the pilot projects can be found on the Land Use Strategy webpages.

If you have any questions, you are invited to get in touch with the Land Use and Biodiversity Team at 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Muirburn Code Review - it's all go

I had a good meeting with the Scottish Government, on Friday, and we have agreed the approach to the review.  I will provide full details when I have agreed the contract with the Government on behalf of the Forum, but the key features are:
  • The review process will start this month;
  • A draft revised Code will be produced by the end of August;
  • The draft revised Code will be road-tested in four workshops to be held in different parts of the country during the next muirburn season;
  • Feedback from the workshops will be used to refine the Code; and  
  • A revised Code will be presented to the Scottish Government for adoption when all feedback has been incorporated.
I am pleased that this next phase in the review process is following the recommendations from the Critique Phase Report that the Muirburn Group presented to the Scottish Government in June 2014.  No commitment can be given to moving beyond this phase of work.  However, there is plenty of work to be done in short term, and I hope that this will lead to further development in the longer term.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Moorland Forum Website

A New Year and a a new website.  This is evolution not revolution but I hope that members will appreciate the improvements to the presentation of information.

Anne has been working hard behind the scenes to manage the transition, but work on a website never reflects the amount of effort that is required to achieve even simple changes.  Many of the improvements are behind the scenes and will improve our ability to keep the website up to date and add information.

We will add the Understanding Predation report to the website, when it is published on 1st February.

I would like to invite members to take this opportunity to review the website in its new form and let us know whether or not it is providing the right amount of information for your needs.

The Understanding Predation Project

This project is entering the final stages.  There is a short update on the project's blog.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Muirburn Code Review - update

I submitted the response to the Invitation to Tender to the Scottish Government in mid-December, following a discussion with a cross-sector Planning Group.  The recommendations from the Planning Group included extending the work to encompass workshops during the next muirburn season to promote a draft of the revised Code to practitioners.

I have been invited to meet the Scottish Government on 8 January and I expect that we will agree a way ahead for this review.

I will be setting up a Steering Group to run the project and a wider Muirburn Group to provide input to the review process and to communicate the output from the review amongst their own networks.

I will be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in contributing to this review.