Saturday, 25 June 2016

Peatland Code at the Royal Highland Show

I was pleased to be able to support the presentation about the Peatland Code that took place on the Scottish Land & Estates stand on Thursday, 23rd June.  The benefits that flow from better management of peatland are becoming clearer and it is encouraging that ambassadors amongst the land management community are coming forward to state their support.  However, it is difficult to justify the cost of restoration work without external funding and this is how the Peatland Code aims to help; one of the roles for the Code is to provide a match-making service between those who want to restore peatland and those who might want to fund this, perhaps as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility package.

If you want to know the IUCN UK Peatland programme is running a webinar on 26 July. The Peatland Code Webinar: A practical solution to a global problemThe Peatland Code Webinar: A practical solution to a global problem.

With thanks to SL&E for hosting the Peatland Code event, their hospitality provided a good opportunity to meet a range of Moorland Forum members and others with an interest in Scotland's moorlands and uplands.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Principles of Moorland Management (PoMM) - an update

The PoMM project has developed in the shadow of the Understanding Predation project and members of the Forum, and others alike, will be forgiven if they have lost sight of the plan for this work.

The aim is to develop a series of guidance covering a range of moorland management issues. This guidance will be aimed primarily to give practitioners an overview of the information they need before applying different management techniques, and directions to where to find more detailed information.

The project is now gathering momentum and with this briefing, I aim to bring everyone up to date on the stage that this project has reached, the work in progress and the work that is planned.

This project has always been a 'slow burner' but nonetheless it provides the Forum with an opportunity to produce guidance that will be of value to practitioners.

It is deliberate that a some of the details of the project have been left to evolve as the work of the project develops, and it is recognised that each topic will to some extent require a different approach. 

A key feature of the project is that it will rely on cross-sector support for the guidance. Some may think that it will not be possible to achieve this for some of the more controversial topics, but this is the challenge that the project lays down. To produce the guidance may require some compromises but if these can be accepted the benefits from being able to provide a positive influence on the management activities carried out by practitioners will justify this approach. 

Project Governance 

A Project Plan has been agreed and approved by the Forum; this is available on the PoMM page of the Forum's website. 

A provisional Steering Group has been formed from the Planning Group that developed the Project Plan:
Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group
British Deer Society
SNH Wildlife Management Manager
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
Representing RICS  

The Project Plan makes it clear that the Steering Group can be extended to embrace other interest groups, and volunteers to join the Steering Group will be welcome. It may be possible for someone to contribute to the work of the Steering Group in arelation to one particular topic of interest, but this will need to be considered by the Group.

When guidance has been approved by the Steering Group, it will be referred to all members of the Forum for any comment, before final publication.

Guidance Groups

Guidance Groups are being formed to consider topics agreed by the Steering Group and the Groups will be given a brief to work to and develop, in liaison with the Steering Group.

The Chairman of the Guidance Group will be a member of the Forum.

Guidance Groups will be kept small (4-6 members) and will be formed from people with current experience of the topic, from within but also, where appropriate, from outside the Forum.

Form of the Guidance

The aim is for the output from each Guidance Group to be a summary of the knowledge practitioners, who are seeking to apply the moorland management technique, should have together with directions about how to find more information.

The guidance will be web-based and at least initially, this information will be added to the Moorland Forum’s website.

The format of the published guidance has not yet been agreed and the first piece of guidance will be used to develop a style that will be used for other information, although it is likely that variations in the style will be required for different topics. 

The aim is to publish the best guidance available at the time of publication. This may be a ‘moving target’ but a feature of being online is that it will be easy to update the guidance to reflect increasing knowledge or other changes.


It will be important to keep the guidance up to date, and a feature of the project will be an annual review of all published guidacen, although guidance can be updated at any time in response to changes.


Guidance Groups have been established to consider: Worm Control in Grouse and Heather Cutting. Briefs for both these topics are available on the PoMM webpage.

A group is forming to consider Sustainable Management Mountain Hare and to produce interim guidance, ahead of more formal guidance that is due to be published in 2017. A need for the interim guidance has been identified and this topic is being given a high priority. 


This is a valuable opportunity for the Forum to apply is broad based, specialist knowledge. It will take time to develop the planned suite of information but this will become a valuable source of information for practitioners and others.

Please caontact me if you have any questions about the way the project is developing, if you want to propose topics to address, or if you want to offer support for the work in progress or planned.