Friday, 27 January 2017

Meeting with the Director Environment and Forestry

Lord Lindsay and I met Bridget Campbell, Director Environment & Forestry at Victoria Quay, this morning.  Keith Connal (Deputy Director, Natural Resources Division) and Hugh Dignon were also present.

We received a valuable briefing about the issues that the two Cabinet Secretaries are dealing with and discussed how the work of the Forum can support this activity.  We spent some time considering the development of the 'Working for Waders' programme of action, and this will be discussed further during the Chairman's Working Group meeting on Friday, 3 February.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Working for Waders

Working for Waders is the working title for a programme of action that the Forum is developing to follow on from the Understanding Predation project.

This is in the very early stages, but we are aiming to develop the concept and build momentum so that a programme of action can start, as soon as possible.

A small coordination group of volunteers contributed to a conference call on 26 January to help with the thinking, so that some ideas can be put to Forum members.  The concept will be discussed first at the Chairman's Working Group on 3 February, and then at the Forum meeting on 24 February. It is likely that we will be recommending that a series of workshops, possibly three, is held to capture ideas from a wide range of stakeholders, before we decide how best to address the issues.

We will welcome input to the development of this thinking from as many people as possible, but we are also aware that we want to get something started, while the messages that came from Understanding Predation are still fresh in our memories.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Muirburn Code Review

As the date for completing the review and the dates of the stakeholder workshops draw closer, the review is entering its final phase and the level of activity is increasing, as a result.

For more information about the review, see the Muirburn Code blog.  The latest post reflects the discussion that took place during the Steering Group meeting held on 25 January.

This is a link to the flyer for the workshops, which will aim to capture views from those with experience of muirburn, including cutting.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Draft Climate Change Plan & Peatland

The Scottish Government has published its Draft Climate Change Plan and this sets out the Government's ambitions for peatland restoration.  Long term funding is to be provided to deliver large-scale peatland restoration.  The members of the Forum may have a role to assist with the Awareness Raising policy, outlined below.

Peatland Restoration Progress
Since 2013, through the Peatland Action Initiative, around 10,000 hectares of peatlands have been restored through Scottish Government led action, working with public and private land managers across Scotland.

Ambitions for peatland
By 2020, 50,000 hectares of degraded peatland will have been restored, from a 1990 baseline, and by 2030 we will have increased this to 250,000 hectares – an improvement of valuable soils in around 20% of Scotland’s landmass. By 2050, Scotland’s expanded peatlands will be thriving habitats, sustaining a diverse ecosystem and sequestering more carbon than ever before.

Extract from the Draft Climate Change Plan - Section 13.4, p131
Our ambition – Peat 
13.4.3  By 2030, 40% of degraded peatland will be restored to good condition. This policy action will have considerable impact by converting peatlands from emitting carbon to acting as a carbon sink as well as reducing emissions from degraded bogs. The restored peatland will also help mitigate flood risk and improve water quality, as well as helping to increase biodiversity in restored areas.

13.4.4  As well as providing increased carbon storage, this large-scale peatland restoration delivery across Scotland will also produce multiple benefits for communities and the economy. The key sectors expected to see benefits are tourism, food and drink and the environment.

13.4.5  To make progress towards this ambition, we will focus on achieving a significant increase in the scale of degraded peatland restored, from a 1990 baseline to:
• 50,000 hectares restored by 2020
• 250,000 hectares restored by 2030

13.4.6  Our longer term ambition is that by 2050, Scotland’s expanded peatlands will be thriving habitats, sustaining a diverse ecosystem and sequestering more carbon than ever before.
Peat policy outcomes, policies, development milestones and proposals

Policy outcome 1: To enhance the contribution of peatland to carbon storage, we will support an increase in the annual rate of peatland restoration, from 10,000 hectares in 2017/18 to 20,000 hectares per year thereafter.

Policies which contribute to the delivery of policy outcome 1 
1)  Restoration grants: We will provide grant funding to support eligible land managers to deliver peatland restoration. Levels of funding will enable at least 20,000 hectares of peatland restoration per year from 2018/19.
2)  Awareness raising: Working through partnership, we will put in place tools and information to develop the capacity, skills and knowledge of land managers, contractors and others, to deliver peatland restoration.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Lecture on the Mountain Hare - 19 January

Lecture on the Mountain Hare - 19 January

Venue: Sportsman's Club, 11 Queen's Road, Aberdeen AB15 4YL

This illustrated lecture, presented by Glenn Iason and Scott Newey of the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, will explore the natural history, food, habitat and populations of the mountain hare and the issues currently affecting it.

Read more

(Reprinted from the Scottish Land & Estates Newsletter, 6th January 2017)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Roseanna Cunningham: Natural assets must be top priority

Photo: Getty images

Roseanna Cunningham is Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.  Her New Year message provides a framework for Moorland Forum activity in 2017.

She quotes Ban Ki-moon: “It is time to recognise that human capital and natural capital are every bit as important as financial capital”.

She comments that, "it is vital that we continue to develop and manage our environmental resources sustainably" and states that, "2017 promises to be highly significant for everyone who cares about our environment".

Read the full message as reported in The Scotsman.