The Forum met on 23rd March in Perth and the meeting was well attended. Full minutes of the meeting will be circulated to members of the Forum, but these are the highlights.
Jo O’Hara, Head of Forestry Commission Scotland provided an outline of the changes that are taking place in the Forestry Commission to set up ‘Forestry & Land Scotland’ (management of the forestry estate) and ‘Scottish Forestry’ (regulation), which will both be independent agencies of the Scottish Government. An open consultation will be held regarding the development of a Forest Strategy.
Emma Goodyer from the IUCN UK Peatland Programme had been due to speak about the Commission of Inquiry Update that is in progress, but sadly she was unwell and unable to attend the meeting.
Briefings were provided before the meeting and they are available on the website, but the authors spoke to their briefings during the meeting:
- Andrew Coupar – Peatland Update.
- Hamish Trench - The Land Commission. As a result of his attendance it was agreed that the Land Commission would apply for membership of the Forum.
- Will Boyd-Wallis - Cairngorms NPA forestry strategy review.
- Duncan Orr-Ewing - Carbon-Neutral Farming.
Discussion centred on how the Forum could identify long-term objectives for moorland in Scotland with links to other strategies and as part of the development of a UK, post-Brexit framework. Engagement with the consultation over the Forest Strategy could be part of this, as well as input to the work strands identified by the Land Commission, principally Land Ownership and Land Use Decision-Making.
A short summary of the breadth of issues covered by the Moorland Forum could be prepared, as a way to highlight why the uplands are in need of careful consideration. Volunteers to refine this approach and assist with the production of a summary are being sought.
It was agreed that the summer meeting on 1st June 2018 will take place at Carsphairn and it will be hosted by the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.
Principles of Moorland Management (PoMM)
Agreement was reached to publish the guidance on: Heather Cutting, Mountain Hare and Worm Control in Grouse. Much debate has taken place during the development of this guidance and although the topics have covered some contentious issues, it is to members’ credit that the Forum has been able to agree a common position on this guidance. Some final tweaks will be made, to reflect the discussion during the meeting, ahead of publication at the end of this week.
With the publication of this guidance, the focus can now shift to the production of other guidance. Suggestions for topics to cover will be welcome (see the Blog post).
A Development Plan to address the refinement and expansion of the Code’s supplementary information (See the Muirburn blog Post) is being considered by a small group. This will be circulated for input to the Muirburn Group, and more widely, before being finalised.
Working for Waders
Chris Wernham (BTO) provided an update from the meeting of the Facilitation Team that had taken place earlier in the week. Three Action Groups have met twice and a plan for further work during 2018-19 is being developed.
The Succession Task Group met after the meeting and a separate note will be circulated to Forum members.