Friday, 30 October 2009

Scotland's Moorland Forum - New Grant

I am delighted to be able to report that the Trust's grant to provide the administration for the Forum will be renewed.

I am the Secretary and Alison is the Administrator of the Forum and these roles involve a large amount of work.  This input is funded by a grant from Scottish Natural Heritage.  I had expected that the existing grant would continue until 31st March 2011, but I was invited to re-apply for a grant from 1 April 2010.  This caused a flurry of unexpected activity prior to the deadline on 1 September, and a certain amount of 'sharpening the pencil', to make our application as attractive as possible.

The less good news is that the grant will only be for 1 year, rather than the three we had applied for.  However, I am grateful for the approval, as renewal was by no means certain in the difficult financial times that SNH finds itself in.  Claims that our budget was cut tight and submitted on the assumption of being given a 3 year term are likely to fall on deaf ears! 

Discussions will now take place on how best to fund the support of the Forum after the end of our one year grant.  I hope that we will be able to retain our involvement wherever the funding comes from.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

HT Facts & Figures

Trying to remember all the facts & figures that fly across my desk is an impossible task. I started to record the most interesting / most relevant a while ago and in case it is of wider interest I have now made this information available on the members section of the website.

It is an eclectic mixture of information and I have added some additional detail which can be found by clicking on the pink icon in the Details column. It is possible to search the file for keywords to help find information of particular interest.

I will add to this as time goes by and try to remove out of date information. I hope you find it useful and interesting. Comments welcome.

Forestry Facts & Figures

Do you want to know more about what has been going on in the forestry world? This could be the site for you - Forestry Facts & Figures.

The area of woodland in the UK at 31 March 2009 is estimated to be 2.84 million hectares. This represents 12% of the total land area in the UK, 9% in England, 17% in Scotland, 14% in Wales and 6% in Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, there are proposals to increase the area of woodland to 25%. This is a proposal I am watching with interest as I would not like to see the area of forestry expanded at the expense of moorland, or even areas where heather has been lost recently that could be restored.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Environmental schemes damaging upland farming

THE Tenant Farmers Association has hit out at Natural England’s ‘misguided’ policy of ‘drastically reducing’ uplands stocking densities through Environmental Stewardship Schemes. See the full article in the Farmer's Guardian.

I share the concern that the overgrazing lobby needs to be curtailed. Undergrazing is a reality in many areas already and this is likely to get worse if the 75% reduction in upland stocking levels that is quoted in the article comes to pass. Understandably, the TFA is interested first and foremost in such issues as farm incomes, home produced beef & lamb, skill shortages and food security, but I would add habitat condition, biodiversity and wildfire risk to this list. The habitat on an ungrazed moor is likely to be in poor condition, it will not have a diverse structure and the fuel loads will make it a wildfire waiting to happen.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Upland Policy Coordination Committee

I was delighted to attend a meeting of the Upland Policy Coordination Committee that has been established by the Moorland Association to consider English policy issues. This was an opportunity for organisations to share ideas and other input came from the Countryside Alliance, The Country Land and Business Association, the National Gamekeepers Organisation and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The discussion considered a wide range of strategic issues.

I welcomed the opportunity to contribute to this meeting. There is always a danger that the organisations with an interest in the uplands will pull in different directions when there is much to be gained from a more coordinated approach. The meets the Trusts wish to see a more integrated approach to moorland management.