Thursday, 25 March 2010

IUCN Peatland Programme

I was delighted to be invited to join the Advisory Group for this important Programme and  I attended the Scottish Launch in Edinburgh  on 24 March, which was attended by Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary.  A similar event took place in London on 31 March.
The Programme's website describes its purpose:
The IUCN UK Peatland Program was established in 2009 to promote peatland restoration in the UK.   A three-year programme of work has been developed to provide a "conservation quartet" consisting of partnerships, strong science, sound policy and effective practice. An overarching theme for this work is the promotion of the multiple benefits of peatlands to society.
The programme will:
  • Provide a focus for the wide range of expertise and work in peat and research  and management to provide credible, relevant and consistent messages for decision-makers
  •  facilitate consensus building and knowledge exchange in the UK, with links to international work
  •  highlight the benefits and values of peatland ecosystem services to help encourage sound policy and funding for peatlands
  •  demonstrate and promote best practice in peatland management
 (IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature and it helps the world to find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Scotland: Snaring legislation

The changes to the snaring legislation came into effect in Scotland on 11 March.  All involved directly or indirectly with snaring should make themselves aware of the changes to the law which cover such issues as:

  • the requirement for all snares to be fitted with stops
  • all snares to be checked every 24 hrs
  • all snares to be free running and this is to be confirmed at the 24hr check
  • snares must be properly fixed to prevent them being dragged
  • snares should not be set near features that could lead to animals being fully or partially suspended or drowned.
For further guidance see the practitioners guide that can be downloaded from the Scottish Government's website.  This guide was produced by the industry and we had some input to it.

BASC Scotland, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust have collaborated to produce and provide training in the use of snares in Scotland.  Each of the organisations will be conducting a half-day training course, costing £45, that will include theoretical and practical assessments. For more information and to book contact the BASC Scotland Office on 01350 723226.

I hope that everyone involved with snaring will embrace the guidance to make sure that they stay within the law.  There is little doubt that snaring will remain under the political microscope and if the industry cannot be seen to be carrying out snaring within the law there is every chance that our ability to use snaring as a valid management tool will be under threat.

Snaring is an essential part of best practice moorland management and the Trust supports its use fully.  This legislative change comes hard on the heels of the Waders on the fringe report, which emphasises the need to be able to control ground predators such as foxes, stoats & weasels.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

'Waders on the fringe'

This is the final report from the nine years of work at Otterburn that everyone with an interest in upland management should read.  GWCT are to be applauded for this work and this report.

The report and the facts speak for themselves - the negative impact that predators have on upland breeding bird populations is very clear.

I suppose this leaves us with a choice.  What do we want for our upland areas?  Are we content to leave nature to itself when the evidence from this report is that this will lead to the decline or loss of upland birds species from vast tracts of the uplands?  Or do we want to apply some management, that is funded from private sources, to allow control of predator populations and let the other species survive.  No-one is talking about extermination of predators, management of their numbers is being recommended to give other species a chance.

One of the Trust's former Chairman was quoted as saying "In the world of conservation, it is necessary to manage the successes as well as the failures."  This still holds true.  To bury our heads in the sand and let nature run its own course in the uplands will result in a very different balance of habitat, bird and other species?  I do not believe that we are ready to accept the changes in our uplands and decline of important species and therefore I believe completely that predator management is an integral part of best practice upland management.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'Carbon in the Uplands: Threats & Opportunities' Conference

We have joined forces with the Southern Uplands Partnership and the Crichton Carbon Centre, Dumfries to stage this conference that is aimed at demystifying the issues that surround carbon in the uplands for the benefit of landowners and land managers.

The conference will start at lunchtime on 20 April and finish at tea time on 21 April and it is based on the Moffat House Hotel in the centre of Moffat.

Full details are contained in the flyer that can be downloaded here.  The first session, on 20 April, will be a workshop run by the Sustainable Uplands project team, that forms part of the Rural Economy & Land Use (RELU) programme run by Defra.  I have been part of this project from the beginning and the report of its work has now been published (see the earlier Blog article - 3 March).  The second day of the conference will see several presentations followed by some targeted workshops that we hope will provide some light in the darkness that surrounds carbon issues.

Our recent experience with Scotland's Moorland Forum and the Upland Solutions project has shown that there is a lack of awareness and understanding about carbon within the land management community and I hope that this conference will help to alleviate this.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Sustainable Uplands Project - Call to pay farmers for managing uplands

I have supported the Sustainable Uplands Project that has seen a collaboration of Universities (including Leeds, Aberdeen & Durham) take an academic view of the management of the uplands which has been funded by Defra's Rural Economy & Land Use (RELU) Programme .  The work is now being published and has received a range of press coverage over the last few days.  See the articles in:  The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post, The Press & Journal and Bioscience Technology.

Is this approach possible and would you support it?

This project will also be featuring as part of the Carbon in the Uplands conference that I am organising with the Southern Uplands Partnership and the Crichton Carbon Centre, Dumfries that will be held in Moffat 20-21 April 2010.  More details will follow.