Friday, 24 September 2010

Scotland - Draft Land Use Strategy

The consultation on the draft Land Use Strategy is now open and details can be downloaded from The Scottish Government's website.  Responses will be accepted until 17 December, but early responses by the end of November will be welcomed.  

I will be looking at this from a Heather Trust perspective but also on behalf of Scotland's Moorland Forum.

Friday, 17 September 2010

IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands

I have blogged previously about this Commission of Inquiry, for which I am a member of the Advisory Committee, but I would like to provide you with a reminder about the conference that is taking place on 28-29 September 2010.  It is going to be a big and interesting gathering.  Those who want to attend this conference have probably already registered, but may I draw your attention to the eight reviews that have been published recently that will form the main point of discussion at the conference.

These can be downloaded from the Programme's website and are well worth a look:

State of the UK Peatlands

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Potential

Peatland Biodiversity

Impacts of Peatland Restoration

Impacts of Burning Management on Peatlands

Peatland Hydrology

Importance of Peatlands for the Historic Environment

Policy Options for Sustainable Management

The issues covered go wider than just peat management and the Burning Management and Peatland Restoration reviews are of particular relevance.

I had some input into the Sustainable Management review and Rob Marrs featured in the Burning Management review.  I have a short speaking part at the conference, wearing my Moorland Forum hat, as has Ian Condliffe, so we will be well represented.

I will aim to provide a summary of the key findings in this blog after the conference.  Happy reading!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Invitation to Participate in the FIRES Seminar Series Follow-up Survey

Message from Dr Julia McMorrow & Dr Anna Gilchrist

Four FIRES seminars on the effects of moorland and heathland wildfires and prescribed fires on ecosystem services were held during 2008-2009, The series was funded jointly by ESRC and NERC.

A policy brief has been produced. It summarises the key messages from the series, policy recommendations and knowledge gaps:

We would like to know what you think about these recommendations. Please take 10 minutes to complete our on-line survey. We are keen to hear from anyone who has views on UK vegetation fires. It is not necessary to be involved in fire management or policy-making, or to have attended the FIRES seminars. We welcome responses from as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. Please feel free to forward it to other interested parties.

The survey closes on October 15th. Responses are individual and anonymous. However, if you choose to provide your contact details we will enter you into the prize draw for a £25 book token. Further information can be found on the introductory page of the survey. If you have any queries please contact

Click here to go to the survey:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Heather for Cutting

Dinsdales in action
The last post prompted me to think about the supply of heather seed.  It is a finite resource as it has to be collected from moors that machinery can travel on and there must be reasonable access to a track or road.

The demand for seed is increasing and this begs the question of its value.

If the value increases sufficiently there will come a point where it will be viable for the owners of suitable heather ground to grow the heather as a crop.  The heather on a suitable area would be nurtured specifically for cutting in return for a payment when it is harvested.

This may already be in the minds of owners of moorland, but it would be interesting to learn at what price this would become a worthwhile exercise.  Has anyone got any thoughts?

Wanted: Source of Heather for Cutting

A contractor who is bidding to carry out the next phase of heather regeneration work as part of the Moors for the Future Project in the Peak District is looking for a source of heather to cut for brash to be applied to bare peat.

The heather needs to be mature (probably at least 200mm tall) with access for cutting machinery and within reach of a road or track.

The contractor is looking for up to 70ha and is offering £2/T for the cut material.  The amount of cut material produced will vary with the age and density of the heather but is likely to be in the range 25-75T/ha.

The contractor is a recognised and well-respected moorland contractor who has a range of specialised equipment to carry out this work and therefore will cause minimum impact on the ground.

The benefit of this for the landowner, is to provide some income in return for having an area of heather managed without cost.

If anyone is interested in this, please get in touch:
01387 723201

Monday, 6 September 2010

Wales: Glastir and Common Land

Farmers Weekly Interactive carried an article quoting the Common Land Committee of the Farmers Union of Wales expressing concerns about the effect of Glastir.

Apparently, 80% of the commoners on a common will need to sign up to a scheme and there will be nervousness about how the actions of the minority might affect the majority.  In common with other agri-environment schemes, the rules set by the EU for Glastir are not thought to be flexible enough to cope with the unique management structure of commons, and perhaps the same concern could be expressed for the crofting counties of Scotland.

Is Wales about to get this wrong?  Are the same problems that limit the effectiveness of Environmental Stewardship in England and Rural Priorities in Scotland about to be repeated?  How can we break out of this apparently vicious circle?