Sunday, 26 December 2010

Implementation of EU Pesticides Legislation

Defra ran a consultation for the 12 weeks up to 4 May 2010 that sought views on how the Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC) should be implemented.

The most significant part of this Directive for the Trust is Article 9 that deals with aerial application of pesticides, important in connection with bracken control.  The full summary of the Consultation can be found on Defra's website - page 28 covers aerial application. 

Article 9 requires Member States to prohibit the use of aerial applications and permit such use only when a series of conditions have been met or are present. The Directive also requires Member States to: identify a competent authority responsible for considering and approving applications to carry out aerial spraying operations, establishing procedures for considering and notifying the outcome of requests and making records available to the public; establish a monitoring system to ensure that the conditions under which the approval to spray have been met; and ensure that from 2013 aircraft are fitted with accessories that constitute the best available technology to reduce spray drift.

Defra has concluded that the responsible application of pesticides by aerial spraying does no pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment and, consequently, the derogation to allow aerial spraying will be used.  The existing legislative control regime is believed to provide a basis for meeting the requirements of the Directive and this will be adapted to ensure the continuation of properly regulated aerial applications, through a consent-based approach.

In summary, bracken control by aerial application of Asulox will remain possible.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

England & Wales: 'High Hopes' - CLA Uplands Report

This report by the CLA, published today, summarises the analysis from the recent report by the Commission for Rural Communities and then expands on the Commission's recommendations. The report also argues that the recommendations apply equally to the Uplands in Wales.  I suspect that much, if not all, is also applicable to Scotland.

Carbon in the Uplands- Conference Report

On behalf of the The Heather Trust, The Southern Uplands Partnership and The Crichton Carbon Centre, I am delighted to announce the publication of the report from the Carbon in the Uplands conference that was held in Moffat, in April this year.  I would like to thank all those who: contributed to the conference, provided papers for this report and those who attended the conference.  The Report is being circulated in electronic form only, and please feel free to circulate it within your organisations or to your contacts.  

In the fast changing world of carbon there will be scope to hold a follow on conference and we are reviewing the opportunities for this.  If you are not already on the Trust's circulation list and would like to be kept informed, please let me have your details.

Brash spreading by helicopter

YouTube has four video clips of Dinsdale Moorland Services working with a helicopter to spread heather brash.  Some might argue that this is overkill, but they might be the people who do not move brash around by hand across peat hags.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Re-wilding Scotland

Follow this link to an interesting video that considers re-wilding issues and includes discussion about reintroductions into Scotland.

Friday, 10 December 2010

More about Phytophthora

In a recent post, I mentioned that on the Craignish peninsula, in Argyll, Japanese larch have been found to be infected with P. ramorum.

In another part of Argyll, Lawson’s Cypress trees in Balloch Castle Country Park, near Loch Lomond, are the latest casualties to the Phytophthora pathogen. In this case, Phytophthora lateralis, is the cause of the disease. Whilst “new” to Scotland, P. lateralis has been present on the Western seaboard of the USA for some time.  Here it has also affected Lawson’s Cypress trees.

P. lateralis is a water-borne organism which can live and grow in the roots and lower stems of its host trees, surviving in a resting state in soil, and actively travelling in surface water.  In affected trees, the foliage of the crown begins to discolour, and it wilts and withers. In small trees, this may happen over a period of weeks, and with larger trees, the process can take between 1 and 4 years.

This continual drip feed of information is starting to be a little ominous for dwarf shrubs on moorland.  I will be keeping my ear to the ground.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Phytophthora Ramorum found on Japanese Larch in Scotland

This is a first for Scotland.  Similar infections have been found in SW England previously.  This is not just a forestry issue, there are real concerns that the disease could become prevalent on heather species.  Rhodoendron is a primary host, but the increasing levels of infection on other species, including Japanese Larch, is of great concern.

Read the FCS press release for more details about this outbreak.

Winter Strikes but Exmoor is reached

The weather has even affected the workings of the Trust and we elected to postpone the Board meeting that should have taken place in Edinburgh, today.  It was a good job we did, as Carstairs was out of commission through a signalling defect all morning, which would have stranded those of us who would have travelled from the south.

However, all is not lost as I managed to catch a flight down to Bristol and I am in place ready to speak at a meeting to discuss burning practices on Exmoor, tomorrow morning.  It would have been easier if I could have used to time spent making sure I got here on writing my presentation.  Who needs sleep when there are moorland management issues to address?  I will be trying to encourage a lively debate with a view to getting more good quality burning, or swaling as it is known here, carried out to regenerate the tired heather, provide better grazing and improve the conservation status of the moors.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Scotland: Windfarm guidance scoops green award

Well done to Scottish Renewables, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Forestry Commission Scotland for winning a Scottish Renewables Green energy Award in the best environmental initiative category.

The Windfarm Guidance that this group produced is well worth a read by all those involved with windfarms or who like to know about their construction.  It is available to download from the SNH Website.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Wildlife Estates Scotland

This initiative was launched last week and it is very welcome.  This is a Scottish version of the initiative that is running throughout Europe and the aim is that by signing up as a Wildlife Estate, an estate will be able to demonstrate the role that Scottish estates play in delivering a wide range of benefits to Scotland.  It is also hoped that the initiative will help to address some ongoing tensions in the Scottish countryside.  The concept briefing suggests that there is much more to unite than divide, and this is a view that I wholeheartedly support.

The press release provides some high level quotes and the Concept Briefing explains the background to the initiative.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

IUCN Peatland Programme - Open Inquiry - Written Evidence

The written evidence that was submitted to the Inquiry for the meeting on 3 November  is now available from the peatland programme website.

This includes the evidence that I presented with Tim Baynes, on behalf of SRPBA, which had input from Martin Gillibrand of the Moorland Association.  This evidence argued the case for better communication with the land management community.  Their understanding of the issues should not be assumed but their ability to assist with the improvement of the condition of peatlands should not be under-estimated.  Much work is already underway as stated in our evidence.

On the back of this, I have been asked to organise an event for land managers in March to ensure that the Peatland Programme captures the views of the land management community.  Attendance is likely to be by invitation only with a view to attracting key players with an experience of peatland management.