Friday, 23 December 2011

50,000 year old peat moss

Here is some information from research in Hawaii that could cause a stunned silence if dropped into conversation during a Christmas social gathering.

If you do not know anything about sphagnum mosses, you will not be alone, but look out for the 'simple' guide that will be published by the Field Studies Council early next year, which has been part sponsored by The Heather Trust.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Scotland: High Nature Value farming and crofting

Scottish Environment Link has published a file note that provides a  definition of High Nature Value Farming and argues that it deserves more consideration.  A thought from the file note to ponder: rather than see a large part of Scotland dismissed as being a 'Less Favoured Area' (LFA) would it be better to view these areas as being potentially high value in terms of the environmental goods produced.  Is your cup half empty or half full?  Perhaps the introduction of 'Areas facing Natural Constraint' (ANC) as a successor to LFA will help introduce a change of perception.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Scotland: The Woodland Expansion Advisory Group

The Woodland Expansion Advisory Group (WEAG) has been established in response to The Scottish Government's wish to increase the amount of woodland cover in Scotland from 17% to 25%.  The WEAG has established a consultation process which closes on 6 January 2012 and a copy of a letter that was sent by the Group to stakeholders can be downloaded from the FCS website.

The WEAG has announced a series of seven stakeholder events across Scotland between 21 February and 1 March 2012, and details can be found on the WEAG page of the website.

I aim to add some further thoughts to the blog as I develop the Trust's response to the consultation, but in the meantime the WEAG has announced a series of seven stakeholder events across Scotland between 21 February and 1 March 2012, and details can be found on the WEAG page of the website.

More on the 2011 Grouse Season

A second article about the success of the 2011 grouse season in today's edition of The Scotsman is by Lord Hopetoun, the chairman of the Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group.  He comments on the environmental benefits arising from the investment in moorland management, and also very importantly on the benefits to the communities in the areas where this investment takes place.

The Grouse Season in Scotland

The Scotsman carries a summary of the 2011 Scottish grouse season.  As stated in the article, 2011 has been a season to savour and this is good news all round.

From a Heather Trust perspective, good grouse bags can only be achieved from well-managed moorland and the income generated from the grouse justifies the continuation of this management.  It may also encourage those who are not managing their moors to their potential to invest in them for the benefit of grouse and all moorland and upland plants and species.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Statistical Digest of the English Uplands 2011

This document was published today and contains every statistics you might want for the English uplands, and more besides.

I was asked to comment on the scope of the work in the early stages and expressed some disappointment that there is no information about: land included in sporting enterprises, the split between land entered into HLS & UELS schemes and land that forms drinking water catchments.

Valuing Nature Network

The Valuing Nature Network is a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) interdisciplinary network for valuing biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural resource use.  The network is open to new members and registration can be carried out from the website.

Of particular relevance to our work is the 'Assessing and valuing peatland ecosystem services for sustainable management' project which is being led by Mark Reed from The University of Aberdeen, amongst others.  I am attending a workshop set up by this project on 19 January 2012.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Heather Trust Annual Report Articles

For the first time the best bits of the Trust's annual report are available online.

Some of the Trust's annual report, which is published in August each year, is inevitably devoted to telling the world how wonderful we are.  However, every year we are blessed with some guest articles that provide width and added interest for the recipients of the report and it is these articles that, with the permission of the authors, are now available on the Trust's website.

All the articles are of a high standard but if you only have time to digest three of them, let me give you my recommendations: 'What Makes heather so Special?' by Prof Charles Gimingham, the response to the Fair Game BBC TV programme by Douglas McAdam of Scottish Land & Estates, and Prof Steve Redpath's 'A Glimmer of Hope for Hen harriers'.

The report is circulated to members and a few additional people who we think will benefit from learning about what we do. But as a trial we are making the guest articles available to everyone.  If you enjoy reading these articles, please let us know.  Alternatively, you could sign up to become a member and receive your own printed copy of future reports in August.  Membership starts from (only) £40 p.a. - follow the link for more details.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bracken Control - The Yorkshire Post

Ian Rotherham has picked up the story about asulam in today's edition of The Yorkshire Post.  He provides a useful summary of the current position and what we are doing about it.  Asulam is banned, but long live Asulam!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Peatland Management - letter to The Scotsman

The Scotsman published a letter on Friday (3 December) suggesting that management of the uplands for deer or by burning heather was detrimental to the carbon capture & storage potential of the uplands.  Adam Smith, Director Scotland for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and I disagree and have sent the following letter to the Editor:

Contrary to the letters on Friday, a balanced view suggests our peatland performance is not presently so poor.  The recently published findings from the IUCN Commission of Inquiry rightly identifies that enhancing carbon capture on deep peat, such as blanket bogs, is at least theoretically achievable. We are concerned that making this the key objective for all Scottish peatland systems is short-sighted. Research evidence supports the view that management carried out by landowners and managers to enhance habitats for grazing by, for example sheep, cattle, deer, grouse and hares, actually increases the ability of our hills to capture carbon and store it in the peat. And the removal of litter and dense vegetation by managed fire reduces the likelihood of peat-damaging fires, such as those seen this spring in many areas where rotational muirburn is not practiced.
Managed fire in Scotland’s hills is an internationally recognised means of delivering biodiversity, cultural and economic outcomes from our upland peatlands. Our achievable vision is integrating peatland restoration, which maximises carbon capture and water quality, with the many services our farmers and sportsmen deliver from other parts of our hills for the benefit of all people in Scotland. 
Adam Smith, Director Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, 
Simon Thorp, Director, Heather Trust

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Single Environment Organisation for Wales

The Welsh Assembly has announced that the proposed merger of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), the Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency Wales will go ahead.  The single organisation will open for business on 1 April 2013.  More info.

Is this decision a sign of the future for other parts of the UK?  Will the inevitable turbulence be justified by the introduction of better management of the environment and countryside, and good relations with land managers, or will it result in happy bean counters, but leave a single organisation that is under resourced?

Mar Lodge - Independent Review

See the post of the Moorland Forum Blog about the independent review of moorland, woodland and deer management that has just been published.

The comments at the bottom of the 'read the final report' page are also worth a look, e.g. "the arrogance of those with education but no knowledge or experience is very frustrating".

The Rhododendron’s Road to Redemption

The link between Rhododendron and Phytophthora Ramorum has been established and this has made this invasive plant even less welcome.

See The Telegraph's article about how one estate has found a commercial use for rhododendron cuttings as part of a control programme.

Formation of Irish Bogs

This link takes you to an article that provides a view on how man's influence encourages the formation of blanket bog in Ireland, but how raised bogs formed without man's influence.

Raised bogs have been the main target for fuel.  800,000 tons per year of peat (called turf when cut) were extracted for fuel during the period 1814 - 1946 and this led to the destruction of half of Ireland's raised bogs.  Bord na Mona was set up to manage the extraction of peat  and there were 100,000 ha of raised bogs remaining in 1969 of which Bord na Mona owned 45,000ha.

The extraction of peat at this rate seems strange in the current peat-friendly times.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Monthly Perspective

I have launched a new initiative today.  Patrick Laurie writes a monthly column for The Shooting Gazette but as he lives near Dumfries, I have given him the task of writing a monthly article, A Monthly Perspective, which will be his views of what we have been up to in the previous month.  It will be interesting to see what he makes of it!

You can get to the first submission through the website.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

EC Pressure on Irish Bogs

The pressure from the EC on the Irish Government is increasing to stop the cutting of turf (peat) on protected Irish bogs.  See the article in the Irish Times.

While we may agree that this is correct, what about the peat extraction in the UK?  It seems odd, to say the least, that we are talking the the talk about re-wetting to conserve peat and carbon while peat extraction is still allowed to continue.  There is a site not far from here in Dumfries.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

FWAG in receivership

See the Farmers Guardian article from more information about an appeal for funds.  The article refers to the UK and seems to ignore the fact that FWAG Scotland disappeared sometime ago.  Presumably FAWG Cymru is suffering the same fate, but can anyone confirm this?

Visit to Northern Ireland for the NSA

I visited Northern Ireland at the invitation of the National Sheep Association to speak at two workshops: at Glenwherry in Co. Antrim and at Hilltown, close to the Mourne Mountains.  The Glenwherry event was written up in the Irish Farmers Journal and the article can be read here.

Sustainable Uplands - Richard May

Richard, as a Board member, is not just a star, he is now a star of stage and screen.  In this video, he supports Mark Reed, the project manager, in discussing the Sustainable Uplands project.

Sustainable Uplands Music Video

This video produced by the Sustainable Uplands Project, which I have been part of, captures the artistry of 20:20 Vision and presents some stunning images and video accompanied by compelling music.  Recommended watching for all with a passion for moorlands, uplands or bogs.  It serves to remind us of why we care about such areas.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Phytophthora Lateralis

The Forestry Commission has confirmed that this diseases has been found on Lawson Cypress trees in Devon.  For more detail see the FC website.

This is another variant of the diseases P. Ramorum and P. Kernoviae which have been associated with attacks on larch trees and also on bilberry & heather.  It is something that I am keeping a close eye on as these diseases have the potential to cause the loss of heather on a large scale.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Abbeystead Meeting

The Northern Farmer has published a report about the meeting at Abbeystead that followed the AGM on 27 September 2011.  See today's earlier post for views about sheep ticks arising from the meeting.

Tick Bites and Lyme disease

If you are seeking extra detail about Lyme disease, following the earlier post, may I draw your attention to the excellent Factsheet published by the Royal Forestry Society?

Of particular note is the photograph of the 'bullseye' rash.  If you see one of these, it is time for prompt action.

Sheep Ticks - Farmers Guardian

The meeting we held at Abbeystead on the back of the AGM, on 27 September has resulted in some press coverage about sheep ticks in the Farmers Guardian.  This is good to see as there has been little recent coverage about the threat that sheep ticks pose to livestock and upland bird populations through the diseases they spread.  We should not ignore the link to the human disease, Lyme disease.  Also, sheep ticks are closely associated with dense stands of bracken as they benefit from the deep litter.

The three articles can be viewed here:
   Why worry about sheep ticks?
   Climate change could make ticks more of a threat
   Ticks are proving a persistent problem on a Lancashire farm  Malcolm Handley is a member of the Trust.

My thanks go to Neil Ryder, who is now a freelance journalist.  He attended the Abbeystead meeting and  these articles followed.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Time to prey on predators

See the article by Robin Page in this morning's Telegraph.

"We must cull the killing machines now if we are to preserve the balance of nature in this country."

Thursday, 27 October 2011

CAP reform - A Highland Council view

See the article by James Miller (in the John O'Groats Journal) on the discussions that took place in the Land, Environment & Sustainability Strategy Group of the Highland Council.  This comments on the proposed introduction of Vulnerable Areas.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Asulam - Formation of a Bracken Control Group

As part of the response to the ban on Asulam, it has been decided to set up a Bracken Control Group and I have been asked to coordinate the activities of the Group.

This has been in the offing for some time and I think it is a very logical step, and will serve to coordinate all interests in bracken and its control.

There is much to be done to develop an appropriate response to the ban on Asulam and to seek to ensure that bracken control programmes that are relying on this product can continue in some form.

A quick update to the bracken control website has been carried and more work will follow to allow this resource to be used by the Group.  A newsletter has been circulated to people I have been in touch with about Asulam already.  This can be downloaded from the website and there is a Sign Up option for anyone who would like to receive future copies direct.

Monday, 24 October 2011

CAP Reform 2013 Update

For those wanting a short cut to a summary of the proposed reforms, I can recommend the Smiths Gore update .

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Supporting Sporting Interests

I would like to draw your attention to the article on p32 in the Autumn Edition of SNH's in house magazine The Nature of Scotland.  The article goes under a title of Supporting Sporting Interests and comes out strongly in support of the wider benefits offered by sporting management.  

The article acknowledges that "conservation, hunting and fishing interests have many of the same goals" and "at the heart of a strong country sports industry lies a healthy wildlife resource".  These are welcome comments indeed and I doubt that any supporters of the Trust will disagree with these sentiments.  Well done SNH!

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Abbeystead Meeting - 27 September 2011

A Summary of the presentations and the discussion that took place at this meeting can be found on the News Page of the website.  The Summary covers the highlights of the presentations from the Abbeystead Estate and Natural England and the message I gave on behalf of the Trust.

This summary is not intended to reflect every part of the presentations or the discussion, and I would welcome any comments, form those who ere there, or others on related matters.  Please feel free to use the comment function on this Blog - do not be shy!

My thanks go to the speakers and all who attended.

Asulam - Moorland Forum's Letter to The Scotsman

The Scotsman has published a letter about Asulam, under the 'interesting' title of 'Moor the Merrier', sent by Scotland's Moorland Forum to the Editor.

The published letter can be seen here and the original letter can be viewed on the Forum's website.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Asulam - The Farmer's Guardian View

See the online article by Ben Briggs, published today.

GWCT - Grouse management training course

The Grouse Keeper’s Course will take place 4-6 November 2011 on managed grouse moors in Glen Esk, Angus. The itinerary taps into the unique knowledge of well-respected grouse keepers and that of GWCT advisory and research staff to provide a solid understanding of these game birds and their needs.

Key topics will include:  Heather burning, Tick and louping ill control, Grit and direct dosing, Strongyle worm counting, Heather beetle, Grazing management, Bracken control, Black grouse habitats, Latest developments (including legal) in hill predator control techniques, New methods of counting red grouse and shoot planning

The hands-on course will also explore the wider conservation benefits from managing these species.

The cost of the course is £362 per person, excluding VAT and accommodation. Good accommodation is available nearby.

For more information see the Flyer and to book a place, contact Lynda Ferguson, tel: 01425 651013; email:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Asulam - Supply update from UPL

United Phosphorus Ltd has provided an update about Asulam that confirms the supply situation.  This confirms the advice for all landowners & managers, who want to apply Asulam next year, to contact a helicopter company or their Asulam distributor by 31 October 2011.

UPL also makes it clear that orders should be limited to the amount of Asulam required for next year's bracken control programme.

Asulam - Emergency Authorisations

The Chemical Regulations Directorate has provided guidance on the use of Emergency Authorisations under the latest regulations.  These will be essential to maintain the ability to apply Asulam during the period between the end of the use-up period on 31 December 2012 and the date that Asulam is re-registered for use.  Re-registration will not take place until 2016, at the earliest.

A key development is the removal in the latest regulations of the need for the requirement for the Emergency Authorisation to have been 'unforeseen'.

The advice from CRD can be viewed in the letter sent to UPL, today.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Asulam - some good news

There is a route that can be followed to make Asulam available into the future.

The meeting organised by United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL) took place in York, yesterday.  In advance of a more detailed statement from UPL, I provide a snapshot of the outcomes of the meeting.  Many uncertainties remain, and there is much detail still to be considered and clarified, but there is a good possibility that the use of Asulam can be retained in the long, medium and short terms.

Long Term

  1. UPL will be reapplying for registration of Asulam in the EU.  This is an investment of many £100,000s and is very much welcomed.
  2. It may take 5 years from now to complete the registration process.
Medium Term
  1. The new EU regulations appear to make it possible to obtain a series of Emergency Authorisations that provide an application window of 120 days in a year.
  2. If application of Asulam is to continue without a break, Emergency Authorisations are likely to be required for 2013, 2014, 2015 and probably 2016, while the reapplication process takes place. 
Short Term
  1. Asulam will be available for 2012 under the use-up provisions.  
  2. The message is that as far as possible it will be business as usual.
  3. During 2012, the contractors (helicopter and ground based companies) will be able to apply Asulam for landowners and managers, providing it was purchased before 31 December 2011.
  4. The advice to landowners is to contact your contractor before 31 October 2011 to ensure your requirements can be met.  
Other points
  • Under the regime discussed in the meeting there will be no justification for 'panic buying'.
  • UPL will be able to meet requests to purchase the normal annual consumption of Asulam before the end of 2011, so that it can be made available for 2012.  
  • The contractors have a limited capacity and their activities are weather dependent.  It is unlikely that they will be able to cope with a surge in demand, next year. 
  • Defra and the Chemical Regulations Directorate of the Health & Safety Executive are the relevant agencies for the whole UK and they were represented at the meeting.  Their help in the process to date was gratefully acknowledged and their continuing support was welcomed.
  • The establishment of a Bracken Control Group will be considered as a way to represent the bracken control industry and provide support for the re-registration process.
Reminder of Key dates
  • 31 December 2011 - no sale, supply, transfer or promotion of products containing Asulam to take place after this date.
  • 31 December 2012 - end of the use-up period.  After this date it will be illegal to apply or store products containing Asulam in the EU. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Asulam - Statement from Defra

I am attending a meeting organised by United Phosphorus Ltd., tomorrow and expect that this will provide some information about the future.

In the meantime, I am attaching a statement that has been issued by Defra.  The most important point here is that Defra is prepared to consider Emergency Authorisations and they will be issuing guidance about this in due course. For the moment, no action is required by land owners and managers interested in using Asulam in the future.

Statement by Defra:

"The UK Government pushed hard for approval.  Although there were some weaknesses in the data supplied by the applicant company, the UK considered that the correct decision within the EU rules would have been approval with confirmatory data requirements.  We also highlighted the important role for asulam in the effective control of bracken in the UK and particularly in protecting habitats of high conservation value.  Seven other countries supported us but this was not enough to win the day.

The result is that the final date for products containing asulam to be sold or supplied is 31 December 2011.  A grace period of one year – ending 31 December 2012 – is then permitted for the storage and use of the product.  Those wishing to use asulam next year will need to make sure that they have made the necessary arrangements to obtain a supply of the product on or before 31 December 2011. 

Any questions on the exact operation of the grace periods for marketing and use of stocks can be addressed to the Communications Branch at the Chemicals Regulation Directorate of HSE: telephone 01904 455775, or by email to

The Government hopes that the company will submit a fresh application for EU approval  of asulam, addressing the concerns raised by the European Food Safety Authority which persuaded the Commission that asulam should not be approved.  However, it will not be possible for a new application to be made and processed in Europe before the end of 2012, as the whole process from receipt of application to approval will take several years

The Government has made it clear that it would be very prepared to consider applications for emergency authorisations to help bridge the gap between the expiry of the current approval and the eventual granting of a new one.  Officials are actively considering how this can best be taken forward so that the process is as simple as possible.  We will issue advice as soon as possible.  In the meantime, there will be no need for any applications for emergency authorisation to come forward  in the near future.  Those interested in the continuing use of asulam need take no action at this point.

The Abbeystead Meeting - 27 September 2011

The Trust's AGM took place at the Inn at Whitewell, on the south side of the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire yesterday.  This was followed by a discussion meeting, The Abbeystead Meeting, which included a visit to the Abbeystead Estate.  As the photo shows this event was blessed with perfect conditions and warm, September sunshine.  I will be posting more information from the event soon, but in the meantime I would like to express my thanks to the people who made this event possible:

  • His Grace The Duke of Westminster for allowing us access to the Abbeystead Estate;
  • Neil Kilgour, the Resident Agent for Abbeystead and our host for the day and a speaker at the meeting;
  • Neil Clark who stepped in at very short notice to represent Natural England's views at the meeting; and 
  • those who attended and contributed to the discussion during this event.
I remain convinced that meetings such as this are valuable, as they bring people from a range of backgrounds together.  Discussions during these events can challenge perceived ideas, but in a productive non-combative way.    It may not be possible to achieve complete consensus, but during discussion it is possible to establish what people and organisations really think as opposed to what they are prepared to say for public consumption.  We need some consensus, as without any it is harder, or even impossible to make progress on the difficult issues of the day.

One person said to me yesterday, the HT approach is welcomed because it is conciliatory.  It was an interesting and welcome comment and one that I am very happy to accept.  The approach is all about bringing people together rather than driving a divisive wedge between people and organisations who may have different views.   As a result of the cross-sector work we carry out, the Trust is, perhaps uniquely, able to promote this approach.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Asulam - Statement from United Phosphorus

The Chief Operating Officer for United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL) in Europe has issued a statement confirming the company's continuing support for Asulam.  He confirms that the company will "proactively seek a derogation for emergency use" and that they are "generating the relevant data set needed to support an application for EU approval, as well as an approval in each Membe State so that we can continue to supply the product in the future."  The full text of the statement can be downloaded here.

This is welcome news.  I am attending a meeting with UPL next Thursday, and will provide further updates as the plot unfolds.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Asulam - Reporting Scotland

The Asulam issue was covered on BBC Reporting Scotland this evening, with a few seconds of input from yours truly (don't blink!)  Follow this link and move to minute 14:00 for the 2:15 minutes of coverage.

More on the Asulam Ban

The Scotsman has published a follow up article to the one published on Saturday highlighting the potential impact of the ban of Asulam.

The Herald has published an article in Scotland with some high level quotes, using a certain amount of artistic license, bemoaning the decision to ban Asulam.

I am attempting to establish what the views of the main players are in the next few days.  I suspect it will be better to avoid knee-jerk reactions and develop a measured strategy to tackle this issue effectively with the support of the bracken control industry.  Consideration must be given to the industry working together so that we speak with one voice, rather than acting as a multi-headed beastie that would lead to mixed messages and confusion.

Inevitably, more information will follow.

Moorland Video Clips

If you are looking for a bit of light relief and some background information about moorland management, have a look at the video clips on the Moorland section of the BBC Nature website. There is some high-quality footage here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wildfire 2011 Conference

This conference was held in Buxton, 14-15 September 2011. I was pleased to be invited to give a presentation at the conference on the subject of “Preparing for Wildfire in the UK".

This presentation can be viewed here and drew on the experience I gained from attending the International Wildfire Conference in South Africa in May 2011.

One of the key messages I came back from South Africa with was that we need to plan for wildfire now, and not treat a wildfire event as exceptional. With climate change producing warmer, hotter summers, the wildfires of early May 2011, just as I left for South Africa, are likely to become more frequent.

As part of preparing for wildfire, I believe we also need to be bolder about reducing fuel loading and this means more prescribed burning and cutting. Maybe we do not need to be so precious about protecting our heathland vegetation.  If we do not manage it properly, it is likely that fire will do it for us and this could easily be at a time of year when great damage will be caused.

It is not if it burns, it is when.  

I plan to write an article pulling some of these ideas together, based on the discussions that took place at both wildfire conferences, and also drawing together some of my own ideas. I will publish this on the Trust's website, in due course.

Asulam - the appeal fails

The news from the appeal hearing is bad and the appeal has failed.  This means that Asulam will be removed from the list of chemicals approved for use in the EU.  It appears that there was not enough support from other Member States.

The expiry date for sale, supply and advertisement is 31 December 2011 and 31 December 2012 for storage and usage.  The Commission has argued that Member States have the scope to issue “emergency authorisations" nationally to tide them over the period required to make a new submission. If this happens, it is likely to take at least 4 years before a decision granting approval is taken in the EU.  Emergency authorisations would be the only option available for authorised use within this period.

I have not got my head round the options at this stage, and I will post more information as it becomes available.  In practical terms, it would appear that bracken control using Asulam will be possible next season (2012), but any extension beyond that will depend on emergency authorisation.

I fall back on the maxim that “where there is a will, there is a way".  I believe that the support for Asulam is considerable and therefore we must find the way so that it continues to be available.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Statement in Support of Asulam

An Appeal Committee meets on Tuesday, 20 September to review the registration of Asulam.  This will determine whether it will continue to be approved for use, and from my perspective this means whether it is available as a selective herbicide for the control of bracken.  It is a vital tool for bracken control; as well as being the only selective herbicide it is the only one that can be applied from the air.

To help Asulam's chances, I have been 'knocking on doors' this week to get support for a Statement highlighting the crucial role that Asulam plays in maintaining the conservation status of vast areas of the uplands and lowlands of the UK.  I have not forgotten the negative impact on, for example, the economics of sporting and agriculture or the human health risks associated with sheep ticks and Lyme disease, but if the Statement was to have any impact it needed to have a single message.  The conservation message has the widest appeal.

The Statement can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Meeting at Abbeystead - 27 September 2011

Following on from the AGM, the Trust has organised a discussion meeting to consider the management issues facing an upland estate, and this will include a site visit to part of the Abbeystead Estate.  The meeting will be held at the Inn at Whitewell, near Clitheroe.  More details here.

Although members will get priority, there are some places available at this meeting.  Please contact the Trust if this of interest.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Scotland's Moorland Forum - Upland Solutions

In my capacity as Secretary and now Director of Scotland's Moorland Forum, I provided a lot of the input to this project, from development of the concept to delivery of the final report.  It has been a lot of work, and much of this has been carried out over and above the work that has been funded through the Forum.  Therefore, I have to say that it is a valuable piece of work that has drawn some interesting conclusions.  I am not going to repeat the description of the project and the conclusions in this blog, but I recommend that anyone with an interest in the management of the uplands should at least take a look at the short Summary Report and have a read of the article published in the Press & Journal, yesterday, that provides a good overview.  If this information whets the appetite, there is plenty more reading material available!

For the reports, press releases and press articles, see the website.

Discussions will soon be taking place about how to apply the lessons learned and the conclusions drawn.  The concept of a task force is appealing as a way for the Forum to provide practical benefit over and above the exchange of information in meeting rooms, but we would need to find a way to fund this.  

The Importance of Peatlands

Building on a briefing I prepared for Scotland's Moorland Forum, I wrote an article for Scotland's 2020 Climate Group that has been published on the group's website.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Annual Report 2011

The Heather Trust's Annual Report was published yesterday, 11 August 2011, and circulated to all members of the Trust and some selected supporters.  In addition, Members receive a Supplement that provides additional information such as notification of the AGM and an extract from last years accounts.

As well as information about the work of the Trust, the Report contains 13 articles by guest authors covering a wide range of issues that relate to the work of the Trust.  With the author's permission,some of these articles will be made available on the Trust's website later in the year.  However, if you want to be at the cutting edge of opinion, a £40 subscription to the Trust will allow you to get this year's Report earlier and future copies as the Report is published.

See the Trust's website for the Contents List and details of how to join the Trust.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Spot the Heather Beetle Damage

Have you seen heather that looks like this?  If so you have probably been looking at heather that has been damaged by a heather beetle attack.  This can affect heather at different scales, from parts of plants to whole landscapes, and the foxy-red colour is the result of an attack by the beetle larvae this year.  Heather that was damaged or killed in previous years looks grey and is often inter-mingled with this year's damage.

If you would like to know more about this pest of heather, look no further than the Trust's website.

More on Upland Tracks

Tim Baynes has entered the debate and provides this view from Scottish Land & Estates:

The maintenance and upgrading of hill tracks is an important matter for upland management and deserves to be considered carefully.  Scottish Land & Estates have been working on this issue for many years, providing a briefing for MSPs in last year's Parliamentary debate and their response to the recent Permitted Development Rights consultation can be read in full here.

New road construction will always look unsightly for a year or two after it is done but if carried out according to SNH's Code of Practice, can heal over remarkably quickly.  Given the importance of these tracks for employee safety, wildlife management, public access, environmental protection and not
least, bird monitoring by RSPB staff, the presumption is that maintenance and upgrading to best practice standards should be facilitated, not unduly restricted, under Permitted Development Rights in all but the most sensitive of areas.  Best practice is the key and an excellent set of guidelines have
been agreed by SNH working with the industry and can be found here.