Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Heather Beetle News

Adult Heather Beetle
I have published a Heather Beetle newsletter to draw attention to the fact the the heather beetle season is in full swing.  Reports are coming in of extensive areas of damage in the Peak District and the Northern Pennines and these are balanced by reports from Scotland and Exmoor.

Heather beetle damage on heather
The Trust is continuing to run a survey of outbreaks and if you spot a heather beetle attack please send us details.  There is more information, and a map showing the location of previous reports, on the Trust's website.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wales: Commons & Glastir

Grazing Associations planning to sign up to the Glastir Common Land element 2013 contract should remember to complete and return their application by 31 August 2012.  More info.

From 2012, Glastir will replace the existing agri-environment schemes, and will  pay for the delivery of specific environmental goods and services aimed at: combating climate change;improving water management; and, maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.  It is designed to deliver measurable outcomes at both a farm and landscape level in a cost effective way.  More info about Glastir

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Scottish Government & Aerial Bracken Control

The Scottish Government's Rural Issues newsletter contains a link to the bracken control that has been taking place in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park for the benefit of Black Grouse (see the 18 August post).  It may have been a slow news day in Edinburgh, but it is good to see support from this source for the aerial control of bracken.

HT in The Scotsman

Bracken Control was covered in an article in The Scotsman yesterday and follows an interview I gave to a freelance journalist.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Cairngorms NPA Vacancy - Land Management Adviser

Land Management Adviser 
Full time (37.5 hours/week), permanent contract, based in Grantown-on-Spey.  Band D (£27,374 - £32,951)
The Cairngorms National Park Authority is looking for a Land Management Adviser to develop strong working relationships with farmers and land managers in the Park. This includes developing and co-ordinating a new programme of advice and support leading to SRDP (Scotland Rural Development Programme) uptake; facilitating further development of the Farmers Forum; and other initiatives to help land managers operate effectively. The successful applicant will have understanding and experience of land management activities in the National Park, as well as knowledge of SRDP.
For a detailed job description and application pack, or if you require any adjustments to be made to the application process due to disability, please contact Laura Grant on 01479 870500 or email recruitment@cairngorms.co.ukThe closing date for receipt of completed applications is noon on Friday 14 September and interviews will be held on Monday 8 October.

More Bracken Control Coverage

The Farmers Guardian has published a video that includes footage taken from a helicopter over the North York Moors and interviews with a gamekeeper (Rob Burrows) and Nicholas Hawkings-Byass, representing the aerial spraying contractors.  The video addresses the points made in the press release issued by the Moorland Association.

Today, The Daily Telegraph has published a letter from Martin Callanan MEP that endorses the concerns expressed by the Moorland Association.

Well done the Moorland Association.  More please!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bracken Control in Loch Lomond National Park

Photo: Forestry Commission
See the article on the Grough website that describes a collaborative project, the Callander Black Grouse Project, that operates across 6 farms and estates in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.  The project has attracted funding of £720,000 from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.
The project includes a bracken control programme that aims to improve the habitat for Black grouse.  There are quotes from Scot Nisbet at LL&TNPA and from me.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Squeezed Middle Debate - 30 August 2012

I have been invited to be on the panel for this debate, representing Scotland's Moorland Forum - details below

The Squeezed Middle Debate: Addressing conflicting land use demands in Scotland
30 August 2012, 1.30pm to 4.30pm

The Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PQ

The ‘Squeezed Middle’ is the land zones which exist between quality farmland and high mountains, in which it is especially challenging to plan the right blend of land uses to best meet policy objectives and societal demands.

This land (Macaulay Land Capability for Agriculture Classes 3.2 -6.1) can support livestock farming, some arable production, forestry and sporting ground. It delivers many societal benefits, such as the provision of clean water, renewable energy sources and high levels of biodiversity interest. The quality of landscape or native woodland habitats can also impose policy restrictions on some land uses. Getting the right mix of multifunctional outputs on this finite resource is a complex issue. 

The Land Use Strategy for Scotland (2011) outlines the overarching policy framework, however land use policy is multifaceted and is becoming increasingly complex and often contradictory.

Join us to debate the future of the 'Squeezed Middle'. Using scientific evidence, the debate will highlight the potential conflicts and offer some options for future land use under different policy scenarios.

National campaign against moorland bog-burning

Environmental campaigners to set up Ban the Burn in response to the support now being given to Walshaw Moor following the collapse of the public inquiry.  See the The Northerner Blog post in The Guardian article for more information.

The tenuous link is made between grouse shooting, burning and flooding and this appears to be at the root of the campaign.  I have every sympathy with the residents of Hebden Bridge who have been flooded out, but I do not think that grouse shooting is the problem.  The analogy of the uplands being a sponge is now seen as old hat: when the uplands are saturated with water, as happens in summers like this one, they will behave like saturated sponges and water will run off them. Fast.  

What we need is carefully balanced management of our upland areas and yes that takes money and the biggest source of this in many parts of our uplands is grouse shooting.  Grouse moor owners and their employees are the most experienced people for moorland management.

Some people may not like the concept of grouse shooting, but maybe the residents of Hebden Bridge, and in other similar places, would be better advised to tolerate this, if not actively support it, in the interests of getting the moorland that surrounds their homes properly managed and therefore better able to reduce the risk of downstream flooding.  Unmanaged moorland is an accident waiting to happen - wildfires and flooding being two of the biggest risks.

Friday, 10 August 2012

RSPB Review of Grouse Moor Management

The full title of the review is: The costs and benefits of grouse moor management to biodiversity and aspects of the wider environment and it is available to download.

The covering e-mail that announced the publication of the review states:
"In recognition of the need to understand the value of grouse management, the RSPB has undertaken a review of the scientific evidence on the environmental consequences of grouse moor management.  Through the review, we seek to set out an objective view of the current state of our knowledge on the impact of grouse moor management, considering the scientific evidence for both beneficial and detrimental effects of the associated management on biodiversity and ecosystem services."

Although clearly well-researched, at first sight this is pretty dry reading and I am not sure that it takes us any further forward.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Heather Trust at Balmoral

It was a privilege and an honour to represent the Trust at the Garden Party hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral on 7th August.  It is only the second garden party she has held at Balmoral, which made the event particularly special.

The Trust's Chairman was present in his own right and many members, friends and supporters of the Trust attended.  It was a very memorable occasion.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Heather Trust Annual Report

The Trust's Annual Report has been published and sent by post to all Members and selected people working in the UK uplands.

Some of the articles will be placed on the Trust's website during September, but if anyone would like a copy ahead of this, we would be delighted to receive their application for membership! A snip at £40 per annum.

JHI Debate: The Squeezed Middle - 30 Aug 12

Photo: JHI
I will be on the panel for the first of a series of debates organised by the James Hutton Institute.

'The Squeezed Middle' debate will take place on 30 August 2012, 1.30-4.30pm at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is aimed to appeal to researchers, policymakers and stakeholders. 

It is free!  To register see the JHI webpage.

"The debate will focus on the land zones which exist between quality farmland and high mountains, in which it is especially challenging to plan the right blend of land uses to best meet policy objectives and societal demands."

Other panellists are: Professor Des Thompson, Scottish Natural Heritage; Professor Bill Slee, James Hutton Institute; and Dr Andrew Barbour, Forestry Commission Scotland.