Sunday, 20 January 2013

Business is Booming for Young Gamekeepers

The Telegraph carried an article on 10 January reporting that record numbers of Scottish youngsters are getting jobs as gamekeepers after completing specialist courses.

College leaders claimed the increase in graduates entering the industry showed measures they had taken to rectify the comments in a recent survey were taking effect.  The survey had been commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage, and carried out by LANTRA; it indicated that the Scottish game and wildlife industry was dominated by an ageing male work-force.

Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association was quoted, "In the classrooms, [the students] are learning about conservation and legislation affecting the countryside. They are articulate, well-qualified individuals with a pride in their role and estates are employing them, creating youth jobs at a time when the economy is faltering and young people, especially in remote areas, have few other opportunities."

The shift towards formal qualification is an interesting development.  A piece of paper will not make an unsuitable candidate into a great gamekeeper, but it will provide an indication of a skill level and an aptitude for the work.  This job is not for everyone - the unsocial hours and the nature of the job requires a dedication and a level of skill that goes way beyond what can be accumulated in a college course.

However, is the acceptance and success of the formal qualification route to becoming a gamekeeper a sign of change?  Maybe the rural industries have existed for too long on 'grandfather rights' and we need to embrace formal training in more places.  I am dealing with the review of the Muirburn Code in Scotland and I suspect that one of the issues that will be raised for consideration as part of the review will be whether formal training should be a prerequisite for carrying out muirburn.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Help improve rural mobile coverage

This post is reprinted from the Countryside Alliance Grass e-route Weekly e-newsletter published on 10th January 2013

"We all know somewhere we cannot get a mobile signal, especially in the countryside. This is frustrating and unfair, considering that, as consumers, we all pay the same wherever we live, but get wildly different levels of service. 

The Countryside Alliance is working to change this and we need your help to show Government and mobile operators where coverage is poorest with a view to taking action.

If you have a smartphone or know someone who does, download the free app from RootMetrics that allows you to test the speed of your mobile internet and the mobile signal strength - at any time, in any place.

With the push of a button, the app measures your mobile network performance and gives immediate feedback on what sort of service you are getting.

The results are then combined with readings from others in your area to create a map showing which mobile operator is best. This can be viewed online here. The Countryside Alliance will also be working with RootMetrics to get information about the readings you make so we can prove that service is poor and action needs to be taken."

Download the app

Friday, 4 January 2013

Heather Beetle - a knowledge summary

See Patrick Laurie's blog post that provides a summary of our current state of knowledge about heather beetle.

Hopes for asulam derogation in battle against bracken

See the article in the Farmer's Guardian that summarises the situation with the use of asulam products to control bracken.  It is now illegal to store asulam products anywhere in the EU, but we hope that the Emergency Authorisation procedure will come to aid of all those who seek to control bracken.  This is a temporary, gap-filling measure, but it provides a route to allow existing bracken control schemes to continue and new ones to start.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bracken Control: Asulam ban now complete

It became illegal to hold any asulam products, on 1 January 2013.

I am waiting to hear the outcome of an application for an Emergency Authorisation, which if successful, will allow use of asulam products during a limited period, this summer.  I submitted the application on behalf of the Bracken Control Group and the Advisory Committee on Pesticides will be meeting to consider it, at the end of January.

As soon as I know more, I will circulate details through the Bracken Control Newsletters and this Blog.

The Heritage Journal contains an article that reinforces the impact that bracken rhizomes can have on archaeology.  

The concerns about the loss of the most important bracken control agent goes far and wide.  This article emphasises that the concerns embrace a very wide and diverse range of organisations, and provides more incentive, if it were needed, to make sure that every effort is made to return asulam products to their former status.