Monday, 6 October 2014

A New Chairman for The Heather Trust

Antony Braithwaite
At the AGM last week, we said good-bye and thank you to Malcolm Hay after seven years as our Chairman and welcomed Antony Braithwaite as his successor.  In accepting the position, Antony acknowledged the work of his predecessor that had helped to guide the Trust to the most influential time in its 30 year history.  He hoped to continue the upward trend and to ensure that the Trust was well respected and influential throughout the UK.

Finzean House meeting
The AGM was held in the marvellous setting of Finzean House, near Banchory in Aberdeenshire.  This is the home of Donald and Catriona Farquharson and the family turned out in force to support first the AGM and then the discussion meeting that followed.  The discussion meeting was attended by 29 people and was hosted by Andrew Farquharson, who manages the Finzean Estate.  The Estate was the winner of the Golden Plover Award this year, which the Trust awarded in conjunction with Adam Smith (Director Scotland for GWCT and a HT Board member), who was also present at the meeting.  Dr Dick Birnie opened a few eyes with his presentation about peatlands and why the owners and managers of land need to take note of the output of the research into these important areas.

Finzean Estate visit
The whole day was blessed by glorious weather and we were able to make good use of this in the afternoon, when Andrew Farquharson led us on a visit to inspect the estate's management of the heather against the continuous cover woodland. The whole day served as a great demonstration of why the Finzean Estate was a worthy winner of the Golden Plover Award.

Grouse: Time for a Gritting Holiday?

The GWCT Blog contains this post by Hugo Straker advising caution in the repeated use of medicated grit.

I am far from being a grouse expert, but I am surprised by the response I get during advisory visits about worm burdens in grouse and the gritting policy. I often get the reply that worm burdens are not being assessed and that medicated grit is being used as a prophylactic measure.

There are two issues here: the cost and the build up of resistance to the dugs in medicated grit.  I understand the need to reduce every risk it is possible to manage, but I would have thought a modest expenditure in blood testing would show whether the high cost of medicated grit would be justified.  However, the risk of the build of resistance to worm treatment offered by medicated grit is by far the most important issue.  Medicated grit has been shown to be a fantastic tool, but its use needs to be targeted; it should not just be used as a precautionary measure, however tempting.