Friday, 12 December 2014

Wednesday: London - Upland Stakeholder Meeting

This was a day that I got some train miles under my belt.  The first leg was Dumfries to London and this was followed by catching the sleeper to Aviemore.

The draw of London was the Upland Stakeholder Forum meeting that is run by Defra.  It has been going about three years and is getting into its stride.  The role that is developing for this Forum is to provide a strategic framework for all upland issues.  However, the Group highlighted that the most important function for Defra is to show leadership and give direction to the discussions about the many and varied upland issues.

Lord de Mauley, the Defra Minister attended part of the meeting to hear at first hand about some of the issues.

We discussed the formation of the Uplands Alliance, and how a reformed Best Practice Burning Group might relate to the USF as a Best practice Group to represent the views and experience of practitioners.  The Group also discussed the proposal for Defra to facilitate a large application for LIFE funds (~£100m) to deliver improvements in peatland management across the UK over a 10 year period.  I am impressed by the scale of this thinking and it is exactly the sort of work that Defra should be tackling to show leadership.

The Forum also allows an opportunity for members to share ideas and news of up and coming events.  Topics included CAP Reform, the Defra sponsored Hen Harrier initiative, and Natural England's Upland Outcomes Framework.  Some of this falls well short of being riveting but the Forum provides a useful opportunity to air this sort of information.

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