Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Wildfire Conference - 10-11 November, Cambuslang, near Glasgow

"Prevention Better than Cure"

The ‘Wildfires 2015 - Prevention Better Than Cure’ conference and exhibition will be held at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Training College, Cambuslang, Glasgow on Tuesday, 10th and Wednesday, 11th November.

Held on a bi-annual basis, the wildfire conferences and exhibitions held in the UK have focused on sharing knowledge about this threat to open landscapes in the UK. Against a background set by climate change forecasts that indicate the number and scale of wildfire incidents are likely to increase, this year the emphasis of the conference will be on reducing the risk of damage from wildfire, which is of importance to the Fire & Rescue Services (FRS) and stakeholders alike. 

The conference is being staged at the Scottish FRS's state of the art training centre in Cambuslang. The conference will be an opportunity to bring together not only leading personnel from the UK and abroad, but there will also be a diverse range of specialists representing the UK FRSs, land & estate managers, insurers, environmental & conservation organisations, and the planning and policy sectors.

The programme includes some excellent sessions on a range of important issues related to wildfire prevention. Keynote speakers are now confirmed from California, New Zealand and Italy, providing some important and insightful international contributions. The other presenters come from the far corners of the UK and represent a wide variety of stakeholder organisations. There will also be exhibition stands from equipment suppliers and poster presentations of recent and current cutting-edge wildfire research. This is a 'must see' event for anyone in the UK who is involved or interested in wildfire prevention.

The conference programme can be downloaded and other details about the Conference (costs, booking form, accommodation etc) can be viewed on the SFRS website.

Please pass this information to any friends and colleagues who may be interested in attending this event.

The conference is being fully supported by the Scottish Wildfire Form, The England & Wales Wildfire Forum and the Chief Fire Officer's Association Wildfire Group. The Forums are taking advantage of the opportunity to hold a joint meeting as a way to enhance the links within the 'wildfire community' in the UK.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Different Approach to Road Building on Bogs from Canada

The Canadians appear to have a big problem with providing access across bogs to service their oil and gas industry (have you watched Ice Road Truckers?!).

Edmonton-based Paradox Access Solutions is using nano-engineered material in a honeycomb structure to make resilient temporary roads over sometimes unstable ground.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Graze the Moor Project Meeting - Molland, Exmoor - 16 Sep 15

Cattle on Molland Moor - 16 Sep 15
I ran the annual stakeholder event for this project on Molland Moor, on the south side of Exmoor, yesterday.

The project seeks to monitor the impact of changes to the grazing regime, that includes the re-introduction of winter grazing on the moor by cattle.  The aim is to improve the moor while at the same time providing income for the farm businesses that use the moor.  The project is acting as a focus for a lot of activity and this includes an annual stakeholder meeting to report on the progress of the project.

A new feature of the project in the last 12 months is the development of a Molinia Control Trial.  This seeks to identify the best way to move from Molinia dominance to a more mixed cover of vegetation.  One of the techniques being tested is the spray-burn-reseed approach that was developed by Geoff Eyre in the Peak District. This trial has only just started and we will report on developments as the work progresses.

We attracted a total of 33 delegates to the meeting yesterday, and in true Heather Trust style, it was good to see a large number of different interest groups represented at the meeting.

Full team photo - Molland Moor, 16 Sep 15

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Upland Stakeholders Forum and the Upland Outcomes Approach

I attended the meeting of the Upland Stakeholder Forum (USF) in London, last week. 

The remit of this cross-sector group is to consider upland issues in England, and after some updates, the focus of the meeting was on the Outcomes Approach that is being rolled out by Natural England (NE).  

This initiative was the subject of the five workshops that I ran for NE in different parts of the English Uplands in March, this year, and the Summary Report that I produced for NE is available to download. I also reported on these workshops in the Trust’s Annual Report, this year.

What is the Outcomes Approach?  In simple terms, it involves Natural England working more closely with stakeholders to achieve an agreed, shared vision for land, including the uplands. Flexibility is part of the concept so that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will be avoided. 

For this Approach to achieve its potential it needs to be adopted fully by NE and all stakeholders. During the meeting, the Moorland Association confirmed that the Approach has been promoted to its members and NE outlined how they have been working to introduce the concept to its staff; they recognise that it will require a bit of a culture shift. 

I am a great supporter of this initiative, which I think offers benefits for NE, stakeholders and above all, the English uplands. In my view, it is long overdue, and I am keen to support the roll out of the Approach. I would like to see more demonstration events being held, as part of the promotion process, as I believe that the ‘talk & walk’ style of event is a powerful way to communicate with NE stakeholders and staff  alike.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Bracken Control: End of the Asulam Emergency Authorisation Period

As Coordinator of the Bracken Control Group, I successfully applied for the Emergency Authorisation (EA) that has allowed Asulam to be used for bracken control this summer.

Asulam is currently not registered for use in the EU and it can only made available under emergency provisions. The 120-day authorisation period expires today, but we now enter a use-up period that runs until the end of October. During the use-up period it is still possible to store and apply asulam, and if you have any in unopened containers it is possible to return stocks to the manufacturer through your distributor. From 1 November 2015, it will be illegal to store Asulam.

I have drafted the application for a further EA in 2016, and if successful, this will allow the use of Asulam to continue for a further year. The registration process will hopefully lead to the registration of the product for use in the EU once again, but the response to this application is not expected until the end of 2016, at the earliest. In the meantime, the Bracken Control Group will be working with the UK authorities to maintain a continuous supply of Asulam, which is so important to maintain biodiversity in our lowlands and uplands.

For more information see the Bracken Control website.