Thursday, 25 August 2016

GWCT: 2016 Grouse Season Briefing

As the grouse season gets into full swing, GWCT has published a briefing that provides a useful summary of their 2016 grouse counts.  It also covers their leadership on a range of moorland and upland research and their input into other initiatives, that includes the projects I am running for Scotland's Moorland Forum.

Bracken as a Biofuel and Cutting Demonstrations

Sticking with the bracken theme established by the previous post, Oakland Biofuels Ltd is promoting the ability to produce bio-ethanol from bracken.  One of the challenges for using bracken as a crop is how to harvest it - bracken often grows on steep and inaccessible ground - but Oakland Biofuels think they have an answer.  The company is running a series of events to demonstrate some very capable, German equipment to help with the harvesting.

Thursday, 01 September 2016
Shapley Common, Dartmoor
Monday, 05 September 2016
Dinas Mawwdwy, Wales SY20 9LX
Wednesday, 07 September 2016
Annandale, Dumfries-shire
Friday, 09 September 2016
Blair Atholl, Perthshire

Scottish Land & Estates is promoting the events in Scotland and their website has more details about the Scottish events and it also includes more background information about the harvesting opportunities and links to videos showing the impressive capabilities of the harvesting equipment.  

If you would like to attend any of these events, please register your interest with Jeremy Oakley at Oakland Biofuels Ltd:

Tel: 01686 651370

Bracken for heating

Brackenburn is producing braquettes from harvested bracken, which burn hotter than oak and produce ash with a high potash content.   It's a nice idea to turn a problem into a crop that pays for the harvesting and produces something that heats your home.

Today's edition of Farming Today had a piece (03:25 - 07:45) about Brackenburn that included an interview with Barry Smith, and to learn more about this product, visit the website.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Petition: Protect Grouse Moors and Grouse shooting

Revised 24 August

Whatever your perceptions about grouse shooting, I urge you to consider the Countryside Alliance briefing 'Grouse Shooting - the Facts' that is promoted by this petition.  This briefing was prepared by the Countryside Alliance as part of the build up to the start of the grouse season on 12th August, with a view to introducing some factual information into the debate.

Management for grouse may not be perfect, but it is reacting to change brought about by increasing knowledge and understanding of the importance of moorland beyond simply producing grouse.  For example, the move to enhance peatland, and the embracing of management for the benefit of moorland waders.  

In my travels around the country, I witness the passion and knowledge of grouse keepers at first hand; they are a force for good and worthy of support.

It is interesting to look at the interactive map of where the petition has been signed.  There are some interesting hotspots and very few areas where the petition has not received any support.  As I started to write this article, the petition had 9,649 - it has gone up by 13 since then.  It is on track to achieve the threshold of 10,000 signatures required to achieve a response from the government.

The introductory page is here and the petition runs for six months, until 15 February 2017.  If you have not already signed the petition, I recommend it to you.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Don't let eco-zealots wreck this chance to save the hen harrier

Philip Merricks is chairman of the Hawk and Owl Trust, manager of two National Nature Reserves, and of two former RSPB reserves. He was appointed MBE in 1999 for services to conservation.  Read his article in The Telegraph

It is a pleasure to read an article in this vexed area that I can endorse unreservedly.  We need the balanced approach set out in this article to bring different views together and achieve some consensus.  Philip describes the approach of eco-zealots, or perhaps eco-terrorists, and the harm they can do.  

I emphasise a key point from the article: "To alienate those who manage the overwhelming proportion of the habitats of birds of prey is a huge mistake. Conservationists need farmers, landowners and gamekeepers on side, for it is they alone who have the ability to manage the majority of the countryside and its wildlife."  

The importance of the role played by farmers, landowners and gamekeepers in delivering the uplands and moorlands we all want is driving my thinking about the world we want to see post-Brexit. It is easy to criticise upland and moorland management; it will never be perfect, but the detractors are not able to come up with a better, viable model that meets all the requirements of: conservation, communities, ecosystem services, landscape, tourism, employment, income generation, access, and all the other potentially conflicting challenges.

If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong! Just because someone has a different view, does not mean they are wrong.  We need to work together, with respect for other views, with a clear view of the best way to achieve agreed objectives.