Friday, 15 September 2017

Wildfire - 2 million acres in the US are currently ablaze

See the web article for the full story.  "There are more than 100 active wildfires and at least 41 uncontained large blazes, battled by more than 25,000 responders, the National Guard, and half a battalion of active-duty soldiers."

It could never happen here ... or could it?  

If you want to know more about wildfire issues, come to the UK Wildfires Conference 2017 - "Wildfire resilience in a UK context" - that is being held in Bournemouth 7-8 November.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Why are still using peat in our gardens?

Photo: Murdo Macleod for The Guardian

"The government needs to give a shot of adrenalin to its commitment to phase out peat and support the industry to divest away from peat and keep what remains safely protected in the ground not the grow bag."

See the article in The Guardian.

The Heather Trust seeks a New Director

After 15 years as the Director of the Trust, the time has come to introduce some changes, and I am planning to step down as Director. I see this as an opportunity to introduce new blood and thinking into the way that the Trust operates, and for the Trust to refresh itself, introduce new ideas and move forward strongly, possibly in a new direction.

The search for my successor is about to start and a full handover will take place after a transition period, with the aim of completing this early in 2018.

After the end of a transition period, I will provide support for the Trust as a consultant. I will continue to manage a number of clearly defined tasks, which will include my role as the Director of Scotland’s Moorland Forum, with support from Anne Stoddart as Administrator, at least until the end of the current agreement in March 2019.

I am circulating details of this opportunity through the Trust’s networks and social media, and an advertisement is available here. I invite all members and supporters of the Trust to spread the word about this opportunity to people they are in contact with.

Expressions of interest are being invited by 12 noon on Tuesday, 10th October, and I will be pleased to speak to anyone who would like an informal discussion about the role. The Chairman and other Board members would also be pleased to hear from anyone with an interest in this position. To avoid placing personal contact details in the public domain, please use the Contact Form on the website to request details of how to contact me, or a member of the Board.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bracken Control Presentation - Argyll - 12 September 2017

For one night only ...
I will be giving a presentation to the Lorn Natural Heritage Group in Seil Island Hall, Ellenabeich, at 19:30 on Tuesday 12th September 2017.

Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), hated by many and loved by
few, is a proliļ¬c fern whose rhizomes are the key to its success, defending it against attack by most herbicides. Management is therefore a challenge: this talk, having considered why it needs to be controlled, will review the advantages and drawbacks of options available to those who seek to control it.

More details are on the Lorn NHG Facebook page.

England: Countryside Stewardship: Facilitation Fund 2017

The Countryside Stewardship (CS) facilitation fund has just opened for business.  Based on my experience of running an Objective 5b scheme in the Forest of Bowland in the late 1990s, I am a keen supporter of the role of a facilitator to bring people together and increase the impact of grant funding.  

I have included a bullet point summary of the main points but the website has links to more detailed guidance.

The fund aims to "support people and organisations that bring farmers, foresters, and other land managers together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale. This landscape scale approach can cover land under existing agri-environment and forestry/woodland agreements, common land and land not currently covered by a scheme. It builds on the principles of partnership working to deliver environmental benefits, as demonstrated by various initiatives, including farm clusters and the farmer-led Nature Improvement Area."

"Funding will be awarded to successful applications through a competitive process. Priority will be given to approaches which show partnership and a collective approach across holdings to deliver shared environmental outcomes that go beyond what could be delivered by individual holdings acting in isolation."

  • A holding is all the land managed by an applicant in England for agricultural and/or woodland activities. 
    • Where that holding or property is made up of geographically dispersed production or management units across England these can be entered separately. 
  • To qualify for funding, the group will have to undertake activities that are new to them as a result of cooperating.
  • The members of the group will need to manage an area which is sufficient in size to deliver Countryside Stewardship priorities set out in the statements of priorities for the area and that is at least 2,000 hectares (ha).  This threshold represents the size of the holdings, not the size of the area(s) of management activity. 
  • The area of land must be spread over a minimum of four adjoining, or largely adjoining, separate land holdings managed by different people 
  • A common is treated as one holding for the purpose of this funding and can join with non-commons to create the land area of the group. 
  • Applications will be scored against selection criteria, and those with the highest scores will be offered agreements subject to available budgets.
  • The maximum funding for a facilitator is dependent on the number of holdings involved in the group and the work that the facilitator does. With 4 holdings a facilitator could receive up to £12,000 per annum, which comprises £500 per holding and up to £10,000 for costs of delivering the cooperation. 
  • Agreement length: 3 years. 
  • Application deadline: 14 November 2017.