Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

See the NASA video that shows how our weather can be monitored by tracking the aerosols in the atmosphere.

While this is of general interest, and you can only guess at the computer power required to produce this short video, the relevance to The Heather Trust's activities is in the large volume of smoke from the wildfires in Portugal in the western USA & Canada.  The area of the globe affected by this smoke is probably large enough to have an influence on weather patterns.

Another reason for taking the threat of wildfire seriously!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Woodlands in Scotland : Where have all the flowers gone?

Photo: Kate Holl
Is the grazing balance in Scottish woodlands correct?  Kate Holl, the SNH woodland advisor, provides a view following her Churchill Fellowship exploring woodland in other countries.

Grazing can be excluded from some woodland, but we must not ignore the practicalities of life.  We need woodlands to provide timber and deer and sheep to provide management input and the income to pay for other forms of management.  A completely hands off approach for all woodlands, as proposed by some members of the re-wilding lobby, is too extreme.  Perhaps the answer is a mix and match approach - some unmanaged woodland alongside woodland used for other purposes.

Conservation "needs people in boots, not people in suits"

See Matt Ridley on the announcement by Michael Gove about the plans to set up a new statutory body, “independent of government” with “clear authority” whose job is to “uphold environmental standards”.

We do not need more quangos, we want better direction from the 'suits' to the 'boots' that reflects the needs of businesses, the environment and communities. Gaining the trust and input from those who manage the land (people in boots) is an essential part of the process, as no changes can be delivered until these people are influenced to do something. The rest of us (suits in boots, or just plan suits) should be seen to be supporting those who manage the land to achieve what society wants. 

We should be putting more, not less, power in the hands of the 'boots' who understand how the countryside, and in my case the uplands, works.  

Friday, 10 November 2017

Lynx and sheep

Photo: Farmers Guardian

It is claimed that the escaped 'pet' Lynx in Wales has killed seven sheep.  Have a look at the Farmers Guardian article and see what you think.  Is it appropriate to risk more of this in our uplands? 

I believe that sheep play a vital role to play in our uplands in terms of generating income to keep farmers on the land and for managing the habitat.  We do not need further challenges to this management.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

"A New Direction for Scottish Land Management"

In the uncertainty that surrounds the future of our uplands and moorlands, it is essential that a clear case needs to be made for what we, those who are actively engaged in the management of the  uplands and moorlands, want.  Without this clear statement, we may end up with something that the politicians and civil servants believe we want, which may be rather different.

Without strong justification, the uplands and moorlands may lose out to schools, hospitals and other drains on the government's budget.  It is a fact that the competing claims on the budget are likely to attract more votes than 'messing about in the hills'.

The possibility of developing an Upland Vision in Scotland has been kicked around for several years, and arguably it is needed more than ever now, to fill the vacuum in thinking about the future.  This was discussed during the meeting of Scotland's Moorland Forum, yesterday, and as a result, Forum members will be considering how they can take some initiative.

Scottish Land & Estates has published A New Direction for Scottish Land Management, and the organisation believes that in future:

  • It will be increasingly important that farming and forestry are able to put forward the strongest justification for ongoing public investment in these sectors.
  • There should be a greater emphasis on farming and land management delivering public goods, such as helping mitigate flooding, providing clean water, enhancing biodiversity or reducing carbon emissions.
  • In the shorter-term, enhancing the profitability of our land-based businesses needs to be a top priority.
I can support the SL&E approach, and I think it is a very good starting point for a wider discussion about what we want for these areas.  if we do not know, who does?