Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Scottish Borders Land Use Strategy Pilot - Public Meetings


Scottish Borders Land Use Strategy pilot
‘Consultation on the draft Framework and
Map based information’
Please come along to one of the 4 public meetings being held across the Borders to discuss the draft Land Use Framework:

Wednesday January 14th - Kirkhope hall, Ettrickbridge - 7.30pm.
Tuesday January 20th - Reston village hall - 7.30pm.
Wednesday January 21st - Eddleston village hall - 7.30pm.
 Tuesday January 27th - Midlem village hall - 7.30pm.

An example map of the multiple benefits which can be achieved when implementing natural flood management measures

Evening Programme for the Consultation Events

After almost 18 months of widespread discussion, the draft Land Use Framework and Maps are available for public consultation and we are hosting a series of LUS pilot consultation events. At these events, a short presentation will be made on the draft Framework document. This will be followed by a discussion regarding the various maps generated. More information is available overleaf. It would be appreciated if you could let us know of your intention to attend, by e-mailing:

Kind Regards
Derek Robeson, Tweed Forum

Scottish Borders pilot regional Land Use Framework: Consultation Questions

The consultation documents and maps are available to view for your interest and comment on the Council's website at:

A set of consultation questions is also available on the Council's website for completion via an online web form, or via a download document if you prefer to submit your response by email or post to lus@scotborders.gov.uk or Land Use Strategy pilot consultation, Built & Natural Heritage, Regulatory Services, Newtown St Boswells TD6 0SA. The closing date for consultation responses is 16th February 2015.

Ahead of the meeting, it would be beneficial to have looked at the on-line documents, and maps, so we can discuss them. The questions are listed below:

Question 1:
Does the Framework document provide enough background information to explain the pilot?

Question 2:
Are you satisfied with the process undertaken to produce the Framework?

Question 3:
Are you satisfied with the stakeholder consultation undertaken to produce the Framework?

Question 4:
Are you satisfied with the content and clarity of the maps shown?:
      i)   Do you have any comments on the stock maps of natural capital?
      ii)  Do you have any comments on the opportunity maps and key policy drivers?
      iii)  Do you have any comments on the interaction maps?
      iv)  Do you have any comments on the potential multiple benefit maps?

Question 5:
Are the mapped sets of interactions between different potential land uses (constraints on possible land use options) together with the maps of potential multiple benefits helpful in guiding decisions about possible land use change?

Question 6
i)               Can you give an indication of how you might use the mapped information?
ii)              What other elements might help make this easier for your use?

Question 7
Are you satisfied with the Interim action plan?

Question 8:
Are you satisfied with the set of potential national, regional and local actions as proposed in the Postscript?

Questions 9 &10: Refer to actions for organisations to consider

Question 11:
Do you feel that the proposals for Monitoring and Assessment of this pilot are adequate for the purpose?

Question 12: Do you have any further comments you would like to make?

Call for voluntary restraint on large scale hare culls

A joint initiative urging voluntary restraint on large scale culls of mountain hares was launched on 23 December.

The initiative is supported by: Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), with funding coming from SNH, JHI and GWCT.  

The initiative seeks to establish effective but sustainable management of mountain hares. Mountain hare populations are under threat from habitat loss, fragmentation, and in some areas, from large, local culls on grouse moors. Although not a fully protected species, the UK is obliged to ensure that the status of hare populations is not threatened in any way.

For further details see the press release as reported on the GWCT Blog.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is the chairman of the SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, at the end of a long two days, Alan provides an update on progress.

Our two-day hearing has come to a close.

Our final session ranged over policy issues. We had a lively hearing involving Bob McIntosh, Director of the Scottish Government’s Environment and Forestry Directorate, Duncan Orr-Ewing of the RSPB, Maggie Keegan of the SWT, and Andrew Midgley of Scottish Land Estates.

The Land Use Strategy and the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy featured prominently. We explored in detail the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable moorland landscapes. A lot of our discussion centred on the role of a national vision for moorland and regional strategies supporting this.

Now we begin work on our report, which we shall draft by the end of February. 

Meanwhile, I must thank my colleagues for supporting the review, and the many people who attended the hearing for so enthusiastically participating in our conversations. We have also received some excellent written evidence which helps us greatly.

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is chairing a SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, in his second guest blog, Alan provides an update on progress.

We are now well into our hearing on sustainable moorland management.

Yesterday was fascinating. We heard evidence from SNH staff, which highlighted the huge breadth of issues they deal with under the umbrella of ‘moorlands’. We have some strong lines of evidence on wildlife and habitat changes derived from SNHs Site Condition Monitoring, and available on SEWeb.

We then heard from a trio of professors working on water management and geodiversity. We discussed the EMBER project, a number of issues relating to flood management, and heard about growing interest in the ‘roughness’ of upland landscapes in determining water run-off. 

We then moved into economic and amenity issues and heard from representatives of crofting and recreation interests as well as experienced economists and land-use experts. As we ranged over the many values of moorland we were challenged to tease apart views, perceptions and evidence (the term ‘co-production of evidence’ popped into conversation!). So many people, even experts, have hard views about what works well and badly across moorland Scotland, yet the evidence base underpinning this is incredibly patchy and disparate.

We worked late and tried to pull together the threads of much of what we heard, and have read.

This morning, we started with a session on biodiversity, with lively contributions from Professors Steve Redpath and Davy McCracken, both vastly experienced and steeped in the complexities of land use change, conservation and management. A lot of science came to the fore here, and we heard a strong case for more experimental work, and possibly a large experiment on land management practices and impacts. We also heard a lot about the value of a range of evidence types – not just from scientists, but from the wider range of stakeholders connected with the uplands.

We have just finished a session on moorland management practices, with experts from the Heather Trust, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Association of Deer Management Groups, and the renewable energy sector. This was a wide ranging session, with a lot of discussion centring on grouse moor management, the land restoration measures and cooperative approaches to management. These are complex issues, and one issue emerging very clearly is the great range of management objectives, some of which operate at the local landholding level, whereas others cover vast landscapes. Indeed, several people have commented we don’t really have a clear or shared vision for moorlands. We recently saw a public consultation on a national plan for Scotland’s peatlands, and we have a good deal to learn from that.

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Scottish Natural Heritage - Review of Moorland Management

Professor Alan Werritty is the chairman of a SNH-led review of moorland management.  Here, Alan provides a guest blog to provide some background to the review.

Today is the first of two days spent gathering evidence on sustainable moorland management. I am chairing the SNH Scientific Advisory Committee  (SAC) review  group reviewing this topic, and we have invited views from more than 20 specialists and advisers drawn from research bodies, government, agencies, land managers and NGOs.  Meeting in Edinburgh, we are looking forward to lively exchanges to tease out what we know, and what we don’t.  Of course we would like to have invited many more, but we have had to be selective.

We are looking to develop our understanding of management, which sustains the fullest range of moorland natural heritage features across Scotland, and which supports ecologically and economically healthy ecosystems.

Periodically, questions are asked about the impacts of sheep and deer grazing, muirburn,  heather cutting, predator control and a range of other management practices on moorlands.  Answers differ depending on whether your interests lie with soils, water, wildlife, economic interests or wider environmental and cultural aspects.  As part of our review, we are trying to identify the management which supports healthy  nature as well as healthy economics.  It is quite a challenge!

In carrying out this review we want to contribute to work underway under the Land Use Strategy (LUS)  and Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (SBS) , as well as work reviewed under the IUCN Peatland Programme .   Other important sources of information are to be found on Scotland’s Moorland Forum website  and  as a result of Natural England’s recently completed first phase of a review of the evidence base on the management of the English uplands.  We have already pulled together a lot of information, and have received very helpful submissions.

Beyond the hearing, we shall draft our report and submit it to the SAC for its meeting on 5th March. The report will then be presented to the SNH Board.

My colleagues on the review group are: Professor Robin Pakeman (James Hutton Institute), Dr Colin Shedden (BASC), Dr Adam Smith (GWCT) and Professor Jeremy Wilson (RSPB). The Secretary is Karen Rentoul, supported by Professor Des Thompson (SNH).

Professor Alan Werritty FRSE
Chair of the SNH SAC Sustainable Moorland Management Review Group

Monday, 15 December 2014

Peatland action - Demonstration Sites

I met Andrew McBride (Peatland Action Project Manager) in Battleby, today to discuss further development of proposals to establish a suite of demonstration sites across Scotland as part of the Peatland Action (PA) project.

These sites will be on land where work funded by the PA project has been carried out, and the aim will be to establish sites that represent different types of peatland in different conditions.

The initial idea we discussed was to use the sites for events to allow people to visit and find out at first hand what peatland management involved. They would also learn about the impact of the work on other enterprises.  However, the sites could be used in many different ways and I will be exploring other possible uses, as well as the demonstration concept, in the further proposals I produce on behalf of the Forum in January.

I would welcome input from any Forum member who has a view about this work.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A briefing from the Peatland Conference 2014

A grip block in operation 
This briefing will be presented at the Moorland Forum meeting on 31 October 2014

The conference was held in Inverness, 20-22 October 2014, and was the sixth in an annual series of conferences organised by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme the main funder of this year's conference was the Peatland Action project.This briefing provides some highlights for the information of Moorland Forum members.

The conference is very academic in nature, and does not attract many other stakeholders. Arguably, it is not a format that will appeal to the owners and managers of land, and rather than adapt the format for future conferences, it would be better to develop an alternative way to engage with other interest groups.

The proposal to establish a form of demonstration sites has been proposed by the Peatland Steering Group, and this is an issue that was returned to several times during the presentations given as part of the conference. On behalf of the Moorland Forum, I have been asked to look at the options and to consider how a proposal could be prepared.

Our knowledge of peatlands has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the IUCN programme has been at the heart of this development. There are many initiatives and to anyone not involved with peatland issues on a day-to-day basis, the different initiatives can become rather confusing. We will be hearing about the National Peatland Plan, the Peatland Code and Peatland Action during the meeting on 31 October, but I think it will be an important part of the National Peatland Plan to establish a Peatland Group that will bring all the different threads together.

All this increasing knowledge will be of little value until we can develop a delivery structure to apply the knowledge for the benefit of peatland. Peatland Action has achieved great things in a very short space of time, but the money dries up to a large extent, next year, and thereafter it will not be to make progress by providing large grants to NGOs and agencies. More work will need to be done with the private owners and managers of peatland and this is a change we need to start planning for. I believe that the demonstration site concept is the best way to provide this engagement in different parts of Scotland, while providing a platform for applied research that will further increase our knowledge.

I believe that this is an involved, but important, topic, that the Forum should maintain close contact with.