Monday, 23 January 2017

Draft Climate Change Plan & Peatland

The Scottish Government has published its Draft Climate Change Plan and this sets out the Government's ambitions for peatland restoration.  Long term funding is to be provided to deliver large-scale peatland restoration.  The members of the Forum may have a role to assist with the Awareness Raising policy, outlined below.

Peatland Restoration Progress
Since 2013, through the Peatland Action Initiative, around 10,000 hectares of peatlands have been restored through Scottish Government led action, working with public and private land managers across Scotland.

Ambitions for peatland
By 2020, 50,000 hectares of degraded peatland will have been restored, from a 1990 baseline, and by 2030 we will have increased this to 250,000 hectares – an improvement of valuable soils in around 20% of Scotland’s landmass. By 2050, Scotland’s expanded peatlands will be thriving habitats, sustaining a diverse ecosystem and sequestering more carbon than ever before.

Extract from the Draft Climate Change Plan - Section 13.4, p131
Our ambition – Peat 
13.4.3  By 2030, 40% of degraded peatland will be restored to good condition. This policy action will have considerable impact by converting peatlands from emitting carbon to acting as a carbon sink as well as reducing emissions from degraded bogs. The restored peatland will also help mitigate flood risk and improve water quality, as well as helping to increase biodiversity in restored areas.

13.4.4  As well as providing increased carbon storage, this large-scale peatland restoration delivery across Scotland will also produce multiple benefits for communities and the economy. The key sectors expected to see benefits are tourism, food and drink and the environment.

13.4.5  To make progress towards this ambition, we will focus on achieving a significant increase in the scale of degraded peatland restored, from a 1990 baseline to:
• 50,000 hectares restored by 2020
• 250,000 hectares restored by 2030

13.4.6  Our longer term ambition is that by 2050, Scotland’s expanded peatlands will be thriving habitats, sustaining a diverse ecosystem and sequestering more carbon than ever before.
Peat policy outcomes, policies, development milestones and proposals

Policy outcome 1: To enhance the contribution of peatland to carbon storage, we will support an increase in the annual rate of peatland restoration, from 10,000 hectares in 2017/18 to 20,000 hectares per year thereafter.

Policies which contribute to the delivery of policy outcome 1 
1)  Restoration grants: We will provide grant funding to support eligible land managers to deliver peatland restoration. Levels of funding will enable at least 20,000 hectares of peatland restoration per year from 2018/19.
2)  Awareness raising: Working through partnership, we will put in place tools and information to develop the capacity, skills and knowledge of land managers, contractors and others, to deliver peatland restoration.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Lecture on the Mountain Hare - 19 January

Lecture on the Mountain Hare - 19 January

Venue: Sportsman's Club, 11 Queen's Road, Aberdeen AB15 4YL

This illustrated lecture, presented by Glenn Iason and Scott Newey of the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, will explore the natural history, food, habitat and populations of the mountain hare and the issues currently affecting it.

Read more

(Reprinted from the Scottish Land & Estates Newsletter, 6th January 2017)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Roseanna Cunningham: Natural assets must be top priority

Photo: Getty images

Roseanna Cunningham is Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.  Her New Year message provides a framework for Moorland Forum activity in 2017.

She quotes Ban Ki-moon: “It is time to recognise that human capital and natural capital are every bit as important as financial capital”.

She comments that, "it is vital that we continue to develop and manage our environmental resources sustainably" and states that, "2017 promises to be highly significant for everyone who cares about our environment".

Read the full message as reported in The Scotsman.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

The third report on proposals and policies (RPP3 - the draft climate change plan)) is due to be published in January 2017 and Parliament has a maximum of 60 days to report on the document.  Four committees of the Scottish Parliament have agreed to collaborate to consider the draft plan: 
  • The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee (EJW) 
  • The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee (ECCLR) 
  • The Local Government and Communities Committee (LGC) 
  • The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (REC)
The REC has circulated an Information Pack for Stakeholders to provide more information about the process and I have placed this, together with a copy of the covering e-mail message in a Dropbox folder.  There is more background on the Scottish Government website.

No doubt many members of the Forum will wish to contribute to the review process independently and I propose that I keep a watching brief in case there is any input that the Forum as a whole could usefully provide.  The areas that the ECCLR will consider are likely to be of most relevance to the Forum.  I will welcome any suggestions from members about how the Forum could provide input.

I will be arranging a meeting for Lord Lindsay and me with the Cabinet Secretary for REC, Fergus Ewing MSP, in January and we will raise this for discussion as part of the meeting. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Review of the Muirburn Code

The Review of the Muirburn Code is one of the main projects that the Forum is working on, at present.  The review has been taking place behind the scenes through 2016, but the tempo is increasing.  A series of workshops will be held in February and March and this will lead to the development of a final version of the draft Code.  This will be submitted to the Scottish Government and it will be launched over the summer so that it is place for the start of the next muirburn season in October.

There is a dedicated Blog for the review project and this will contain updates and other information.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement Consultation

The Scottish Government has opened a consultation on the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.

Under Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) 2016 Act, Scottish Ministers must prepare, consult upon and publish a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. This forms a key part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to end the ‘stop-start’ nature of land reform. The Statement will underpin a range of Scottish Government strategies related to land rights and responsibilities. This consultation is an opportunity to express your views on the content of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement.

A press release and a consultation paper are available on the Scottish Government's website.

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation platform, Citizen Space. You can view and respond to this consultation online.

For more detail, contact: Stephen Krzyzanowski, Land Reform Policy Support and Administrative Officer.  Tel: 0131 244 4855.

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Principles of Moorland Management Project - update

The Principles of Moorland Management (PoMM) project is producing guidance for practitioners to cover a range of moorland management activity.  Small guidance groups have been established to draft the guidance, which will then be passed to members of the project steering group for comment. When approved by the Steering Group, Forum members will be invited to comment before the guidance is published on the Forum's website.  

The guidance will provide links to other related information, and it will be updated on a regular basis to take account of changes to techniques, regulations or other factors.

Further details about the project are available from the project page on the Moorland Forum's website.

Guidance in Production

Three Guidance Groups have been formed, and have been making progress. The topics covered are: Worm Control in Grouse, Heather Cutting and Mountain Hare.

I expect to have draft versions of the guidance for all three groups by mid-November.

Next Steps
The guidance will cover a wide range of topics and it is likely that the process to be followed before the guidance is published will vary between the different topics.  The starting point will be the following process:
  • The guidance will be circulated to the PoMM Steering Group (see below).
  • Feedback will be collated and passed to the Guidance Group for comment and/or amendment of the draft.
  • When approved by the Steering Group, the guidance will be passed to all Forum members for comment.
  • The guidance will then be published on the Forum’s website.
The next stages for the three topics in progress will provide a demonstration of this process in action.

Purpose of the Guidance

The guidance aims to provide a source of information that practitioners can turn to when deciding how they should carry out an approved management activity. Some guidance may also include issues that practitioners should take into account when deciding whether or not a management activity is appropriate in their circumstances.

The aim is to provide a one-stop-shop for the latest guidance on different moorland management activity; the guidance will link to other information and will not repeat details that are already available elsewhere. It will be important that once published it is kept up to date.

Next Topics

With the three guidance groups about to publish their drafts, it is time to consider the next topics that PoMM should address.

In earlier discussion, the Steering Group considered three options:
  • Bracken Control,
  • Snaring, and
  • Sphagnum Moss regeneration (as part of peatland restoration).
Other suggestions will be welcome, and the options will be raised for discussion at the Forum meeting, on 4 November. The Steering Group will then be asked for their views on all the options so that a decision can be made about forming more Guidance Groups.

Steering Group members

Tim Baynes - Scottish Land & Estates
John Bruce - British Deer Society
Ronnie Kippen - Scottish Gamekeepers Association
Alastair MacGugan - SNH
Duncan Orr-Ewing - RSPB Scotland
Colin Shedden - BASC
Adam Smith - GWCT
Julia Stoddart - SACS
Dr. Tony Waterhouse - SRUC
Malcolm Younger - RICS