Minutes of the Perth and Argyll meeting 15 December 2011

Present:

Ian Thomas (chair) (IT)
Ian Stewart (IS)
Penny Cousins (PC)
Sheila Clarke (SC)
Grant Moir
Syd House (FC) (SH)
Dennis Dick
Sharon Davies (secretary) (SD)

Guests:

Gordon Patterson FCS
Derek Nelson FCS
Yvonne Grieve FCS
Colin Galbraith

Apologies:

Charlotte Flower
Fergus Younger
Steve Lukker
Daye Tucker

1. Welcome and introductions

Ian Thomas welcomed everyone to the meeting and offered apologies for members that were unable to attend. Ian informed the group that the theme of today’s meeting was to be the Eco-system approach and that the guest speakers would be adding to this theme through their presentations.

2. Roundtable update

Sheila Clark

Sheila informed the RFF members that she had received a letter from Andrew Barbour relating to woodland expansion. For information she has sent this to Noel Foyet and archaeological groups to comment on.

For information The Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments (RCAM) is currently under review which, regardless of the outcome, will have an impact on Historic Scotland.

Grant Moir

Grant informed the group that the consultation for National Park Plan 2012-2017 is now complete. They are currently looking at the responses to the consultation and will collate recommended changes in January/February to put before the Board in April and then Scottish Government in June.

Grant is in the process of setting up a Countryside Trust in Loch Lomond and Trossachs. The Trust would have access to extra funding for Access, Recreation, managing conservation and managing evasive species. The framework should be agreed by 1 April. Core funding from National Park Authority will be £40k, committed Capital will be £25/50/75k over the next 3 years and the Trust will be looking for further funding. Two new posts have been identified to help deliver the framework.

The land management budget had been published recently and the capital budget has been increased for land management and visitors.

The Trust will also be helping landowners with SRDP applications within the area.

There will be a seminar in Balloch on 11th January.

Dennis Dick

Dennis informed the group that the Royal Botanic Garden has a new Chair – Muir Russell who has a civil service background.

The RBG will review what the Garden should be achieving, and identifying what they are good at.

The RBG has recently introduced a barcode system for DNA identification of species. This method collectively discovers approx one new species each week.

Dennis explained he is Chair of the Tayside Biodiversity Group. This is made up of participation from Dundee, Angus and Perth & Kinross Councils. Dundee have just pulled out from the group and withdrawn funding. The other 2 councils have decided to employ the co-ordinator one day each and the other 3 days on Biodiversity. Following this the group have changes their scope to bring in new local communities and intend to update the Biodiversity Action Plan.

There may also be an issue with local groups finding funding in the future. Local Land fill tax will no longer go to councils but straight to the Scottish Government.

Penny Cousins

Penny received several comments relating to the Social Forestry Report and will be in a position to finish this in the near future.. The group agreed that it should be published on the FC website, with links sent to interested parties via mailouts

ACTION POINT 1: Penny to make the report available to be published

There was a meeting in Argyll to discuss Rhododendron control in September. Penny had managed to gather local landowners and the general opinion was they were happy to be guided by FC and take their advice on this matter. However since the meeting, the local Argyll group feel that they are still waiting for advice from FC. Syd responded that the reason they have not heard anything is due to staff changes in the last 3 months. He confirmed that the FC do have a budget for a Rhododendron officer for the next 2 years, and that the new member of staff would be in touch with Penny. Penny agreed she would be happy to facilitate meetings between the FC and local community.

ACTION POINT 2: Syd to email Penny officially with an explanation that she can send to the local community demonstrating that the FC is committed to take this forward.

Ian Stewart

Ian informed the RFF group that further to his comments in September regarding the market price of timber there has been change. The Timber price dipped in August and September and has remained at stable at that price in October and November.

There has been a confirmed outbreak of Phytophthera in Galloway. He has attended meetings with Buccleuch Estate who are considering pre-emptive clearance of Larch. This would supply James Jones with twice as much Larch timber in this one programme than James Jones fell in a typical year.

He also added that there was a greater threat in the area from Red Band Needle Blight as it was more invasive than Phytophthera.

Ian informed the members of a Woodlot Initiative he has been informed about. The idea is to lease area for timber production to individuals rather than a community woodland. Although at this stage it is not clear where the land could be sourced, it is generally supported by Syd and the RFF group. Ian Thomas suggested that Ian Stewart points them in the direction of South Scotland Conservancy adding that this scheme would be beneficial to the community/industry and FC.

3. Minutes and Matters Arising

The minutes of the last meeting were accepted as a true record.

Matters arising -

AP1 – to be rolled forward to the next meeting for update.
AP2 – Syd updated the group on the Farm Forestry integration in Fergus absence. Informed the group on the new Biomass plant at Killin where no objections had been received to the panning application.
AP4 – Syd has raised this with James Ogilivie and will push forward once he receives the final version of Penny’s report.
AP6 – was covered under Penny’s round table update.
AP7 – Syd updated RFF that a news release will be published soon on Hydro and will be followed in the New Year by another on Wind.

ACTION POINT 3: Syd to send update to RFF members on Hydro.

4. UKFS Presentation

Syd gave a presentation on UK Forestry Standards prepared by Richard Howe in FC.

5. Introduction to the Ecosystem Approach & Policy Implications

Dennis presented the group with a talk on the background on Eco-system approach and why we should be looking at this approach, the impact on Climate Change and its impact on Biodiversity. Dennis added that there are problems getting polictians to accept there is a link to both. There has now been a new Biodiversity strategy launched which addresses both.

6. Ecological Coherence

Colin gave a presentation on the impact of climate change and its threat to our eco-system. He demonstrated this point by explaining there has been research to support the theory between regular sandstorms in N Africa results in health implication several months after in North America. The group had a discussion on Colin’s presentation and how to engage wider public involvement.

7. Native Woodland Survey of Scotland – What, why and where are we now. Accessing and using the NWSS data

Derek Nelson gave the background to the project, that the aim of the NWSS is to identify all native, nearly native and plantation on ancient woodland sites(PAWS) woodlands of at least 0.5ha in order to create a woodland map linked to a spatial dataset showing the location, type, composition and condition of these woods.

The project started in 2006 and is to be completed by 2013. The results will be published in thirty two summary reports by local authority area and at the end a Scotland wide national report.

Derek briefly explained the survey process completed by the survey team and the quality assurance processes built into each aspect of the survey.

Copies of the survey plan, precess, procedures and a full list of the features assessed can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/nwss

This information will be used at a national level as well as local and regional levels to enable future monitoring of the extent and condition of Scotland’s native woodland.

Derek informed the group that he would be happy to talk to local groups about the project.

Yvonne Grieve then spoke in depth to the RFF members about the attributes within each polygon and how it is recorded. She demonstrated how to access the data, the process that the data goes through to get it to the usable state and what each bit of information can tell the user.

The group discussed the project with Derek and Yvonne.

Grant asked if there are any intentions to collate the data independently for National Parks as it is currently being collated by Local Authority. Yvonne confirmed that there was no resources to provide this information in this format. Syd and Gordon confirmed that there is merit in producing a report for the National Parks.

ACTION POINT 4: GP to discuss funding to produce a report for Loch Lomond National Park and contact Cairngorms National Park concerning this also.

8. Woodland Biodiversity Priorities

Gordon Patterson presented a summary of current woodland biodiversity priorities under the Scottish Forestry and Biodiversity Strategies and identified and discussed with members issues of increasing priority and opportunity, including opportunities to use native woodland survey results to target action to best effect.

9. Discussion. Forum recommendations for future biodiversity priorities and policy linages

The group had a discussion on the conservancy biodiversity priorities. It was agreed that a summary of National and Regional FC biodiversity priorities would be circulated to members for feedback on how relevant and fit for purpose these were perceived to be. Given the emphasis that the SG is placing on the “Ecosystem approach” in relation to land use policy (via the review of Woodland Expansion Policy for instance), then the forum would give some thought as to whether the current FC biodiversity policies capitalise as applied across the Conservancy on the opportunities presented by this fundamental shift in emphasis. It was felt that multi-purpose forestry, with a strong productive element, was a land use well matched to the ecosystem approach.

ACTION POINT 5: SH & GP to email members, comments to be sent to IT to summarise and produce short paper on potential opportunities for multi purpose forestry created by the adoption of the ecosystem approach.

10. Future Meetings

The next meeting will be in March followed by a 2 day meeting with field trip in June. Syd and Sharon will discuss and Sharon will be in touch with details.

ACTION POINT 6: SD to organise 2012 meetings.

Actions Points

Owner

1

Social Forestry report to be published on Website

PC

2

Email Penny with explanation to send to local community

SH

3

Sent Hydro update to RFF members

SH

4

To follow up funding options to produce reports for LLTNP and Cairngorms

GP

5

SH & GP to provide summary of current biodiversity priorities (National & Regional). Forum to provide feedback. IT to summarise feedback and produce short discussion paper on the opportunities presented by the ecosystem approach.

IT

6

To organise next meetings

SD