Minutes of the Perth and Argyll meeting 15 June 2011

Present:
Ian Thomas (chair) (IT)
Ian Stewart (IS)
Penny Cousins (PC)
Sheila Clarke (SC)
Syd House (FC) (SH)
Gordon Donaldon (FE) (GD)
Charlotte Flowers (CF)
Grant Moir (GM)
Sharon Davies (secretary) (SD)

Guests:
Jo Ellis (FCS) (JE)
Simon Hart (UPM Tilhill) (SHa)

Apologies:
Dennis Dick
Steve Lukker
Rick Worrell

1. Welcome and introductions

Ian Thomas explained to the group that he would be standing in as Chair for the time that Rick Worrell would be in America.
IT informed the group that Simon Hart is an investment advisor for Tilhill and Jo Ellis is a policy adviser from National Office, FCS and would both be presenting separate agenda items.
IT expressed concern over the delay in SGRPID processing IACS mapping amendments with a current backlog of 8 month to a year. This is causing significant delays in getting claims paid.

2. Roundtable update

Penny Cousins
Penny Cousins informed the group that her local community would like to engage closer with FCS regarding Rhododendron and Bracken control.
Gordon recommend that the community group approach the local Forest District and as the FDM to speak to the community group representative.

Fergus Younger
Fergus Younger explained to the group his remit in Argyll and informed the group that his recent funding application via Leader for Woodfuel supply chain was unsuccessful and he would be reapplying.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart expressed concern that SRDP is not delivering the Scottish Forestry Strategy and that the scheme is simply not working. In his opinion no one understands the system and therefore commercial forestry is suffering. He feels it is too complicated Perth and Argyll Regional Forestry Forum for ordinary owners and they are then relying on agents to make the applications on their behalf. He hopes that the new grant scheme would address these problems.

The group had a discussion on the complexity of SRDP and what they would hope the new scheme would simplify.

Grant Moir
Grant Moir informed the group that he is now a board member of RSPB. The new camping bylaws came into effect on 1 June and so far had been very successful and there had been an increase in daytrippers and families demonstrating good visitor management. Loch Lomond and Trossachs have been successful in obtaining money from SNH to fund a Deer management Plan. LLTNP are also submitting a range of Axis2 Agri-environment SRDP applications for a number of Estates/farms in the Callander area. These were focussed on black grouse as the key species. The LLTNP were involved in drawing up the SRDP proposals, management plans and other supporting documents on the basis that these projects wouldn’t occur without this support/intervention.

Sheila Clark
Sheila Clark explained that Historic Scotland has recently restructured its staff and consequently there are now 6 inspectors and 6 senior inspectors. There is a large reduction in staff. The storms a few weeks ago left significant windblow damage in Kintyre and the landscape has changed dramatically.

Ian Thomas
Ian Thomas informed the group that he would be meeting with Nicholas Shepherd (FCS) soon with a view to getting a digital layer added to the FC browser for historic issues.

Action 1: IT to update Forum on outcome of meeting with Nicholas Shepherd.

3. Minutes and Matters Arising

There was a request for a small change to the last set of minutes and they would be accepted.

Action 2: SD to update minutes and reissue.

Matters Arising

Action points from the previous meeting would be covered through the agenda items.

4. Conservancy Report

SH thanked Moira Macpherson and Jane Campbell for their hard work over the years within the conservancy and for a smooth handover to new staff.
SH expanded on his report and explained that there are currently more cases of Phytophera being reported near Balloch. Plant Health department are taking these new cases very seriously. SH offered his gratitude to PC for chairing a meeting organised with Hugh Clayden to discuss the current situation.

The group were informed that a paper had been produced by Elaine Jamieson and they would be meeting in August to discuss Rhododendron control through SRDP.

SH reminded the group that communities could apply for funding through the Forestry Development Strategy for funding under £5k.

Perth and Argyll Regional Forestry Forum

The Alternative Conifer leaflet has now been produced which the group influenced.

The group were invited to the launch of the National tree Collection for Scotland at Scone Palace on 18th June.

5. FCS and FES indicators

The update on RFF Indicators from FES was supplied by Gordon Donaldson, Forest District Manager, Cowal & Trossachs FD. GD presented the up to date statistics, although information from West Argyll FD was unavailable at this time.

Points of information were:

Alternative Energy - FES have entered into a contract agreement with BGC Partners to carry out a survey of potential hydro energy production and subsequently develop sites over the following 5 years. At present the survey is indicating around 80-90 sites with potential, mostly but not exclusively in C&T FD.

Perhaps 40 of the larger schemes will be developed during an initial phase. Wind generation is also being looked at by Scottish Power Renewables for schemes up to 5MW and PNE Wind for those schemes greater than 5MW. At present there is no information available on what potential there is with the P&A NFE area.

Other indicators were discussed with the RFF requesting that in future years FES look at supplying information relating to the volume of hardwood timber produced rather than, as at present, the area of broadleaved trees available for management. It was agreed that the feasibility of providing this figure would be considered, but low productive output and ill defined future markets made volume estimates problematic and potentially expensive in relation to yields. General figures based on average GYCs (General Yield Class) may be appropriate to satisfy this request.


6. RFF Social Project Update

PC updated the group on the draft report. There as a meeting on 18th May with a group of FCS staff, DD and CF. This group are currently awaiting more information to fill in gaps within the report. Mike Strachan, FCS, is co-ordinating collating this information.

Action 3: PC/Mike Strachan to produce information by end of June to enable report to be completed.

The group agreed to look at the recommendations at the next meeting prior to final completion.

7. Loss of Forest Area and project update

JE updated the group on the results of a pilot study within Perth area demonstrating that woodland loss was mainly due to windfarms or habitat restoration. The pilot also showed that there had been a change in species type resulting in a loss in Mixed Conifer (MC) and Sitka Spruce (SS) and a gain in Open Ground (OG) and Mixed broadleaves (MB). These statistics covered both Forest Enterprise and private land. A single unconditional felling application covering 990 ha had a major impact on the statistics.

It was decided that the project should be rolled out to all conservancies to capture changes from 2000-2010 and that all major changes from 2011 would be captured on an ongoing basis.

Woodland removal policy on windfarms is currently being looked at with a view to replacing all losses with compensatory planting. Concern was expressed that this may not be like for like, in that much of the losses were productive conifer, with replacement planting often focussed on non-productive woodland.

Overall levels of MC had declined with a congruent gain in MB and OG. JE explained the loss in SS was not significant. SH explained that these changes are what you expect to see in a current design plan and to achieve new planting targets we could need to take into account expected woodland loss.
Presentation on Loss of Forest Area

8. Scottish Government Land Use Strategy

SH explained to the group that JE has just returned from Scottish Government where she produced the “Getting the best from our land” document as part of the Land Use Strategy.

The field trip on the next day to Loch Lomond would see issues impacting on how this can be achieved in practice. The field trip was being hosted by GM (LLTNP).

JE explained the strategy and what it entails.

The Act requires a new strategy every 5 years although the current strategy looks at a long term strategic approach. The group discussed subject, and asked for clarification on some points within the strategy as they felt some terminology could be open to interpretation

9. Soapbox session

Simon Hart from UPM Tilhill explained his position within the company, and talked the group through his presentation which highlighted issues constraining forestry expansion form a private sector perspective.
Simon Hart’s presentation.

10. Any other business/Date of next meeting

Date of next meeting is 22nd September however the 20th would be considered.

Location is to be confirmed. Continuous Cover forestry was a potential theme.

December Meeting is week beginning 12th December.

Action 4: SH to invite Charlie Taylor FDM to next meeting.

Actions Points

Owner

1

Update Forum on outcome of meeting with Nicholas Shepherd.

IT

2

Amend minutes of the last meeting

SD

3

RFF Social Project – report to be completed

PC/MS

4

Arrange date of next meeting and invite Charlie Taylor

SH