Minutes of the Perth and Argyll meeting 22 September 2011

Present:
Ian Thomas (chair) (IT)
Ian Stewart (IS)
Penny Cousins (PC)
Sheila Clarke (SC)
Syd House FC (SH)
Charlie Taylor FC (CT)
Charlotte Flower (CF)
Fergus Younger (FY)
Sharon Davies (secretary) (SD)

Guests:

Apologies:
Dennis Dick
Steve Lukker
Grant Moir
Daye Tucker

1. Welcome and introductions

Ian Thomas welcomed everyone to the meeting and offered apologies for members that were unable to attend. Syd House gave the group some background on Daye Tucker, and the group agreed she would be a welcome addition to the Forum with her experience and knowledge.

2. Roundtable update

Ian Stewart
Updated the group on the situation with timber prices. He stated that the recent high timber prices that the industry has enjoyed will not last much longer and a slump in the market is expected. The reasons behind this is thought to be that the anticipated demand from home improvements in a static housing market have not materialised, and this has compounded the adverse impacts from the decline of the new build market.. The end result is that the merchants are currently holding too much stock, and there is not the demand for timber there was at the beginning of the year. The Pallet market peaked with 50m pallets being in circulation, current demand/supply isnow 30m.

Charlotte Flower
Charlotte updated the group on the leader funded project working with landowners on the topic of manage a Hazel woodland and Coppice project.
The Crannog Centre are currently working on projects to raise awareness on this topic.
SH added that the Crannog delivers public education on forest products and traditional silviculture as well as archaeology,
Perth and Argyll Regional Forestry Forum

Action 1: CF to provide the group with a link to the project at the Crannog centre.

Ian Thomas
The chemical for controlling bracken - Asulam has been removed from the approved list. The Appeal for this has been lost and will not be available to purchase after 31 December 2011. The UK can appeal again in 4 year time.
While this has potentially adverse impacts on practical woodland establishment, on a strategic level this development may result in more land being available for Woodland Creation (WC), as farmers options for returning bracken areas to productive agriculture are much reduced.
SH felt that the recent increases in WC grant levels would provide funding to help with increased bracken control costs/increased beating up costs.

Sheila Clark
Asulam is high on the Historic Scotland agenda as it is a method of choice for controlling Bracken and its loss will have a huge impact. Historic Scotland staff now have new job titles and the contact for the Argyll area is Martin Brann.
Ian Stewart added that the monument detail on Land Information Search has been very useful and effective in a practical way.

Fergus Younger
There had been a joint NFU/Agricultural Forum meeting at the end of August which was well attended. There was a field visit in the afternoon to discuss farm and forestry and looked at hillsides with Bracken cover.
There was also a woodfuel/farm woodlands event held at Battleby. A guide had been produced by SAC. The presentation by the Irish speakers had been particularly useful, and was directly applicable to Scoltand in many respects.
The Argyll Agricultural forum had secured money from Perth & Argyll Conservancy with match funding from LEADER for a range of activities in North Kintyre to promote woodfuel and control invasives in a farm/woodland context.

SH added that farm woodlands are now a priority across FCS.

Action 2: FY to keep Forum informed of developments in the Agricultural Forum in relation to these initiatives.

3. Minutes and Matters Arising

Minutes

Action 3: SD to amend minutes to include Fergus present and amendment to page 2 Leader to NPP

Matters Arising

All action points from the previous minutes have been completed.

4. Conservancy Report

SH informed the RFF members that Phytophthera is becoming an increasing concern in Argyll, with a number of sites currently being investigated.
There had been an internal trawl to replace the Rhododendron officer and an announcement would be made soon announcing who the successful applicant is.

CT updated the group on Grey Squirrel control within the FC and FE.
SD advised the group on the introduction of the online felling licence application form which will be launched as soon as all testing is complete.

5. Social Forestry Report

PC gave a presentation and update on the social forestry review. including an overview of the project scope, framework delivery mechanisms and the level of activity within the conservancy.

PC asked if there was statistics available for other conservancy to benchmark Perth & Argyll Conservancy against.

Action 4: SH to investigate other conservancy statistics.
The group discussed Penny’s findings and how the conservancy has been performing in this area and value for money.

Action 5: SH to send feedback to James Ogilvie for information.
CF asked if there would be the opportunity for a wider discussion with other stakeholders. SH informed the group that Elaine Jamieson would be running a workshop in Argyll in December linked to this subject.

Action 6: Penny to circulate final report to RFF Members.

6. Continous Cover Forestry

CT gave a presentation covering the basic concepts of Continuous Cover Forestry 9prepared by Dr Jens Haufe who will be providing specialist silviculture training on this subject to FE staff).

The group discussed continuous cover, thinnings and the pros and cons of CCF prior to visiting Drummond Hill in the afternoon to see a good example of Continuous Cover on the ground.

IT had provided a supporting document on Continuous Cover an economic/grant issues.

7. Forest District Update

CT informed members of progress on renewables, hydro and wind. He stated that he would be in a better position to give a complete update at the next meeting.

Action 7: CT to update RFF on Renewables at next meeting.

CT stated that the camping bylaws in LL&TNP had helped the situation there and there was already evidence of more families going back to the park.
For information the David Marshall Lodge in Aberfoyle will be undergoing a refurbishment over the winter months and a new toilet block will be built at Queens view over the next 18 month.
CT did state that he was awaiting the outcome of the spending review. He is prepared for his budget to be cut, however if timber prices fall then that would be an additional worry for the District.

8. A.O.B/ Date of next meeting

The next meeting is the 15th December in Crianlarich. SD will organise the meeting. Andrew Barbour is to be invited to the meeting.

Action 8: SD to organise the venue for the next meeting.

Actions Points

Owner

1

To provide a link to the Crannog centre

CF

2

To update forum on evelopments within Agricultural Forum & woodfuel/farm/forestry projects.

FY

3

Amend previous minutes

SD

4

Investigate availability of comparable statistics with other Conervancies

SH

5

Feedback on report provided to James Ogilvie

SH

6

Final report to be sent to all RFF Members

PC

7

To update RFF members on district renewables programme

CT

8

To organise next meeting

SD