South of Scotland Forestry Forum meeting minutes, 25 November 2010

Location: Mosspaul Inn, Hawick

Present

Chris Badenoch
Martin Craig
Joan Mitchell
Jamie Ribbens
Neil Cowan
Roddy Fairley
Donald McPhillimy
Bobby McGhee
Hugh Clayden
Bob Frost
Tom Nisbet
Iain Laidlaw
Jamie Smith
Pat Hunter Blair, Chairman
Christine Leslie, Secretary

1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES

Apologies received from the following: Ann Fraser and Ian Johnson.

Pat regrets to inform its members that John Todd had tendered his resignation from the group with immediate effect as he is moving to France. John asked Pat to pass on his best wishes to all.

An apology was given with regards to the September meeting being cancelled. This was due to staff changes within the Conservancy Office. John Dougan is on secondment to Silvan House until August 2011 on promotion to Head of Delivery and Regions. The members welcomed Jamie Smith who has taken over the role of Conservator.

2. MINUTES AND ACTION POINTS FROM LAST MEETING

Action points from previous minutes:

Minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a true record of discussions.

3. CONSERVATOR'S UPDATE

Implementation Strategy – Update

Bill Meadows (BM) gave an update on Forest Enterprises work on Climate Change, Acquisitions and Starter Farms:

I/ CC - NFE South Scotland have been involved with pilot projects with regards to Wind farms in the area which are moving ahead. The Clyde wind farm will be operational within the next couple of years and will be the largest in Europe at this time.

Harestanes – still being worked through and has been put back to the end of 2011. PFR as part of the Borders partnership along with FCS, Carbon Trust and Government are implementing and supporting 2 other potential sites in the area.

II/ Acquisitions – Three sites have been acquired in the Region.

III/ Starter Farms – A pilot scheme is being set up as a result of one of the recent acquisitions to using the farm buildings as a worker holding which would link into wide ranging habitat management sites. The ownership of the starter farm would be FCS with the property leased to occupier allowing them to submit potential applications for grant through SRDP.

It was suggested that once this project is up and running it could be a potential venue for a site visit in 18mths-2yrs time.

Jamie Smith (JS) went on to give further information on the remaining themes under the Implementation Strategy:

Timber – The aim to promote forest expansion over the last two years in south Scotland has been approximately 2500ha made up of 80% Conifer and 20% Broadleaves.

Whereas nationally approx 7500ha has been approved within the last 2 years with a further 3500ha being processed in 2011 and more expected. There have been some losses due to the requirements for OG to meet UK Forestry Standards and Windfarm Developments.

In relation to windfarms the loss of woodlands is now being addressed by the conditions detailed within the Scottish Governements Policy on ‘Control of Woodland Removal’. This requires the developer to provide Compensatory Planting where woodland is removed for development.

Business Development - Galloway Biosphere has been given ministerial approval.

Community Development – Heritage Tree Trail Leaflet circulated to members. Further information available: The Ancient Tree Hunt: www.ancienttreehunt.org.uk and Borders Forest Trust: www.bordersforesttrust.org

Access and Health – BM sits on the D&G Access forum, however there has been a delay in progress. Final proposals at consultation. Core path routes have been agreed. D&G are working on specific projects eg Solway Moss working with communities and FC still to be signed off.

Of the above themes 6 out of the 7 are on target with the Biodiversity still ongoing.

SRDP Update:

I/ Total spent on Rural Priorities up to and including the August RPAC = £413.7m.

The October round presented about 700 cases throughout Scotland, results still to be issued. These cases only included mainly Axis 2.
The forthcoming Feb RPAC will be looking at Axis 1 and 3.

II/ There will be a 11% reduction in FC grants due to recent spending cuts, however, due to there being an under spend on EU funding for forestry, the rate of draw-down has increased from 25% up to 50%.

III/ SRDP 2013 and beyond is currently under way and awaiting draft EU regulations coming through.

ACTION POINT: JS to clarify whether or not FCS has involvement in input to new regulations.
RESPONSE: Once the draft regulations are published there will be a period of consultation when FCS and others will be able to make comment.

D&G Forest & Woodland Strategy – The advisory group and stakeholders attended a workshop in June this year to identify themes to take forward. The aim is that by Feb 2011 the advisory group will be able to write the first draft of strategy and out for consultation June 2011.

The Borders Woodland Strategy – existing plan due for renewal. Plans for the revision still to be confirmed. Implementation of the strategy is progressing well with 5 key actions areas to be completed by March 2011.

Land use Strategy – Currently still out to consultation until 17 December. SFF meeting took place last week, copy of note circulated to members. It was agreed that the Forum should put forward a response. The following link will take you to the 'Scotland Land Use Strategy' web page which gives your further details and includes a link to allow you to respond. Land Use Strategy Link:

4. Pests and Disease - Presentation by Hugh Clayden

Hugh Clayden gave an informative update on Pests and Diseases in the UK.

5. Working With Communities – an Update - Presentation by Bob Frost

Bob Frost gave a presentation on Working with communities which is part of an on-going work programme to improve the way we work with communities. This is carried out through FES Community Partnerships; Community engagement good practice and National Forest Land scheme (NFL); Guidance and information.

6. Acidification

Presentation by Tom Nisbet

The Forests and Water Guidelines were first published in 1988 following a 'water workshop' organised by the Forestry Commission and the Water Research Centre at York in 1986. Since then there have been three revisions, in 1991, 1993 and 2003, to ensure that the guidelines continue to reflect the results of recent research and experience.

The fifth edition draws on continuing studies of the various environmental effects of land-use, pollutant inputs and forest operations, widens consideration of the impact of lowland and native woodland expansion on the freshwater environment, updates information on legislation, and extends the guidelines to include Northern Ireland.

7. AOB

Woodland Book available from D McP.

8. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Dates for next year's meeting to be circulated to Members

Fri 25 March 2011 Venue: Dumfries
Thu 26 May 2011 Venue: to be confirmed
Thu 1 September 2011 Venue: to be confirmed
Thu 8 Dec 2011 Venue: Dumfries

9. AFTERNOON VISIT TO ROWANTREE HILL (WEST OF HAWICK)

After Lunch the group visited a new Woodland Creation Scheme of approximately 150 ha of productive Conifer. Martin Craig gave a brief summary of the work being carried out and introduced the group to the local Forester and Wildlife Ranger for the site.

Thanks were given to all for attending.