South of Scotland Forestry Forum meeting minutes, 1 September 2011

Location: Lochside House Hotel, New Cumnock

Present

Neil Cowan
Ann Fraser
Roddy Fairley
Ian Johnston
Ian Cornforth
Bobby McGhee
Chris Badenoch
Iain Laidlaw
Jamie Smith
John Dougan
Pat Hunter Blair (Chairman)
Christine Leslie (Secretary)

1. Welcome and Apologies

Apologies received from the following: Jamie Ribbens, Donald McPhillimy, Joan Mitchell and Martin Craig.

The chairman welcomed Ian Cornforth to his first meeting. The group welcomed back John Dougan from his recent secondment and thanked Jamie Smith for his work during the year.

2. Minutes and Action Points from Last Meeting

The minutes were agreed as a true record of the previous meeting.

• Local Development Plan: Having review the plan, JS had not circulated as is was felt that forestry was not a significant element within the main plan, this being understandable given the separate, but associated woodland strategies.

• Implementation of Scottish Forestry Strategy – details available on the web, copy to be circulated.

• Land Use Strategy – no examples of eco system had been passed onto RF.

AP 1: JS and RF to get together to discuss further.

3. Conservator's Update

Forestry within GB – JD informed the meeting of the proposed changes which are currently under consideration and the current review in FC England highlighting the proposed structure of the FC GB with regards to budget cuts and restructuring which should result in a significant impact on FC GB. As a result of these changes this will ultimately have an impact in Scotland as a number of shared services are based in Edinburgh along with Research.

Regulation Task Force: Draft report highlighting recommendations etc due soon.

Restructure with Scottish Government: reduction in the number of directorates with a reduction in the number of Senior Civil Servants, time frame not clear for implementation.

Rural Development Programme: It is expected that the new regulations from the EU setting out the rules for the next phase 2014-2020 will be received within the next few months. It is envisaged that the RFF group will be involved in the review.

Recent meeting in Battleby with CONFOR members to review and analyse the current programme, feedback from this will be taken forward.

There was a round the table Q&A on the various points raised in update.

4. Update on Woodland Strategies

All three South Scotland Strategies (Ayrshire, D&G and Borders) are subject to review.

Ayrshire: An initial steering group has been brought together. FCS have provided fund with AJST taking the lead. Although the current strategy is recognised as still being relevant, there are a couple of key evolving areas being looked at further – Central Scotland Greening Network (CSGN) and Greenspace, also looking at woodland expansion and LUS.

D&G: Draft strategy has been pulled together. It has been written by a number of contributors. JD is currently reviewing and preparing for presentation to stakeholders prior to consultation. The aim is to have ready for September 2012 publication.

AP 2: JD to present Draft for discussion at next RFF Meeting

Borders: Existing strategy runs to 2015. Analysis and review of existing strategy felt desirable given mid way through life and due to evolving pressures related to woodland expansion and LUS. Likely to result in a review, but limited to 3 or 4 key topics rather than whole document. A copy of the document will be circulated to members once available.

AP 3: JD to circulate to members when available

The question was raised as to how the group would feel best placed to handle these reviews. It was felt that with all three documents being reviewed within a similar time frame that this was an excellent opportunity to try to “bring them together” into a more consistent approach across the whole area. From that perspective the Forum was felt well placed to input good feedback/views from that broader perspective.

5. Land Use Strategy and Woodland Expansion Advisory Group

A copy of the press release was circulated to members for their information. Hutton Institute has been commissioned to carry out a review and report to update the 2006 SFS mapping work as part of this exercise. This group is seen as key in informing the Cabinet Secretary about future direction of Woodland creation in Scotland.

AP 4: JD to co-ordinate input from Forum to this group

6. FES Acquisitions and introduction to Site Visit

Bill Meadows gave an overview of the current repositioning programme and the activity ongoing within this area in relation to this.

Recent acquisitions highlighted were:

o Carserigg (633ha) – EIA determination process ongoing.
o Nether Horse (394ha) farmland that marches Glentress, it was suggested that this would be a useful location for a meeting and site visit. Forest plan to be prepared and EIA determination to be confirmed.
o 2.4ha discussed quarry near Dalbeattie – small community site.
o Falgunzeon – marches with existing FC land. Purely for commercial purposes.
o Horseburgh Castle – adjacent to Glentress/Peel
o There are currently offers in for another 2 sites which are being targeted for their potential to deliver on specific objectives.

Bill also highlighted the pilot short term leasing scheme, specifically focused on productive woodland creation, and also the growing interest in the potential for agricultural and forestry integration within the FCS estate.

7. AOB

New projects at Galloway FD, specifically Visitor Centres, It was suggested that R Souter gave a presentation at the next meeting.

AP 5: Contact R Soutar to give presentation at a future meeting.

8. Date of Next meeting

Thursday 8 December 2011 at South Scotland Conservancy Office, Dumfries.

After Lunch the group visited the new NFE acquisition at Carserigg including the potential “starter Farm” near Kirkconnel. Bill Meadows gave a brief summary of the work being carried out and introduced the group to Chris Tracey, who gave a presentation of the work being carried out and took the group on a tour of the site.

Thanks were given to all for attending.