Minutes of the Highland and Islands Forestry Forum meeting, 18 January 2011

Location: Great Glen House

Members present

Mr Bob Stubbs, Chairman
Mr Cliff Beck
Ms Diane Macpherson by VC
Ms Becky Shaw
Ms Eleanor Garty
Mr Bill Taylor
Mr Mike Thompson
Mr John McGlade
Ms Eleanor Garty
Mr Steve Connolly

Also present

Mr Robert Patton HC
Mr Will Boyd Wallis CNPA
Mr John Moffat RPID

Forestry Commission Scotland Staff attending:

Mr Chris Nixon
Mr John Risby
Mr Malcolm Wield
Ms Dinah Beattie
Mrs Evelyn Murray
Mr Steve Smith
Mr Tim Cockerill

1. Introduction and Apologies

The Chair extended a warm welcome to everyone.

Apologies were received from Kevin Peace, Sheila Nairn, Margaret Davidson, Amanda Bryan, Neil Sutherland and Michael Foxley.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 23 August 2010 were accepted and agreed as a true and accurate record.

2.1 Action Points from meeting on 23 August 2010
2.2 Macaulay work- JR engaging with SNH & HC to identify land suitable for mixed planting.
2.3 SRDP Claims- actively been progressed. AP5
2.4 Crofters Commission – resolved – AP7

3. Matters Arising

SRDP - Announcement of a 10% increase for productive conifers and as for planting in both the Western and Northern Isles. The latter is an interim measure until the new Isles model is in place. It was suggested that we were on target to approve woodland creation of around 2000ha for 2011.

Woodland Expansion - ConFor has issued a press statement outlining a consensus agreement with the NFUS for the expansion of productive woodlands on agricultural land. NFUS have been broadly supportive of the position even though there are still some general tensions over land-use change. The Conservancy figures for woodland approvals to date were distributed.

4. Progress with SFS implementation plan

The paper presented on progress was endorsed. The draft plan for 2011/12 was discussed and also endorsed with members invited to provide further feedback to the Conservancy before final submission of 11/12 plan to National Office.

In discussion, it was agreed that, given the current situation regarding plant health issues in the area, continued effective communication between Conservancy and the wider industry was particularly important.

It was reported that new guidance on using local timber in construction is to go to the next planning committee meeting of Highland Council.

The Chairman noted the relevance to the area of a new study being undertaken by Scott Wilson. He is producing a report based on 24 case studies throughout the UK on the issue of retaining timber production on PAWS sites and it was suggested that this might be worth a presentation and discussion at a future forum meeting.

5. Chris Nixon’s 'Carbon Code' presentation

Following Chris’ presentation there was some discussion on how to get farm woodlands involved as a further phase in implementing the code. This was particularly relevant given the proportion of agricultural land that would be needed if the Government’s targets for woodland creation were to be met.

Currently, farmers are not seeing the market relevance of woodland creation and management. However, their customers, particularly the retail multiples, are very focussed on carbon reduction measures, and it may be that through them, progress could be made.

Longer-term, the implementation of the code will be examined through 15 pilot projects. Projects signing up to the code can continue to claim a woodland creation grant as long as, “additionality” criteria are satisfied, although it was noted that in some circumstances this would be difficult to demonstrate.

The presentation from Chris Nixon was circulated to members and further information can be obtained via the FC pages on Carbon Code at: www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode

It is hoped to launch the code in Summer 2011.

6. News from around area

Members noted the various news reports and the chairman thanked contributors for the time and effort put in to producing them. It was noted that key points emerging included the new production forecast, which was anticipated to be published in 2011.

Secondly, the details of the FCS spending review are still emerging although are having less effect on the Conservancy but are initiating significant changes in the Forest Districts. Members asked to be kept informed of any significant developments on reduced staffing or budgetary pressures

Date for next meeting was set for 1 March with a site visit to look at current issues in the Flow country.