Consultation: Scoping a Strategic Vision for the Uplands

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Consultation: Scoping a Strategic Vision for the Uplands

Postby RSforum » 12 Oct 2016, 13:06

Hi all. SNH has asked for input on scoping a strategic vision for the uplands of Scotland. In particular they are looking for answers to these questions:

Where are the uplands?
1. What broad characteristics should we use to define the uplands? Some possible approaches are summarised in the annex to this note.
What benefits do the uplands provide to Scotland?
2. What are the key social, economic and environmental benefits that the uplands provide for Scotland?
3. How can upland land use help to prevent or reduce the impacts of climate change?
What should an upland vision include?
4. A strategic vision could inform decisions about the balance between different land uses in different parts of the uplands. What are the key choices that an upland vision should address, and why?
5. Are there any other topics or issues that should be included in an upland vision, and if so why?
6. Are there any topics or issues that should be excluded from an upland vision, and if so why?
How should the vision be developed?
7. Which stakeholders do you think it would be particularly important to involve, and how? Would particular approaches be needed, for example, to reach particular groups?
8. What are your views on the process that might be needed to bring together the key interests and develop a shared vision?
9. Who would be best placed to lead this process?
10. What form should a vision for the uplands take (visual or descriptive, maps, diagrams or text)?
11. Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

Please post any suggestions to help other respondants here.

RSforum
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Re: Consultation: Scoping a Strategic Vision for the Uplands

Postby RSforum » 12 Oct 2016, 13:11

This draft from RS directos Hugh Chalmers...

Where are the uplands?
What broad characteristics should we use to define the uplands? Some possible approaches are summarised in the annex to this note.

The straightforward and most useful and pragmatic answer is the second on the SNH list; ‘the limit of enclosed farmland’.

The uplands are often defined as land lying above the limit of enclosed farmland. This approach might attract reasonably broad agreement and could be based on existing data. This boundary is usually also fairly obvious on the ground.

What benefits do the uplands provide to Scotland?
What are the key social, economic and environmental benefits that the uplands provide for Scotland?

Employment, upland farming culture, recreation, sport shooting, wind turbines, landscape conservation including wild land, wildlife and wildlife habitat, carbon capture, forestry, deer management, flood mitigation.

How can upland land use help to prevent or reduce the impacts of climate change?

Increasing the area of the uplands which has natural vegetation cover or commercial forestry will capture atmospheric carbon, and reduce flood impacts through increase interception of rainfall, increased soil infiltration and reduced soil and river bank erosion. Riparian planting will reduce the effects of increased temperature on fish in rivers, provide buffers to soil erosion caused by more intense rainfall events, and reduce the resultant diffuse pollution.

What should an upland vision include?
A strategic vision could inform decisions about the balance between different land uses in different parts of the uplands. What are the key choices that an upland vision should address, and why?

• Discussion and development of a ‘Land Ethic’, where those in control of land should consider the wider consequences of how they manage land.
• Generally, work to restore natural processes and ecological dynamics, to build resilience to the threats brought by climate change.
• The distribution and conditions attached to agricultural subsidies, including grants to plant trees, as these massively influence the way in which large parts of the uplands are managed.
• A strategic policy on wind turbine and access track locations. This is particularly relevant in more remote upland areas as it impacts on landscape conservation and tourism.
• The intensive management of grouse moors. Alternatives exist where sport shooting can continue whilst habitat is restored to benefit other wildlife, landscape, carbon capture, water quality and flood mitigation.
• The need to protect small upland watercourses from poor management practices such as shading from conifer trees, poaching and bank erosion by grazing animals. Good management of watercourses, especially native riparian tree planting and adding woody debris, would be a simple way to target resources in the uplands and would lead to disproportionately large benefits.
• Wild deer management policy. The current system of self-regulation of deer densities is not working in all parts of Scotland, and high deer densities are having a deleterious effect on vegetation cover and natural tree regeneration.
• The upland vision should consider the potential for restoring beaver and lynx to the uplands. Restoring keystone species and top predators could help to restore natural vegetation cover and hydrological regimes.
• The objectives of the Water Framework Directive should be included as an aim in the uplands. Restoring and upgrading failing water bodies will require investment to alter damaged rivers and remove un-natural obstacles, but provide increased flood mitigation, recreation, wildlife habitat and carbon capture.
• Restoration of all damaged and poorly managed deep peatland to allow it to continue to capture carbon, benefit wildlife and reduce flooding.
• Design productive forests with resilience to diseases which seem to be more prevalent with climate change.

How should the vision be developed?
Which stakeholders do you think it would be particularly important to involve, and how? Would particular approaches be needed, for example, to reach particular groups?

Stakeholders would (by definition) include Individuals and groups who are concerned with upland land use. Farmers, landowners, fisherman, catchment managers, shooting tenants, rivers Trusts, landscape lobby groups (e.g. John Muir Trust), Scottish Wildlife Trust, National Trust for Scotland, outdoor enthusiast groups (e.g. Mountaineering Scotland).

What are your views on the process that might be needed to bring together the key interests and develop a shared vision?


Who would be best placed to lead this process?

Contracted out to experienced consultants, eg Scottish Agricultural College, University Departments,

What form should a vision for the uplands take (visual or descriptive, maps, diagrams or text)?

All of the above, with added video film. Use of GIS map layers as per the Borders Land Use Study pilot.

Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

RSforum
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Re: Consultation: Scoping a Strategic Vision for the Uplands

Postby RSforum » 12 Oct 2016, 13:16

This response was drawn together from a workshop at the Reforesting Scotland Gathering:

Reforesting Scotland Response to
Scoping a Strategic Vision for the Uplands

Where are the uplands?

1. What broad characteristics should we use to define the uplands? Some possible approaches are summarised in the annex to this note.

We recommend the Land Capability Classification for Agriculture which already exists. Classes 5-7 would probably equate to the Uplands.

What benefits do the uplands provide to Scotland?
2. What are the key social, economic and environmental benefits that the uplands provide for Scotland?

In random order- landscape, image of Scotland, wild products such as berries, wildness/ remoteness, carbon capture (peat and forestry), fresh air, fresh water, recreation, hutting sites, tranquillity, forests (native & commercial), self-realisation, venison, other game, biodiversity offsetting opportunities, jobs for local people, rural communities, crofting lifestyle, retreat space, biodiversity, soil protection, timber, wood fuel, wildlife tourism, energy.

3. How can upland land use help to prevent or reduce the impacts of climate change?

Carbon capture through peat, trees & scrub; flood mitigation, timber building materials, renewable energy- wood fuel, wind & hydro; room for species to move uphill; buffer zones; wild food production; a laboratory to study climate change; staycations as alternative to tourist travel.

What should an upland vision include?
4. A strategic vision could inform decisions about the balance between different land uses in different parts of the uplands. What are the key choices that an upland vision should address, and why?

Upland land use in Scotland suffers from rigid sectoral thinking- commercial conifers v sheep v grouse moor v wildlife habitat v archaeology, etc. All sharp line divisions. A strategic vision would allow integration. Rather than a sharp dividing line- often a fence on the ground, an upland vision could allow for a blurring of edges, buffer zones between land uses in the way that good forest design already encourages. The other key issue is the scale of integration.

5. Are there any other topics or issues that should be included in an upland vision, and if so why?


Reforesting Scotland puts people at the core of a vision for the uplands. We see more trees resulting in more opportunities for people and the development of a vibrant forest culture.

6. Are there any topics or issues that should be excluded from an upland vision, and if so why?

The dumping of nuclear waste, superquarries, etc.

How should the vision be developed?

7. Which stakeholders do you think it would be particularly important to involve, and how? Would particular approaches be needed, for example, to reach particular groups?
Existing rural communities. A roadshow going to community halls listening to viewpoints would be a good start. Reforesting Scotland has a vision for the role of future communities as well as the current ones.

8. What are your views on the process that might be needed to bring together the key interests and develop a shared vision?


If a non-sectoral integrated vision is to be developed, then sectoral interests need to be encouraged to take off their single interest hats. Perhaps people need to speak & listen as family members, community members, walkers, etc. rather than as sheep farmers, grouse moor managers and foresters. As people rather than land use interests.

9. Who would be best placed to lead this process?

A Scottish Government working group set up for the purpose, based on sustainable land-use, social, economic and environmental objectives.

10. What form should a vision for the uplands take (visual or descriptive, maps, diagrams or text)?


All of the above + drawings. Drawing taken from Green Manifesto for the Highlands, available from Reforesting Scotland.

11. Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

This is a great opportunity for positive thinking about the Uplands.


Donald McPhillimy

11 October 2016


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