You may remember last May, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) wrote to the then Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to tell him that the continuing incidents of raptor persecution and ‘disappearing’ birds in the eastern part of the Cairngorms National Park “threatens to undermine the reputation of the National Park as a high quality wildlife tourism destination“. The Minister was invited to a meeting of ‘stakeholders’ to discuss ways to address the on-going problem (see here).
Eight months on, the current Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod attended that meeting earlier this week. Here’s what the CNPA press release said about it:
The Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, visited the Cairngorms National Park yesterday (19th January) to chair a meeting with landowners.
Meeting in Ballater, landowners, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) discussed how best to collaborate to deliver landscape scale benefits for objectives including moorland management, raptor conservation, woodland expansion and peatland restoration.
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said “I was pleased to meet with land owners in the Cairngorms National Park yesterday. The Cairngorms National Park, one of Scotland’s best places for nature, should be at the forefront of demonstrating an integrated approach to management that tackles some of our longstanding challenges, including raptor persecution, habitat diversity and carbon management. I very much welcome the positive collaboration shown yesterday between the National Park Authority and land owners and look forward to seeing a real difference on the ground”.
Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years and a shared determination to ensure no return of incidents connected to sporting management.
Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the CNPA said: “The Cairngorms is an outstanding place for nature and an internationally renowned tourism destination. We must all work to prevent the recurrence of raptor persecution, and focus on what we can do to enhance raptor conservation. This discussion helps take forward practical action on the ground, bringing together sporting management with wider priorities such as woodland expansion, peatland restoration and raptor conservation.”
Tim Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates said: “Moorland managed for sporting is the largest scale land use in the Park and we are pleased to be working with the Cairngorms National Park Authority to bring a number of estates together in a moorland management initiative. We see real opportunities through this very practical approach to show how management for sporting objectives is integrated with delivering diverse habitat and species benefits, and ways in which that can be taken further as science and national policies develop. This builds on the Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation scheme developed by Scottish Land & Estates which now covers 20% of the entire Park area”.
Moorland Management was one of the subjects at a recent CNPA board meeting, more information can be found at http://cairngorms.co.uk/media/news/taking-a-lead-on-moorland-collaboration-in-the-cairngorms
The press release doesn’t really tell us a great deal, other than these people met and talked. Unfortunately there’s scant detail about what they actually intend to do.
We did note the sentence: ‘Among the topics discussed was raptor persecution and conservation, with a recognition of the progress made in recent years and a shared determination to ensure no return of incidents connected to sporting management‘. What progress is that, then? Had there been any, presumably the CNPA wouldn’t have felt the need to ask the Minister for ‘action’ against raptor persecution within the Park.
The CNPA and its landowner ‘stakeholders’ are quite big on ‘action’. Who remembers the launch of ‘Cairngorms Nature’ in 2013? We blogged about it here. It’s an ambitious five-year ‘action plan’ which included the following ‘actions’:
ACTION: Restore the full community of raptor species.
KEY PARTNERS: SGA and SLE to trial innovative techniques to increase raptor populations.
Wonder how that’s going? What are the ‘innovative techniques’? Stop poisoning, shooting & trapping?
KEY SPECIES FOR FOCUSED ACTION: Golden eagle
KEY ACTIONS: SLE, SGA and SNH to work with moorland managers to manage mountain hare populations for the benefit of golden eagles.
Wonder how that’s going? Not terribly well by the looks of these photographs, taken in February 2014 near Glenshee, in the southern part of the National Park. Is this what Tim (Kim) Baynes means when he says “management for sporting objectives is integrated with species benefits“? We counted at least 150 dead hares, presumably killed during one session….Aren’t our National Parks great?