Far-reaching changes loom for land and river managers

red grouse male in rain by Michael Callan

Far-reaching proposals which will change the way Scotland’s countryside - and rural workers -  operate in future decades are being consulted upon.


Significant deer and sheep reductions, changes to grouse moor management and muirburn, protected site restoration, salmon conservation and a review of species licensing all feature.


However, while there are undoubted challenges, many SGA members are already delivering for Biodiversity across a wide range of mission critical areas.


So this national conversation represents an opportunity to showcase why our members’ knowledge and skills will be increasingly important if Scotland is to achieve climate and nature targets by 2030 and 2045 respectively. 


We will be taking every opportunity to do so, with Ministers and MSPs.


Practical solutions

new deer managers sitting theory papers at the SGA training centre

For example, our national training centre recently celebrated the milestone of training over 500 new deer managers to DSC1 or DSC2 level https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/latest-news/2023/2023-06-07-over-500-new-deer-managers-through-sga-centre.php


Just last week, project officials confirmed that 23 of the 28 eaglets from the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project had come from gamekeeper-managed estates. 

This comes just a few months after we revealed our Survey results (above) showing a 57% increase in eagle nests in only 7 years on gamekeeper-managed ground in Scotland https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/latest-news/2023/2023-04-21-huge-increase-in-eagle-nests-on-gamekeeper-managed-ground.php


Our members have been integral to the development of new muirburn practitioner training for Scotland, helping farmers, crofters, gamekeepers, fire professionals and conservationists use prescribed burning in a safe and beneficial way https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/latest-news/2023/2023-02-23-delivering-new-muirburn-practitioner-training.php

Many SGA members are planting woodlands for shooting and managing existing woods, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq1tC9G-yug

SGA Fishing Group member Duncan Ferguson has played an active role in the restoration at All Lorgy in the Cairngorms National Park. 

Our ghillies and river workers are helping restore rivers and are protecting freshwater habitats, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXugv_1_TKQ&t=218s


The list goes on…


What does the consultation look at


The consultation, launched last week, is called: Scotland’s Strategic Framework for Biodiversity. It sets the nation’s path for tackling the Nature Emergency.


The closing date is 14th December.


The SGA hopes to get as many members and supporters as possible to respond. We will be giving you help to do so, in the coming weeks.


The consultation is extensive in its reach. Indeed, it is probably the lengthiest single consultation the SGA has been involved in.


Some key proposals (but not all):

Atlantic salmon by Laurie Campbell
  • future deer densities of 5-8 per sq km in national parks and 10 per sq km nationally outside of parks
  • grouse and muirburn bill implemented
  • implementation of the Salmon strategy
  • review of NatureScot’s species licensing
  • development of rural skills required for delivery of 2030/2045 visions
  • re-assessment of priority species for conservation/restoration
  • peatland restoration
  • increased prevention and control of non-native invasive species
  • work towards zero fish farm escapes and sea lice thresholds for new sites
  • nearly 1m more hectares protected for nature
  • one more national park and increased park powers
  • biodiversity targets to be enshrined in law



More on the consultation and how to respond


You can find out more about the consultation and how to respond by visiting: https://www.gov.scot/publications/tackling-nature-emergency-consultation-scotlands-strategic-framework-biodiversity/documents/

What did the Minister say about gamekeeper input?


Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said:


“We are especially keen to hear the views of the stewards of our land and seas - farmers, gamekeepers and fishers who have the knowledge and skills to drive the transformation that is needed.”




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