Thursday, 5 May 2016

Understanding Predation Seminar - 3 May 2016

The group session in progress
This seminar was held on 3 May 2016, and 64 people had booked to attend.  I was grateful for SNH's hospitality at Battleby where the auditorium, refreshments and lunch were provided for the seminar.

The seminar was opened by Hugh Dignon, Head of Wildlife Management for the Scottish Government, and Andrew Bachell, Director Policy & Advice for SNH, and both stressed the importance of this project for their own organisations.  There would be support for imaginative, radical thinking and we need to adopt a more sophisticated way to tackle predation issues that moves beyond a single species approach.

James Butler, now working for CSIRO (an Australian research organisation) and Juliette Young (CEH) presented a case study of the development of the Moray Seal Management Plan.  There were similarities with the challenges identified by Understanding Predation in that there was agreement that some control of seals was required but a mechanism had to be found to achieve this.  A more flexible approach to licensing the control of seals, on a local basis, has helped achieve an effective management solution.

Ten proposals for work to apply the Understanding Predation principles were presented by a range of organisations, and seminar participants were formed into cross-sector groups to consider the concepts that had been promoted.   It was agreed that there should be a focus on Waders and the title for a framework to cover future work was agreed: "Developing management prescriptions for the conservation of waders in Scotland". Within this framework, the cross-sector groups were asked to consider: what was required, where it should take place (in general terms) and who should do it.  There was broad agreement, although there was a divergence of opinion on whether a national or local approach should be adopted.

To summarise the discussion, lists of issues were agreed to cover: where any work should take place, the scale, what was required, the constraints and the next steps.  It was agreed that the Project Steering Group should be reconvened to consider and refine these lists, with a view to presenting proposals to the Moorland Forum about how future work should be structured. This approach will also be discussed at the Chairman's Working Group meeting on 6 May 2016.

At the end of the seminar, Bob McIntosh, former Director Environment & Forestry for the Scottish Government, provided his view of the discussion.  He suggested that there was a clear appetite for change and quoted that "if you keep trying to go in the same direction, you will always get to the same destination". 

If we want to reach a different destination, we must be prepared to change direction.

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