The Trust in Scotland is bringing our policies to the fore with leading politicians at this crucial time of change

Minister for Environment Paul Wheelhouse (right) with Project Manager Graeme Dalby, discussing the efficacy of moorland management techniques on Langholm MoorThere have been and continue to be a number of policy fronts which the GWCT Scotland team are actively working on. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform is perhaps at the forefront of our present workload given the critical stage that negotiations are moving towards. As part of the Scottish Government’s CAP Stakeholder Group the Trust is working towards a balanced farming future, one that recognises the environmental benefits that are delivered by farmers every day but which also provides a system of adequately supported agri-environment schemes which bring measurable biodiversity benefits.

We have raised concerns with the Scottish Government about amendments to Green by Definition proposals as we plan for Ecological Focus Areas to benefit from agri-environment stewardship payments. The Trust is closely monitoring greening amendments as they pass from the European Agricultural Committee to the European Parliament. MEPs are due to vote on these proposals in early March. With our research into existing agri-environment schemes and with the support of our Scottish CAP Reform policy group, which is made up of members and supporters from the Tayside and Fife area, we are producing an informed policy position on the next Scottish Rural Development Programme with the aspiration of making pillar 2 deliver a targeted conservation benefit for Scotland’s wildlife. The Trust has been asked to attend the Scottish Government’s agri-environment sub-group to discuss future Stewardship prescriptions.

Land reform

The Scottish Land Reform Review Group’s published report presents a number of challenging recommendations to Scottish Government in relation to land ownership and the complex legal and social dynamics that surround ownership.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust are reviewing this report and Scottish Government’s response with great interest, particularly the in the context of outcomes for our wildlife. We have already noted that the report makes repeated reference to the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy and it’s apparent support for an alternative land use paradigm, predominantly for the uplands. We also note that there is only one reference to the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy at a time when this Strategy is being challenged to deliver significant improvements to wildlife across Scotland by 2020.

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Scottish biodiversity strategy

Director Scotland, Adam Smith, gave evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee in January 2013. The Committee focused on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and the Trust’s response on delivering multiple ecosystem services in rural Scotland. The Trust made the point strongly that biodiversity could not be delivered on protected sites alone and that engagement with the land management community was needed. Discussions also touched on the use of pesticides and the impact this is having on our precious bee and hoverfly populations.

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