Since the 1970s, there has been a steady increase in goose numbers of some species in parts of Scotland, particularly around the remote and fragile islands and coastal areas. Farmers and crofters in these areas are seeing a significant increase in damage to farmland as a result of growing goose populations and are having to adjust their farming activity to cope. In August last year the Scottish Crofting Federation issued a call to crofters and farmers to sign up to the on-line petition to review the policy of wild geese and October saw a delegation from Islay in Brussels to discuss the goose threat.
To discuss the challenges set by farming with both protected and quarry species of geese across Scotland the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) is holding a two-day conference on Islay on the 10th and 11th of March, which will focus on the management of wild geese in Scotland. The conference, chaired by Ken Rundle of SRUC, will see a range of speakers including the Unionâ€™s President Nigel Miller and Deputy Director of Policy Andrew Bauer. Around 45 delegates are expected to come to Islay for the conference. Continue reading...
On Monday the 10th of March there will farm visits including to the RSPB Wildlife Reserve at Loch Gruinart while Tuesday the 11th the conference itself, covering a range of topics, will take place at the Ionaid Chaluim Chille Ile (Columba Centre). Amongst the speakers are Paul Walton, Head of Habitats and Species at the RSPB who will speak about meeting the UKâ€™s nature conservation objectives and David Stroud, Senior Ornithological Adviser Joint Nature Conservation Council and Alyn Walsh National Parks and Wildlife Service in Ireland, amongst others from the industry. The afternoon will feature workshops for attendees focussing on co-existence of protected species alongside farming as well as the impact of quarry species of geese.
Nigel Miller, president of NFU Scotland who will be speaking at the event, commented: â€œThis is an important event for not only Islay, but many other areas which have been affected by the increase in the goose population. The lessons learnt and the experience gained on Islay will have a real spin off benefit for other regions. From the two-day conference we aim to re-examine the Scottish Governmentâ€™s policy objectives on goose management and ensure there is a viable future for agricultural businesses which are affected by geese in the Highlands and Islands and other areas of Scotland. The future changes to the Common Agricultural Policy will have a significant impact on farmers in these fragile areas. The habitat that has been built by farmers may become damaged if wildlife populations, like geese, are not managed. We need to ensure there is support in place to help farmers cope with growing goose populations.â€
The Friday following the conference a meeting is scheduled with NFUS representatives and the Agriculture Minister.