Union Calls for Valuable Goose Management Support to Continue

NFU Scotland is calling on NatureScot to reverse its decision to end valuable financial support for managing the damaging numbers of geese found on many Scottish islands.

NatureScot has informed Local Goose Management Groups (LGMGs) on Uist, Tiree and Coll, Lewis and Harris, and Orkney of its intention to step back from any financial support for adaptive management (AM) schemes for Resident Greylag Geese (RGL) and offer a simple ‘advisory’ role going forwards.

NatureScot had previously indicated that it would support LGMGs to put in place sustainable funding arrangements for adaptive management and NFU Scotland believes that this has not yet been achieved.  While progress on managing resident Greylag numbers has been made on all islands, there have been recent significant setbacks, with numbers increasing because of the Covid pandemic restrictions limiting sporting activity, contractor and volunteer shooting on the islands and the ability to meet bag targets.

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “The grazing pressure exerted by the growing resident populations of Greylag geese on many Scottish islands continues to have a devastating impact on farming and crofting businesses.  Now is not the time for NatureScot to withdraw support.

“We are fully aware that the adaptive management schemes were always intended to be short term pilots to manage population density and mitigate against the agricultural damage caused by Greylags.  However, the pilots have demonstrated that with early intervention, funding and coordinated effort, farmers and crofters could control Greylag goose populations without harming conservation interests.  

“Uist, Tiree and Coll, Lewis and Harris have been able to make some progress towards their reduction targets, but the Orkney pilot only managed to contain the expansion of resident Greylag birds.

“When the pilots were reviewed in 2017, NatureScot recognised their fragile success and the need for further support to help LGMGs secure long-term benefit from them.

“When we look at the objectives that were set in 2017, several have yet to be achieved including the development of longer-term funding arrangements for management and development of infrastructure and marketing to allow the sale of goose meat.

“It is our view that until these objectives are met, and the populations of resident Greylags on these islands are reduced to a level where self-help is realistically achievable, it is not appropriate for NatureScot to withdraw financial and practical support and expect the pilots to continue as self-financing.

“Failure to do so will see those farmers and crofters involved in the pilots unable to control geese numbers and the populations rapidly increase - negating all the value of the public funding committed to date and the hugely significant commitment from farmers and crofters.”  Ends 

Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 115/21

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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