Way Forward For Geese Management Charted at National Conference

A final plan for Islay to be developed for the future management of wild geese
NFU Scotland welcomed more than 40 people from various areas of Scotland to a national conference which focussed on producing a long-term management plan for wild geese.
The aim of ‘The Sustainable Management of Wild Geese Management’ event was to explore where the current goose management is at, not just on Islay but elsewhere in Scotland, as well as charting a way forward for farmers and other interested parties.
Site visits took place on Monday 10 March to farms on Islay which have been affected by geese allowing those in attendance to view the damage caused by geese on some farms.
The group also visited the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Nature Reserve at Loch Gruinart to see the work ongoing to conserve the geese populations and to hear how they are working with local farmers to bring geese to the reserve instead of onto nearby farmland.
The damage caused to the fields on Eorrabus Farm was evident during the visit with a visible difference in the sward that has been affected by geese and other areas which haven’t. During a visit to the Archibald family at Craigends farm the scaring methods taken to keep geese off some of their best land was discussed as well as the financial implications associated.
On Tuesday 11 March, the second day of the event, speakers from various organisations took to the floor at Ionaid Chaluim Chille Ile (Columba Centre), Isle of Islay to address more than 40 people.
Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB; Brian Moss, Orkney Representative for NFU Scotland; Jim McHarrie, Islay Representative for NFU Scotland; Rae Mckenzie, Project Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage and Bill Dundas, Principal Agricultural Officer, Scottish Government were amongst those who gave presentations.
Workshops also took place to discuss how to measure the impact of geese and economic losses on agricultural land; options for practical management and collaborative adaptive management of wild geese.

In terms of going forward it is hoped now on Islay that a final plan is developed for the sustainable management of the geese population, whilst liaising with other countries and collecting base line data. A scheme will then be developed from that final plan and funding identified as part of that.
Andrew Bauer, Deputy Director of Policy for NFU Scotland, spoke at the event about minimising the economic loss to farmers.
He commented: “NFU Scotland is delighted to have welcomed farmers, crofters, conservationists, regulators and others from many areas of Scotland to Islay to discuss the sustainable management of wild geese.
“There was broad acceptance of the impacts of some species on farming, and the need to reduce these impacts in a way that does not jeopardise the viability of the geese populations.
“NFU Scotland now looks forward to working with others to implement sustainable solutions to the geese issues facing farmers and crofters across the country.”
President of NFU Scotland, Nigel Miller said: “Islay provided a spectacular backdrop to the seminar which has focused on securing the success of goose conservation.
“That success story has created population pressures which now degrade the farmland habitats which provide vital wintering grounds.
“Sustainable solutions for both land and goose management are now key to the future. Today was an opportunity to share experiences from across Scotland and Ireland and are the first steps towards conserving habitats, protected species and creating viable farming systems.”
Robert Epps, of Ardnave Farm, NFU Scotland’s Islay branch chairman, commented: “There has been recognition that all stakeholders must make compromises and a consensus that any meaningful progress must involved careful and robust planning.
“That said, we [Islay Branch of NFUS] are optimistic that progress has, and will be made, to address these national goose problems.”
Notes to editors

  • Photographs from the site visits on Monday 10 March and from the seminar on Tuesday 11 March are available on request from or by phoning 0131 472 4000.

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 52/14

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