Tuesday, 31 March 2015

SGA REGIONAL MEETING: ANGUS

Following another highly positive and well attended SGA Regional meeting in Aberdeenshire on Monday evening, the SGA team is on the road once again.
Members in Angus and the surrounding area are invited to Memus Hall on Monday 13th April, for a regional meeting to chat over all the things that are important to you.
The meeting will start at 7.30pm. Please bring membership proof as the meeting is for members only.
Thanks to everyone for their attendance and contributions at the recent meetings in the Borders and at Finzean.
We look forward to seeing you in Angus.





Friday, 27 March 2015

SGA ANNOUNCES THE INAUGURAL RONNIE ROSE AWARD.


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) is to inaugurate a new wildlife management award in memory of one of its most respected figures and champions.
Forestry and wildlife sectors were deeply saddened last December to hear of the passing of Ronnie Rose MBE at his home in Eskdalemuir.
A central figure in the SGA’s development, Ronnie was a passionate advocate of the work of wildlife managers in enhancing and caring for Scotland’s natural heritage.
His pioneering principles of forest design, which viewed wildlife as an asset, saw him oversee a 300 per cent increase in bird species in the forests of Eskdalemuir.
Now the SGA is to introduce an annual ‘Ronnie Rose Award’ for wildlife/game managers as part of its Year of the Rural Worker programme.
Experienced practitioners will be nominated for the award which celebrates lasting contributions to conservation, habitat, species management or rural education on river, low ground, hill or forest.
Peers, co-workers and employers can put forward individuals they feel deserving of the prize in memory of the award winning wildlife manager and author.
The winner will then be judged from a shortlist and a special trophy will be presented at this year’s Highland Field Sports Fair at Moy in August.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Ronnie was a true giant. Wildlife management was his life and many of his ideas are now staples of forestry best practice. 
“We are delighted, with the blessing of Ronnie’s family, to introduce this award in his name and it is fitting as we honour the contributions made to Scotland by the rural labour force in our Year of the Rural Worker.
“Ronnie believed that riches were derived, not from money, but from the work undertaken in respect of countryside stewardship.
“The award is open to all those who practice or educate in wildlife management and we look forward to presenting it for the first time this summer.
“Coupled with our Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award, these prizes incentivise good management practice, from young men and women embarking on a career through to experienced practitioners.”
Over a 50 year career, Ronnie Rose, whose father and grandfather were both Head Stalkers at Balmoral, received many conservation accolades including the Balfour Brown Trophy for Humane and Sustainable Management of Deer.
He helped establish the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Loch Lomond and his pioneering work for Economic Forestry Group Scotland at Eskdalemuir is a permanent legacy to his stewardship.
At neighbouring Blackhouse Forest, his management saw lekking blackcock rise by over 50 per cent at a time of spiralling national decline.
His book, Working with Nature: The Conservation and Management of Scottish Wildlife is still widely read and appreciated today.

**To nominate someone for the award, contact the SGA office on info@scottishgamekeepers.co.uk and put: Ronnie Rose Award, in the subject line. Give a brief description of why you think your chosen individual is deserving of consideration. Once we have all the entries, the judging panel will make a decision on shortlist then final winner. Please send your nominations by July 1st 2015.
** To nominate someone for the Young Gamekeeper of the Year award, contact Scottish Gamekeeper Editor on ks.writer@virgin.net and put: Young Gamekeeper award in the subject line. Give a brief description of why you think your chosen individual is deserving of consideration.  Entries to be received by June 1st 2015.

Criteria for Young Gamekeeper of the Year is as follows:


  • Passion for his/her field of management
  • Adherence to/appreciation of the law and best practice in the delivery of duty
  • A strong work ethic and willingness to learn and adapt
  • A solid understanding of why sound management is important to Scotland's countryside, its economy and wildlife.

SGA FISHING GROUP AT PARLIAMENT


The SGA Fishing Group was represented as one of the stakeholders at the first Scottish Government-chaired meeting at Victoria Quay on Thursday (26th March) regarding Wild Fisheries Reform.
Stakeholders from various organisations will help inform proposals for a parliamentary Bill on wild fisheries reform, which will then be taken forward by Ministers, most probably after the Scottish Parliamentary elections of May 2016.
The first stage of the process was the Wild Fisheries Review, which reported in October 2014.
The SGA Fishing Group will be involved in the Stakeholder Group until the Bill completes the Parliamentary process and members will be consulted on their views throughout.
Meanwhile, it is hoped the first full meeting of the SGA Fishing Group will take place in April/early May and members will be notified of times/venues as soon as the final arrangements are confirmed.
Members, please keep checking the website/social media/magazine for news bulletins as the group progresses.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

CAN YOU HELP THE SCOTTISH WILDCAT?

photo by George Macdonald
The Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan (SWCAP) was launched in 2013 with the aim of reversing the serious decline of the Scottish wildcat. The SWCAP was developed by the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Group, a large and diverse group of stakeholders including SGA, BASC and SLE, coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage. 
As part of the SWCAP, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) are responsible for developing a captive breeding for release programme and collecting further data on the genetic status of wildcats in Scotland.  
RZSS are currently looking for sites to undertake live trapping of potential wildcats and are keen to hear from Landowners, Land Managers and Gamekeepers, as to sites that may be suitable for trapping. Of particularly interest are areas where feral cat control is currently being undertaken where the use of live traps could be employed to facilitate the removal of potential wildcats. 
Any potential wildcat trapped will be taken to the Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig and undergo genetic, pelage and veterinary assessment. Cats deemed suitable will be included in the conservation breeding programme and managed as part of a captive population to maintain the maximum level of genetic diversity possible.

For further information and to report areas thought to be suitable for trapping of wildcats please contact SGA Committee man George Macdonald on 07827 301 917 or the RZSS Wildcat Project Officer, Helen Dickinson on 07958749101 or hdickinson@rzss.org.uk

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

KNOW ABOUT PREDATION? HELP DECISION MAKERS UNDERSTAND IT BETTER


The SNH-funded project Understanding Predation is now open, enabling all those with knowledge of  the relationship between predators and wading and wild game birds to get involved.
Using this link: http://www.jottercms.com/showpage.php?id=12411 members can offer their observations on this subject and send them direct to the project team via the home page of the Moorland Forum, which is operating the programme.
We strongly recommend that members take advantage of this rare chance to offer as much detail as possible on this subject, thereby potentially helping to inform future decisions on species management and new conservation approaches.
Following our Year of the Wader, which saw members gather information on wading birds on their ground, this is an opportunity to participate in a novel 'collaborative' approach which will see local knowledge considered alongside science, in the overall findings.
The project will ultimately evaluate the existing effectiveness of management options.
The launch statement read: "Understanding predation will consider predators, not only as a conservation interest in their own right but will also examine how they interact with vulnerable or declining prey species. The reported decline of wading birds is a cause of great concern and this project will provide a better and shared understanding of the role that predation has had in this decline. We will investigate the often-controversial disparity between scientific knowledge and local knowledge arising from the direct observations of local people on the ground. We recognise that these differences can lead to conflict, creating a deadlock between theory and practice, which can seriously hamper constructive progress.
"Through discussion, the project will provide a shared understanding of the issues, and this will form a platform from which to seek agreement about how we can best move forward for the benefit of all wild bird species in Scotland. Taking such a novel approach is likely to provide some challenges, but we believe that the effort is justified by the potential for the work to provide enormous benefits for nature conservation."


Monday, 16 March 2015

REGIONAL MEETING- ABERDEENSHIRE


Following on from the recent successful regional meeting in the Scottish Borders, a further regional meeting for SGA members will take place at Finzean Hall at 7pm for 7.30 pm start on Monday 30th March, 2015. Members should bring cards/numbers for registration. We look forward to seeing you on the night.

Friday, 13 March 2015

MAKE USE OF THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PESTICIDE DISPOSAL SCHEME

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association is one of the delivery partners of the Scottish Government's Pesticide Disposal Scheme, aimed at removing banned substances from the environment.
We encourage members to make use of this scheme, which will only be operated for a short, fixed, time.
Rules governing pesticide use, handling and possession, change. If you find any unspecified substance in outbuildings and suspect its use may have changed, please take advantage of this disposal scheme. You can call the SGA office in confidence and any substances can be disposed of, safely and legally. The SGA, as a PAW Scotland partner, has been greatly encouraged by falls in poisoning incidents of wild animals in recent years and continues to work towards making sure this trend continues. You can find more details about the scheme, here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/paw-scotland/what-you-can-do/pesticides

SGA FISHING GROUP THANKS TAY GHILLIES

The SGA Fishing Group would like to thank members of the Tay Ghillies Association for inviting us along to the group's meeting in Stanley on Tuesday.
It was a welcome opportunity to discuss how the current state of our rivers, coupled with forthcoming political changes in The Wild Fisheries Review, will affect working people on the rivers.
We were also greatly encouraged by the passion everyone demonstrated for making the rivers work, to preserve employment, economics, tourism, conservation and a way of life.
Since the discussions, further communications have been held aimed at gaining strong representation from across the country as a whole.
We will update on the progress of this, when the first core policy committee will be formed and will meet, and how we can work with efficiency on all the issues affecting us.
Once again, thanks for the support and to all those who have joined up already. If anyone wishes to join and wants more information, please contact the SGA office on 01738 587 515.

Monday, 9 March 2015

MEMBER INFORMATION: COMPANY CLAIMING LINKS WITH REPRESENTATIVE GROUPS

The SGA has today received information from our friends at Gamekeepers Welfare Trust alerting us that a finance company has been contacting gamekeepers in the North of England claiming their products are associated with the NGO and GWT.
GWT and NGO have both sent letters to the company in question, stressing there is no association and that it is, therefore, incorrect of the company to claim one.
The SGA wishes to point out to its members that, if a finance company approaches them claiming its products are associated with NGO, GWT or SGA, then this is not the case.

SWAROVSKI BINOCULARS WINNER

Winner Scott Bremner receiving the Swarovski Binoculars from SGA Chairman Alex Hogg after the draw.
The SGA would like to thank all members and non-members who entered the raffle for our Swarovski Binoculars, which was drawn at Friday's AGM at Perth Racecourse.
Lucky winner was Scott Bremner, who will no doubt get the benefit of such an excellent prize.
Thanks must also go to Swarovski Optik for generously donating the Binoculars. The SGA looks forward to developing closer ties with the company in future.


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Friday, 6 March 2015

SGA ANNOUNCES 'YEAR OF THE RURAL WORKER' WITH JOBS WARNING


Ending rate exemptions for deer stalking and shooting will sacrifice over 100 rural worker jobs immediately, with further losses to follow as land reforms bed in.
That’s the view of Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), who announced a year long initiative today (Friday), outlining the vital role land labourers and their families play in community life.
The proposed abolition of business rate exemptions for country sports and the imposition of new angling taxes have been identified by the SGA as two potential causes of rural job losses.
At present, the organisation represents 5300 members with around 1500 of those employed as full-time gamekeepers, land or river ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers.
After taking soundings from its membership, the feeling is that 7 per cent of those may face redundancy and housing problems immediately if radical land reforms are pushed through.
Launching ‘The Year of the Rural Worker’, at the body’s AGM in Perth, Chairman Alex Hogg urged politicians from all parties not to make stretched families pay the price for change.
“As an organisation, we are aware there are situations in which land reform can work. We oppose bad management of all kinds, whether the ownership is public or private.
“However, removing business rate exemptions for shooting and stalking won’t help achieve a million acres of land in community hands by 2020, it will simply cost the job of a working person on every marginal estate or shoot across Scotland. 
“Businesses adapt to financial change. The overwhelming view of our members is that, on estates where sporing profits are tight, that adjustment will be a wage.
“That is likely to be a worker on a modest salary who receives a house to bring up a family in the local community. These individuals give a great deal back to Scotland, for which they take little in return, but they keep the heartbeat in small places. They have had nothing to do with the way land ownership patterns have emerged, yet it is them who will be made to suffer. That’s not social justice. If land reform is such a priority for Scottish Government, they must find a better way to finance The Land Fund than by placing working people on the dole.”
At today’s launch at Perth Racecourse, the group outlined its ‘Year of the Rural Worker’ programme, which follows its conservation project, the 2014 ‘Year of the Wader’.
Work over the next 9 months will be devoted to highlighting the ‘unseen’ hours given freely by rural workers in areas such as lifeline services.
The SGA is in talks to formalise existing ties with Mountain Rescue with many of its members already volunteers in both Rescue and Fire Services.
The Group’s Chairman Alex Hogg also pointed to a Christmas community initiative in Aberdeenshire where local workers, councillors and estates provided free game to vulnerable families.
“The human face of working people in the countryside is too rarely seen and their contribution undervalued. These are people with the same desires for bringing up a family, having good local schools and access to services as anyone else. They deal with low wages, the highest fuel and heating costs and patchy or non-existent broadband. It is time their contribution was seen as under-pinning the countryside rather than having job threats hanging over them.”