Lordy lordy, new Chairman elected at Scottish Land & Estates

Lord David JohnstoneLord David Johnstone has been announced as the next Chairman of landowners’ group, Scottish Land & Estates. He will succeed the current Chairman, Luke Borwick, in May.

Lord Johnstone owns and manages Annandale Estates (includes commercial game-shooting interests) in Dumfriesshire and is currently a Board Member of SLE.

SLE press release on his appointment here.

We’ve heard from Lord Johnstone a few times in the past, specifically about raptor persecution (in 2008 here, in 2011 here, and in 2012 here).

11 thoughts on “Lordy lordy, new Chairman elected at Scottish Land & Estates”

  1. He obviously has no knowledge of other areas of law (e.g. Licensing, Weights and Measures) if he believes making an employer unilaterally responsible for the actions of their employee is unprecedented.

  2. Best thing this guy could do would be to lay off all his gamekeepers for the close season, this would save him a fortune, this is the time of year they do most damage to the countryside, fires out of control and illegal persecution in the name of pest control, both the rspb and gwct have proved pest control makes very little difference to prey populations. better to save a fortune by not paying unnessecary wages and just release a few hundred birds more.

      1. The answer to that is pretty simple, its to preserve “rare” birds and is used as a last resort. They aren’t killed just so the lads possibly have a few more pheasants to kill.
        The numbers culled equate to just over one fox and one crow on each of their 216 reserves
        Don’t you remember the outcry from the shooting fraternity regarding the loss of a little Tern colony through predation and how they ridiculed the rspb over its failure to implement any kind of control measures
        Checkout the Allerton project (gwct) and the Hope Farm project (rspb) both projects demonstrate it is possible to increase farmland biodiversity and the numbers of breeding birds while still making a profit on the farms.
        The allerton project stopped extra feeding and predator control for a certain time and saw a decrease in breeding birds, strangely they deduced the fall was due to the lack of predator control
        Strangely the Hope farm saw no decrease in its wildlife even though there was no predator control
        Do you think that the fall in breeding at Allerton was due to the lack of predator control or the lack of food, personally I think it was due to lack of food and can back this up with my own research. It I put food on my bird table everyday for a month the number of birds visiting my garden increases. If I then leave it without food for a month the number of birds decrease. Oh and I haven’t used any predator control methods.
        Even more bizarrely the Allerton project didn’t release any large quantities of Pheasants during their project and while I congratulate them on getting Grey Partridge numbers up to 18 pairs per hundred hectares it would be interesting to see how many would remain in 5 years time if pheasants and red legged Partridge were released on the gwct maximum guidelines of 500 pairs of each per 100 hectares

    1. If you think the GWCT have proved that predator control makes little difference either you have never read the otterburn report or you read it with your eyes shut! And, as Rural rascal points out why do the RSPB control foxes and crows on their reserves if there is no point!?

      1. grouseman i stand by my statement pest control makes “very little” difference to prey species populations, there are numerous studies to prove this, read about witham woods if you get chance, it’s one of the most studied woodlands in the uk. there’s some brilliant research done on Sparrowhawk and Great tit relationship, this has been commented on by various organisations including songbird survival. top and bottom line reads though that although Sparrowhawks prey heavily on young Great Tits they have little to no effects on the Great tit population. the proof is in the fact both birds remain in those woods today, just in the same way over the last few million years our wildlife has survived quite well without gamekeepers
        i’ll repeat my answer re the rspb culling a few foxes and crows just in case you missed it in
        my answer to rural “ the rspb cull a few corvids and foxes as a last resort in order to protect rare nesting birds”
        I had a quick look at the Otterburn report and to be honest it’s about as scientific as the Allerton report, they dismiss the findings of the rspb, they state merlins are doing well on the north yorkshire moors? was this written before the gun was invented? get real. shooting is an unsavory pastime at best, in order to make it more palatable to the general public you have to make out there are some benefits, it would be nice if you could at least make some of the bullshit you write believable.
        i’ll also repeat my main point. the best thing the shooting fraternity could do would be to lay gamekeepers off during the close season, land owners obviously have no control over them, they are doing more harm than good, this time last year how many out of control fires were there? they were blamed on hill walkers! how many gamies have appeared in courtrooms up and down the country for killing protected wildlife? posioning incidents went up over 100% last year. you and your mates need to take a long hard look at your sport, take off your i love gamekeepers glasses and sort out your problems.
        is there any chance on an answer about what you think would happen to the 18 pairs of grey partridges per 100 hectares at allerton if you released 500 pairs of both pheasants and red legs on the same land, plus an opinion on what would happen to the other farmland birds, perhaps there would be more damage than if you did no predator control

        1. Yes, Merlin. The Sparrowhawk-Great Tit relationship you allude to involves that well-documented and scientifically proven aspect of the natural world that the shooting industry cannot understand or recognise – the natural balance! All conservation organisations are aware of it and generally manage the land in favour of this concept, with the exception of those involved in shooting.

          However, I will disagree slightly on your take on the predator control issue – the large scale killing of predators, much of it illegally, being carried out on shooting estates has a massive detrimental impact to the environment. The killing of the top predators will mean that prey species will be able to flourish, but this in turn will have a negative knock-on effect to the species lower down the food chain – in other words an imbalance in the environment.

          But anyway, back to the GWCT and their Otterburn report. I admit that I haven’t read the full report (is the full report available online?), but I have had a brief look at the Waders on the Fringe document and some other related pages.

          I must forewarn people to take this type of information with a pinch of salt, as these types of reports can be heavily biased in favour of the shooting and gamekeeping industries. Undoubtedly, some authors can choose to use some of the information to support their own agenda, but completely ignore other aspects of the report that could prove gamekeeping does not offer the huge benefits that the shooting lobby would have people believe.

          In my opinion, in this report the GWCT has cherry-picked the information they want to put across, so to prove that data can be used to suit any agenda, I supply the following examples;

          If we look at Table 1 on page 12 of the Waders on the Fringe document, we can see that Plot A (Otterburn), was keepered from 2001 to 2004, and unkeepered from 2005 to 2009. It is very interesting to note that in 2000 the Curlew population stood at 17 pairs, yet in 2003, during the keepered period, it had fallen to an all-time low of 9 pairs. By 2008, after four years of no keepering activity, the Curlew population had increased again to 17 pairs, with a 12% success rate – the exact same as it was at the beginning of the study, and before any keepering.
          Golden Plovers were at an all-time population high during the non-keepered phase, and even at the end of the period (again during the non-keepered phase) the population was higher than when the survey began.
          Similarly, with the Lapwing, huge increases were much in evidence during the non-keepered phases. Indeed, after four years of no keepering activity, the population was only one pair down on the maximum number of pairs during the keepered phase.

          In Plot B (Bellshiel), we have Curlews at 14 pairs at the beginning of the survey (and 10 pairs during the unkeepered phase), falling to an alarming 3 pairs during the keepered phase. Furthermore, during the keepered phase, the success rate for the species fell from 67% to 0%. During the unkeepered phase, the success rate had risen from 14% to 20%.
          The Golden Plover population stood at four pairs in 2000, yet after the end of the survey and the keepered phase, it stood at 3 pairs.
          The Lapwing’s all-time low for this plot occurred during the keepered phase, with 0 pairs and 0% success rate.

          Plot C (Ray Demesne) was keepered for the duration (2001-2008). The year-2000 Lapwing population stood at 21 pairs, the exact same as 8 years of intensive gamekeeping.
          A similar story for the Golden Plover population, which stood at 6 pairs in 2000, and after eight years of gamekeeping, at 6 pairs. In fact, this species suffered a decline in success rate, from 33% in 2000 to an all-time low of 25%.
          Even worse was in store for the Lapwing, with 12 pairs and a 50% success rate in 2000, to 8 pairs in 2007. This all-time population low, followed the all-time success rate low of 36% the previous year.

          Plot D (Emblehope) was unkeepered for the duration of the survey. The Curlew population fell by only three pairs during the survey period.
          Golden Plovers had a dramatic increase in the success rate, from 14% to 33%.
          The Lapwing success rate remained stable throughout the entire period.

          So there we have it, it’s easy to use data to compile propagandist reports – I have just cherry picked the same data, but in an altogether different way from the GWCT. Indeed, one would have to question why the Snipe, an upland wader which was unaffected by predator control, was virtually ignored in the document, despite being a target species during the survey.

          [Ed: Thanks Marco. Slightly edited].

          1. Hi Marco
            it took me a while to get past your statement “However, I will disagree slightly on your take ” but glad I did :-) cracking bit of work mate.
            surprisingly still no response from Grouseman who it seems once again, deems himself knowledgable enough to correct us on some issues but wont educate us with answers to some of our questions

        2. I don’t feel I can comment on what would happen to the other farmland birds if red legged partridges and pheasants were released as there are so many variables. You may however be surprised that we perhaps agree on something as I feel releasing these things would have a very detrimental impact on the 18 pairs of grey partridge. Indeed many wild partridge shoots in the past treated pheasants as vermin as they knows they had a negative impact on the native grey partridges.

  3. Grouseman, agree about the variables on other wildlife but a lot of people dont realise cock pheasants in season will fight with almost any other bird. in fact poachers use to release small game cocks with nooses on their legs near to crowing pheasants knowing that they’d fight each other and get tangled up.
    thank you for your honest answer though, appreciated

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