10 more ospreys translocated to Poole Harbour

Ten more young ospreys have been successfully translocated from Scotland and released at Poole Harbour in Dorset as part of a project to re-establish a breeding population in southern England.

Beginning in 2017, the Poole Harbour Osprey Translocation Project is led by the charity Birds of Poole Harbour, the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local tech business Wildlife Windows.

[An osprey photographed at Lychett Bay in Poole on 25th August 2021. Photo by Rene Goad]

Ospreys were extirpated in the UK by the early 1900s, largely due to persecution and egg collectors. The species naturally recolonised Scotland in 1954. During the late 1990s, a pioneer translocation project re-established the species at Rutland Water in the Midlands and ospreys have since spread to Northumberland and Wales. Further translocation projects have since taken place in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland and another is planned for Suffolk.

The restoration of a breeding population in Poole Harbour, where they haven’t bred for 180 years, is seen as key to connecting the existing UK and European populations.

For updates on the project please follow the Birds of Poole Harbour website (here) and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation (here).

Freedom of information documents highlight gamekeepers, fox hunting and raptor persecution in 3 public forests

The Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind has today revealed that Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) is still permitting the use of fox-hunting foot packs in several public forests, partly for the benefit of privately-owned grouse shooting estates. These public forests also happen to be in well-known raptor persecution hotspots.

In a freedom of information response, FLS admitted allowing the fox-hunt foot packs to operate in three public woodlands near Inverness: Loch Farr Wood, Farr Wood and Meall Mor near Moy.

[Moy has long been of interest to this blog, mostly for the frequency of illegal raptor persecution incidents recorded there for over a decade. And then there’s this: a photo to illustrate the stupidity of setting fire to the moor for grouse management, a few hundred yards from some publicly-subsidised wind turbines!]

The FoI documents also reveal that FLS staff suspected that gamekeepers were visiting the forests to look for fox dens to block up, which also happened to be beside Schedule 1 raptor nests, some of which have been repeatedly attacked in previous years.

For example, in 2016 Police Scotland issued an appeal for information after one goshawk and four buzzard nests were abandoned in suspicious circumstances in Moy Forest (see here).

In 2017, also in Moy Forest, masked gunmen were caught on camera underneath a goshawk nest. The nest, containing a clutch of eggs, was mysteriously abandoned shortly afterwards (see here and here).

In July this year, Police Scotland appealed for information after a dead goshawk was found in Loch Farr Wood – this bird had been shot (see here).

The issue of fox-hunting is beyond the remit of this blog although I’d question whether a Scottish Government agency should be complicit in supporting the eradication of native predators for the benefit of driven grouse shooting, which is what appears to be happening here.

If you’d like to read more about OneKind’s freedom of information request and FLS’s response about fox-hunting, gamekeepers and raptor persecution in these public forests, please see the OneKind blog (here) and an article in today’s National (here).

Meanwhile, as the authorities seem unable to tackle raptor persecution in public forests, we’re all still waiting to see whether NatureScot will impose a General Licence restriction on Moy Estate following the discovery of a poisoned satellite-tagged red kite found on the grouse moor almost a year ago, in October 2020 (see here).

12 more white-tailed eagles released on Isle of Wight

Twelve more white-tailed eagles (also known as sea eagles) have been released on the Isle of Wight as part of a licensed project to reintroduce the species to southern England.

Formerly resident in parts of England, the sea eagle was extirpated a few hundred years ago thanks to persecution. The same thing happened in Scotland but the eagles have since been successfully reintroduced there after Norway generously donated young birds for the project, first for the Isle of Rum (1975) and then later in Wester Ross (1993-1998).

The reintroduction project in southern England is led by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England, and began in 2019 by releasing six eagles in the first year and seven birds last year, bringing the total released so far to 25.

The aim is to release up to 60 birds over a period of five years with the objective of creating a small breeding population in the region after an absence of over 240 years.

Young eaglets are being collected by experts from the Scottish Raptor Study Group, under licence, from selected nest sites in western Scotland and are taken down to special release aviaries on the Isle of Wight where they’re cared for until ready for release. Each eagle is carrying a satellite transmitter so the team can monitor and track their progress.

[Two young sea eagles released from the holding aviary and considering their first flights. Photo by Forestry England]

Roy Dennis, MBE, Founder of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation said: “We are now three years into this reintroduction project, and it is extremely encouraging to see just how successfully white-tailed eagles are settling into the English landscape. Highlights for me have included watching the birds learn how to successfully fish all year round and the growing interactions between the birds. I am also always fascinated in tracking some of their huge exploratory flights across England and Europe and their ultimate return back to the Isle of Wight.” 

We have seen from other reintroduction programmes that returning lost species offers real benefits for the health of our environment, and to people and local economies. None of this would be possible without the support of many people and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us again with this year’s release and ongoing monitoring of the birds.” 

Steve Egerton-Read, White-Tailed Eagle Project Officer, Forestry England, said: “Over the last three years we have closely tracked the progress of these incredible birds. It’s been brilliant to see how well they are fitting into the landscape and we are hopeful that before too long they will breed in England again.” 

It’s been particularly rewarding to hear from people across the country who are delighted to have seen the birds in their local area. It’s still a real thrill for me to see these incredible birds in the skies above the Isle of Wight and I look forward to the day that they are re-established right across southern England.” 

For more information about the project and to keep updated about the eagle’s movements, please visit the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation website here.

Lorna Slater is new Biodiversity Minister in Scotland

Scotland has a new Biodiversity Minister following the historic power share agreement between the SNP and the Greens.

As part of the agreement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed two new Ministers from the Greens – Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater.

Here’s the formal announcement from the Scottish Government, dated 30 Aug 2021:

New Ministers to be appointed

Scottish Greens to enter Government

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced her intention to appoint two new Ministers following the approval of the historic Bute House agreement.

For the first time anywhere in the UK members of the Green Party will enter government and for the first time since devolution a formal cooperation agreement will be in place in Scotland.

Patrick Harvie will be Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, working with the Housing Secretary and Net Zero Secretary.

Mr Harvie’s responsibilities will include driving policy changes that shift Scotland away from reliance on high carbon modes of transport and heating and towards greener alternatives – essential as part of the push towards a net zero economy by 2045.

Ensuring fairness during that transformation will also be key, and Mr Harvie will lead on delivering a new deal for tenants, and ensuring building standards are fit for purpose.

Lorna Slater will take on the role of Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, working with the Finance and Economy Secretary and Net Zero Secretary.

Ms Slater will drive a Green Industrial Strategy, helping people access training and opportunities as part of a net zero Scotland, and ensuring our economy is supported through a just transition to net zero.

Supporting biodiversity and protecting our national parks and natural heritage will also form part of Ms Slater’s role, working closely with NatureScot and Zero Waste Scotland and supporting the development of a circular economy that minimises the impact on our natural environment.

The First Minister said:

This historic cooperation agreement is founded in a shared drive to work together in the Scottish Government to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland.

We have massive challenges to overcome: a global pandemic and its lasting effects, the climate emergency and the assault by the UK government on the powers of our Parliament. Patrick and Lorna’s roles in Government are rightly at the heart of facing up to them, and the expertise and passion they bring with them will contribute greatly to defining Scotland’s path forward in doing so.

Although our parties do not agree on everything we have been able to compromise on both sides, find common ground and agree on areas where we can work together to build a better country.

The world has had to adapt quickly to respond to the fast-paced and changing nature of the pandemic but what it has shown us is that we can put politics aside to tackle the challenges in front of us decisively and in a way that delivers. I look forward to working with my new Green Party colleagues in this new and ambitious way.”

Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights Patrick Harvie said:

We are at a crucial tipping point in terms of our relationship with the planet. I am thrilled at the opportunity to drive forward policies that enhance peoples’ lives while supporting the urgent goal of tackling the climate emergency as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater said:

Any transition to net zero must be just, and my focus will be on delivering policies that support our workforce and wider economy through that change as well as ensuring our greener future is also a prosperous and fair one that benefits our natural environment.”

ENDS

The Scottish Government also publicised the responsibilities of the two new ministerial posts and their placement within the Scottish Cabinet, as follows:

Background
Ministerial Appointments are subject to formal confirmation and acceptance by Parliament and Her Majesty the Queen.

Responsibilities of new Ministers
Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Patrick Harvie.

  • active travel
  • Future Transport Fund
  • energy efficiency
  • heat networks
  • heating and domestic energy transformation
  • building standards
  • new deal for tenants
  • Future Generations Commissioner
  • and serving as a member of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Legislation

Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater.

  • Green Industrial Strategy
  • green skills
  • circular economy
  • Zero Waste Scotland
  • nature recovery targets
  • NatureScot
  • biodiversity
  • national parks and natural heritage
  • plant health
  • and serving as a member of Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Emergency

Ministerial team

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
Minister for Drugs Policy, Angela Constance

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, John Swinney
Minister for Parliamentary Business, George Adam

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes
Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work (who will also work alongside the Net Zero Secretary), Richard Lochhead
Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee
Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, Tom Arthur
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity (who will also work alongside the Net Zero Secretary), Lorna Slater

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf
Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville
Minister for Children and Young People, Clare Haughey
Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson
Minister for Environment and Land Reform (who will also work alongside the Rural Affairs Secretary), Mairi McAllan
Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Keith Brown
Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison
Minister for Equalities and Older People, Christina McKelvie
Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben Macpherson
Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel, & Tenants’ Rights (who will also work alongside the Net Zero Secretary), Patrick Harvie

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon

Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson
Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, Jenny Gilruth

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