Southwest Norway 2016

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ARCH Network/ Erasmus+ Excursion to Southwest Norway August 2016

The aim of the course was to give participants an understanding of land use and land cover in southwestern Norway, with a particular focus on forestry, game management, and conservation.

Shireen Chambers, Richard Cooke, Robert Dewar, Graeme Findlay, Renate Jephcott, Peter Mayhew, Lewis Pate, and Scott Wilson participated. Dr. Duncan Halley of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Trondheim acted as the technical leader of the structured course for the hosts.

Itinerary, objectives and background

The itinerary for the excursion was divided between two Norwegian geographic areas (a) the Flekkefjord and Fidjadelen districts of the coastal Rogaland province and (b) the Bjaen and Berdalen districts of the more interior-montane Agder provinces. These can, respectively, be compared with (a) the coastal West Highlands between Lochaber and Sutherland, at 0-500m asl and (b) the Cairngorms, upper Deeside and Speyside, at 500-1000m asl Within each of these two main areas we visited locations at which woodland and scrub ecological recovery was active, and in which associated factors, such as forestry and game, could be considered.

The objective was to examine land uses in southwest Norway (livestock husbandry, forestry, ecological restoration and game management) and to allow participants to compare what they saw with current practices in Scotland. Recent years have seen increasing interest in potential applicability of alternative Norwegian land use models to Scottish conditions, given the very considerable similarities in basic climatic factors, geology, soils and vegetation composition. Relevance has been heightened by recent trends in Scottish Government rural policy, seeking to reform land tenure in favour of smaller-scale freehold, and estate-scale community, land ownership, and also those seeking to alter the balance between sporting interests on the larger private estates and the potential for expansion of productive forestry and woodland habitats.

Despite ecological similarities to Scotland, there are major differences in the structure and extent of current semi-natural vegetation and in the socio-economic organisation of land use. Vegetational aspects will be dealt with below, but it is also important to recognise that the ownership of rural land in Norway is very different to that in Scotland. Large sporting estates, of the type common in Scotland, had disappeared from Norway by the early 1800’s, with the end of Danish rule. Estate-scale community ownership is not a feature of southwest Norway, although co-operative marketing of farm and forestry products is a notable aspect. Current small-scale farming in Norway is heavily supported by a combination of government grants and effective cross-subsidies from off-farm incomes (particularly from the energy sector).

Forestry overview

We saw several forest management areas and benefited from relevant technical presentations from Eivind Kvinlaug (operational forester, Vestskog) and Ingeborg Anker-Rasch (afforestation lead for Rogaland government). Forestry in southwestern Norway, particularly Rogaland, displays both similarities and differences to Scottish conditions. The palette of trees is familiar, with Sitka and Norway spruces, Scots pine, oak and birch (mainly for woodfuel) being principle productive species. Neither spruce appears regionally native, with Norway spruce introduced historically from eastern Norway. Some ash, beech and sycamore are used for timber, with cherry and apple grown for fruit production. There is localised use of some other introduced conifers including Douglas fir, larches and silver firs, but any wider deployment of novel introduced tree species is now discouraged by state forestry regulators.

Extensive regional forest tracts remain silviculturally immature (thicket or pole stage), having re-established on sheep range since the 1950’s. There is little larger timber, over-harvested for the export trade (including Scotland) during earlier centuries, with land turned to grazing. Some original Scots pine survives in inaccessible uplands, but few stands compare with Caledonian pinewoods. Pine, historically significant, forms a secondary element of modern timber trade, coastal material showing inferior form. As in Scotland, trade is based today on 50-60 year old planted spruce, but dispersed throughout mixed woodlands. Compartments are small, often with difficult extraction, many unthinned. Productivity is high, typically 20-30 m3/ha/annum. Harvesting is predominantly by mechanised patch-clearfelling, with shortwood forwarding, although some steeper terrain dictates motor-manual, cable-crane and sky-line methods. Much timber is exported by sea to Germany, with local mills importing larger dimension structural timbers. Most spruce coupe-fells are replanted – selection silviculture and CCF is atypical, although some pine is regenerated by shelterwood. Birch regeneration is thinned at 20-30 years for firewood, although economics are marginal due to low electricity prices. There is little fine veneer or furniture birch on Finnish/ Swedish lines, but surprisingly good oak is harvested from coastal woodlands for furniture and carpentry. Regenerating pine-birch woodland yields non-timber values, primarily biodiversity, game and livestock shelter.

Norway

Coastal woodland with spruce, Flekkefjord

Productive spruce forestry blocks, Rogaland

Forestry organisation in southwestern Norway contrasts very markedly with Scotland. There are fewer large forestry holdings and ownership is sub-divided between numerous smaller private owners, with commercial harvesting handled by owners’ co-operatives (e.g. Norskog, Vestskog). These achieve economies of scale, sustaining work-flow to selected sub-contractors, with typical harvesting costs of £15/ m3, generating a surplus of £30-40/ m3 before management. This out-turn is more favourable than usually achievable from similar parcels in Scotland (e.g. West Highlands) –

Berdalen

Upland woodland regeneration, Berdalen

Berdalen

Woodland / scrub regeneration, Berdalen

wider adoption of cooperative management and marketing from smaller productive woodlands is therefore an obvious lesson for transfer to Scotland. Nonetheless, policy in southwest Norway is to spatially-aggregate future spruce plantations to aid mobilisation, resulting in greater segregation between coniferous blocks and native broadleaved regeneration. There is also a drive to expand spruce plantations onto suitable sites, contributing to carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. “Classic” self-harvested farm-forestry appears less commonplace than previously reported in Norway.

Grouse and hunting

Hunting is very much part of the rural fabric in Norway – around 2.5% of the population has a hunting licence. In contrast, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust have a combined membership of around 170,000 ie. approx 0.25% of the UK population – a 10 fold difference compared to Norway. Moreover, there is little ‘class distinction’ in Norway between those who do and do not hunt – many who now live in towns come back to their ancestral farms to join the local hunting group. This results in a much more positive approach to hunting with few of the battles seen between hunting and conservationists in the UK.

In Norway there is a compulsory hunting test in an attempt to keep up standards of firearms use, species identification, hunting law and reporting requirements. The hunting system is financed through an annual Hunter’s Fee Card from central government, tag fees for some species and rents paid to the owners of the land. The revenue generated is dedicated to running a centralised game management system. There is little of this sort in Scotland ie. no centralised fees paid (the recent re-imposition of sporting rates will not go into hunting management). There is a compulsory requirement to return deer culls but nothing for other game. However, hunting fees paid to landowners will often be ploughed back into land and predator management.

There are 5 species of grouse in Norway, all hunted. Capercaillie live in the lower pine and spruce forests with c10,000 shot annually. In Scotland only around 1,300 remain (it is highly endangered) with hunting banned about 15 years ago. In Norway, Black grouse occupy the birch woodland above the pine/spruce woods with around 20,000 shot. There are only about 4000 males in Scotland, though the population is broadly stable. Very few are shot in Scotland. Hazel grouse are found in the damper forests with a more deciduous element. They are not found in Scotland. Willow Ptarmigan (Red grouse in Scotland) are birds of the scrubby higher elevations. Approx 140,000 are shot in Norway. In Britain they are a bird of managed heather moor, very important as a commercial game bird with an estimated 500,000 shot annually. Finally Rock Ptarmigan is a bird of the high tops in both countries. Around 80,000 are shot in Norway, far exceeding the small Scottish national bag.

The contrasts above are obvious but interesting. In most cases, the Norwegian population is well above the Scottish population (based on hunting records) principally due to habitat area eg Norway has about 10 times the forest area of Scotland (154,000 vs 14,000 km2). Within that area it also has much more suitable habitat eg birch woodland for black grouse. The outlier in this general comparison is willow ptarmigan/red grouse, where far more are shot in Scotland/Britain than in Norway.

There is little management for grouse in Norway. Some predator management (eg a trap for pine martens) was observed on the trip but little in the way of habitat management. Similarly, in Scotland, there is relatively little general management for three of our grouse species outside of specific conservation projects eg for capercaillie and black grouse (though it should be noted that red grouse management can be beneficial for other grouse species).

The exception to this is red grouse, where a large area of eastern and southern Scotland is managed for this species, both in terms of habitat and predator management. This is commercially very important for parts of rural Scotland but has led to serious conflicts between conservationists and hunters which are not found in Norway. This is principally driven by a cultural difference in approach to hunting, the Norwegian model favouring a more ‘natural’ approach while in Scotland (for red grouse) a more intensive approach predominates.

Large predators

Grazing of domestic livestock and traditional reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) herding hold a strong cultural significance to rural life in Norway with a state funded “compensation” scheme to support livestock managers where evidence of predation occurs.

Of interest were comparisons between the Sea Eagle “management” Scheme in Scotland and the pressures put on livestock in Norway by one of the largest global populations of white-tailed eagles (Haliaetus albicilla) in the world. It is worth noting that the Norway scheme is based around compensation and not positive management, the latter would seem a much more progressive and manageable system.

Estimated population of Norway golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) 800 – 1250 territorial pairs (Punsvik T. 2016) Scotland 450 – 500 territorial pairs (RSPB 2016)

Estimated population of Norway white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) >2000 territorial pairs (Punsvik T. 2016) Scotland 100+ territorial pairs (Grant J. 2016)

Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), wolverine (Gulo gulo), brown bear (Ursus arctos), grey wolf (Canis lupus) and golden eagle are all listed on the scheme which annually compensates for significant livestock losses. Ongoing research continues by NINA on these large carnivores. http://www.adjacentgovernment.co.uk/farming-environment-marine-sustainable-news/carnivore-research-can-shape-wildlife-management-policies/26934/

Ekspertutvalget 2011, confirms “In total there are about 2.3 million summer grazing livestock in Norway (cattle, goats, horses and sheep), of which there are about 2.1 million sheep. Yearly about 40,000-50,000 of these animals, ewes, but mostly lambs, are killed during the summer grazing due to predation. It is estimated that wolverine pressure is the main cause of these issues and I suspect that golden eagles and white-tailed eagles are not given the attention they may deserve due to the much greater attention given to the larger predators.”

It is also worth noting that a further 75,000 animals are attributed to “normal loss” with accidents and disease annually.

Annual compensation figures are high from a country that offers strong financial support for land managers. It could be argued that Norway can afford to support the farming sector and this seems evident from some of the large scale engineering works (tunnels) completed to join remote landholdings with few people in some areas we visited.

The current annual budget for sea-eagle predation in Scotland is approx. £72,000.00 (SNH 2016). http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B869194.pdf While it is unfair to draw direct comparisons between these schemes, it is interesting that it is only the golden eagle that is considered a problem in Norway with current controversial attention given to potential licensed population control. https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/forvaltning-av-kongeorn/id2503900/ And it is only the white-tailed sea eagle that is included in the management scheme in Scotland. Ironically the entire Scottish population began with donor stock from Norway in 1975 and continues to grow with the perception of impact on livestock in specific areas of the NW highlands.

Landscape

The European Landscape Convention recognises landscape as a combination of natural components (geology, landform soils ecology , climate); human influences (land use, land management, settlement); aesthetic qualities (visual and sensory impressions); and cultural values (historical, social and personal associations).

The similarities in the natural components of Rogaland in south west Norway, and the west Highlands of Scotland are immediately obvious. Photographs from a selection of locations visited with comparative locations in the Highlands demonstrate the cross over with geology and geomorphology (and vegetation to a lesser degree).


Flekkefjord

Balblair, Sutherland


Islands on coast at Flekkefjord

Islands on coast at Drumbeg, Assynt

Fidjadal, Rogaland


Glean na Ciche, Glen Affric
Berdasbu, near Bjåen, Sedestal

Cairngorms, with plateau in background

Human and cultural influences are at the heart of the distinct differences between the two regions, most identifiable by the lack of trees and habitation across the Scottish Highlands. The egalitarian society of Norway without an established upper class is fundamental to the dissimilarity in land tenure, ownership pattern, political structure, history, and ultimately landscape character. Appropriately, the Norwegians use the term cultural landscape to describe the area where humans have altered its state.

Despite the depopulation which has caused the reforestation of the rural areas in SW Norway half a century ago, the size of land holdings remains small and Norwegians have retained a foothold in the rural setting with privately owned huts scattered across the landscape. This shift from an open landscape to wooded is not welcomed by all. Public preference studies indicate older generations, who recollect the former, retain a fondness for it whilst younger generations are more accepting of today’s more wooded landscape.

Further landscape change through the recent push to introduce commercial forestry using non native conifer species (including Norway Spruce) is also unpopular. Without a history of estates with tree collections and policy woodlands, these species are new to Rogaland. Acceptance of them may increase over time too.

The land ownership pattern is influencing landscape character in Rogaland where commercial forestry is being promoted. The small size of landholdings in relation to landform limits a foresters ability to design the commercial forest interventions (eg felling coupes) to fit with the underlying landform- a core principle at the heart of forest design in Scotland – creating a fragmented mélange of woodland cover. Regulation constraining coupe sizes, ironically to protect scenic quality, augments the patchwork.

Fragmented parcels

Above: fragmented commercial forest on hillside demonstrating challenges of integrating forestry into a landscape where ownership boundaries split up a hillside into fragmented parcels.

‘Landscape’ designations are broader in Norway than Scotland. The ‘Flekkefjord Landskapsvernområde’ an area of local landscape protection, designated by the municipality, also covers environmental protection. The closest Scotland equivalent is Special Landscape Areas, designated by local authority based entirely on a landscapes’ special qualities.

Above: Information board in car park at entrance to a local landscape protected area at Flekkefjord.

The complexities of land ownership and power being devolved to local communities or municipalities, means bigger protective designations are difficult to establish and enforce. National Parks are therefore located on government land where protective policies are more achievable. Out with these, environmental compromise is par for the course in planning. Each municipality is responsible for planning decisions within their area. Planning should safeguard municipal, regional and national interests and take place in close consultation with central government expert agencies, organisations, business and industry and the population. However, the balance between local economic interests and national environmental interests is contentious, as demonstrated by threats in areas we visited on the migration route of the southern wild reindeer herd. Encroachment by several proposals for large scale commercial cabin developments in ski areas in Sedestal threatens the herd’s long term survival.

Upland habitat mosaics

One of the most striking differences between upland Norway and upland Scotland is the vast areas of montane habitat that extended beyond what would be considered the timber line (the altitudinal or geographic zone to where it is considered that trees would not grow beyond). The group visited one site (walking from Berdalen to Berdalsbu) where the natural succession through an altitudinal range was clearly visible, and functioning woodland and scrub was actively regenerating and expanding in range. From the pine zone, primarily scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and birch (Betula spp.) along with some willow (Salix spp.) and scattered other broadleaves and juniper (Juniperus communis), the natural woodland changed as we went higher into primarily birch dominated woodland with willow and juniper in mosaic with areas of blanket bog and scree. At these higher altitudes, approaching and exceeding 1000m above sea level, the birch was primarily the tortuosa sub-species (Betula tortuosa) which is characterised by its varied and often ‘tortured’ looking stems, with plants rarely growing larger than four or five metres in height (and in reality often lower than this due to winter snowfall and exposure). Above the birch, willow and juniper zone could be found the true alpine zone where scattered bushes of the aforementioned species could be found in mosaic with dwarf shrub species that would be familiar to anyone walking the likes of the Cairngorm plateau (grasses, heather, lichen and vaccinium spp., etc). This helped to create a varied and natural ecotone between montane scrub and alpine shrub habitats and an element of continued regeneration and mortality could be seen at the upper edge of the scrub zone as plants establish and then struggle with the extreme climate or low nutrient level

One thing that was striking was the wide distribution of dwarf birch (Betula nana) from the pine zone up the alpine zone. This is a relatively rare plant in Scotland, primarily due to historic and continued deforestation, burning and overgrazing, although it can be found across a range of site types from upland heath to blanket bog. In upland Norway it was a relatively regular sight, from large patches on blanket bog within the pine zone to deep and extensive patches of it within a matrix of dwarf alpine shrubs above the scrub zone. Some similar areas can be found in Scotland, but the key issue of grazing pressure, as encountered across the whole trip, is one major point that needs to be addressed when discussing how similar habitats could recover and expand in the Highlands.

Throughout all of the montane habitats that we visited there were intimate and, at times, extensive areas of what could best be described as forest bog and blanket bog, including habitat types similar in structure to ladder fen and quaking bog. It certainly seemed that these areas were fully functioning bogs that had not had significant natural regeneration of woodland or scrub beyond seedling or sapling level, issues that can occur when bogs dry or are modified. Loss of priority open habitats and the carbon balance are two key issues in Scotland when considering woodland and scrub expansion, so it was encouraging to see this range of habitats in mosaic across the landscape in upland Norway.

1 Pine, birch, willow and juniper growing in mosaic with blanket bog

Juniper willow and birch growing on drier knolls

Whilst the similarities in climate, geology and habitat composition between upland areas in south west Norway and the Highlands of Scotland are clearly defined within the data already gathered by our host Duncan Halley, there are some subtleties that strongly impact on montane habitats that would be worth further investigation. The accumulated snowfall and particularly how long that snow persists in the uplands is one area that would be worth further comparison. For much of the year in Norway there are snow banks and bowls that protect montane willows from browsing, and prolonged periods of snow would likely have an impact on the distribution and survival rates of ungulates. In warm winters snow coverage in Scotland’s uplands can be patchy and can come and go due to the oceanic climate and performance of the Gulf Stream, opening similar habitats up to what could potentially be high levels of impact across the winter months. Similarly the distribution of rainfall events across the year could have a significant impact on the expansion of scrub onto deep peat, which could be a concern in terms of both climate change and management of priority open habitats. These two questions would be worth further study to inform discussions about how we want to shape the future of upland Scotland. The over-riding issue of browsing pressure also needs to be addressed, as expansion and restoration of these types of habitats would be near impossible without fencing in the presence of high ungulate number and sheep grazing. Visiting these upland areas of Norway was incredibly inspiring, and the scale of the montane woodland and scrub was at times difficult to comprehend when coming from a Scottish context. It does however show us what we could have if the will and resources are there to restore habitats largely lost from the Scottish landscape.

Deer management, grazing and regenerating woodlands

The underlying premise for the trip was to see what lessons Scotland could learn from Norway in terms of landscape and factors affecting it. This raises the question – Why can we not just be content to value rural Scotland for its individuality and why should it be a negative that we have less woodland, more deer, larger properties, than other countries? A diversity of landscapes has much to be said for it. After all, forest cover in Scotland has increased by a factor of three over the last century, albeit most of it planted. Vive la difference!

However, having now seen the astonishing woodland regeneration and abundant underlying flora which characterises the parts of Southern Norway which we visited, from sea level to 1000 metres, it would be perverse not to want some more of that for Scotland. The similarities between South West Norway and Northern Scotland, and between Setesdal and the Cairngorms, are many, climatological, geological, landscape, and to a lesser extent cultural, and the argument that similar change is possible in parts of Scotland is compelling.

We saw before-and-after photographs showing the areas we visited as being bare of vegetation up to the mid twentieth century, as much of the Highlands are now. The remarkable change, coincidental rather than planned was due to agricultural abandonment of large areas as small scale farming became unviable. With limited numbers of wild herbivores present at that time the land was in effect rested and left to itself for several decades. As a result tree regeneration and all the accompanying botanical changes were able to happen without significant grazing pressure and without protection. The result is extensive and diverse young woodlands which are now beyond damage from grazing, browsing and trampling and which can now accommodate domestic livestock in summer and a still relatively small number of wild ungulates, moose, red deer and roe deer, as well as reindeer above the tree line; also mammalian predators such as lynx and pine marten which can be managed by hunting, (as indeed can beavers, of which we saw much evidence, to refer to a particularly difficult current Scottish conundrum).

As to the cultural effect, it is clear that Norwegian society as a whole retains a closer connection with the land than is now the case in Scotland and has a proportionately larger rural population. Of interest is that all children of school age are required to spend school time, about a week annually, in the outdoors. Hunting is an intrinsic part of Norwegian culture and wildlife is valued and managed accordingly. In addition many Norwegians own or use the cabins which we saw throughout the countryside. Indeed one of the most controversial topics appears to be conflict between cabin developers and those determined to protect reindeer migration routes.

So, in view of what we saw, what can we learn from the Norwegian experience? First of all, it is not an “either/or”; we can value our differences as well as learning from our neighbours.

Secondly, the direction of travel in Scotland is already in the Norwegian direction. An increasing number of landholdings, private, public, community and NGO, are managed primarily for habitat change, although not necessarily to the exclusion of hunting. Indeed many private estates already have a significant and increasing component of land, surrounding but not impinging on their commercial operations, which is allowed to “grow wild”. The deer management planning process developed over the last two years also encourages neighbouring landholdings to think collectively about habitat improvement.

Thirdly, grazing or lack of it is a key catalyst in habitat change. Sheep numbers are in decline across much of the Highlands although the opposite is the case where sheep are being used, mainly summer only, to control ticks, which pose an increasing risk to both human and animal health. Open range red deer numbers are also declining steadily as a result of increased culling. In the Grampians, the reduction over 25 years is fifty per cent.

We now need to think more about overall grazing impacts rather than focusing on deer, sheep, feral goats, rabbits, or hares in isolation. Deer management plans in their emerging new format can provide this overview. In some cases fencing will continue to be necessary to allow potentially conflicting land uses to coexist in the shorter term. We also need to be cautious in assuming that no grazing would automatically lead to a Norwegian habitat response across Scotland. Although there are many similarities, there may also be differences, for example, lack of ready seed sources or more extensive unsuitable seedbeds, eg deep peat. Some regeneration schemes in Scotland have failed, even where fencing has been used.

And finally, country sports enthusiasts come to Scotland from all over the world and value our open landscapes, blooming moorland in late summer, and mountains, with deer in numbers, in autumn and winter. This is a valuable hunting tourism niche which Scotland offers in unique form. Deer stalking in its present form, with populations managed to provide it in a sustainable way, can continue, without precluding the expansion of regenerating woodland and the distinctive hunting more characteristic of Norway and other European countries.

By a process of evolution rather than revolution, land managers in Scotland, whatever their primary objectives, can individually and collectively identify areas where they can “make more room for Nature”. We can think of land that is not in specific economic land use not necessarily as being waste land or “scrub” (an unhelpful and derogatory term). In doing so it should be possible to maintain economic activity which supports employment in rural communities and contributes to the Scottish Government Land Use Strategy and therefore merits financial support on public interest grounds. A growing proportion of land can be left to “rewild” sometimes without significant capital expense. However there should not be an assumption that, for example, areas of heather moorland which might be colonised by trees should cease to be managed for grouse with the economic and biodiversity benefits which that contributes. For such radical changes the opportunity cost would need to be carefully assessed.

In effect, land uses can be more carefully zoned and fine tuned to maintain existing economic activity while encouraging a progressive process of environmental change, without necessitating the stock and human clearances that would be required to create a grazing “holiday” such as has allowed the wholesale regeneration of woodland to occur in Norway.

Norwegian and Scottish research opportunities

Comparisons are often made between Scotland and Norway; understandably given the geographical proximity and historical and cultural connections. ‘Nordic Horizons’ is an informal organisation of professionals that exemplifies an affinity with Norway and the desire to learn from Norwegian life. Norway supports three times the rural population of Scotland, which makes for an interesting comparison as to why and how this is maintainable. A heavily subsidised support system is part of the reason, but the wider benefits of slowing urban migration are fundamental.

There is some thinking that by adopting aspects of the Norwegian culture there is an opportunity to improve life for people in Scotland. One such example is the ‘hut culture’ – so widespread in Norway and largely absent in Scotland. Direct benefits to society in the way of mental ‘well being’ have been partly discussed in a PhD study. The Norwegian philosophy behind ‘early learning’ and the emphasis on ‘development’ over ‘assessment’ is a clear difference to the education system in Britain. There is also an ethos of developing a strong connection with the outdoors and nature through environmental education – maintained throughout schooling. Comparative research of cultural learning may draw out social benefits to be gained by adopting aspects of Norwegian culture.

The Scottish political and social system is more akin to other countries in the UK, but where direct comparisons can be made is in the shared geology. Duncan Halley has drawn our attention to this with close comparative models for geology and climate. There is ongoing debate in Scotland about the process of habitat change and the influence of ‘natural,’ edaphic and climatic factors, as opposed to human influence. Similarities to Norway provide the opportunity, given the use of geographical modelling, to provide more scientific rigour when debating this issue.

The decision about beavers in Scotland is still unclear, and Norway understands the effects of beaver activity on water courses. A Scottish water catchment study will provide an overall picture of the benefits for habitat, flood control, and also areas of conflict with other land use, and Norway can inform how this may be managed.

There are a number of botanical species that are rare or very localised in Scotland but common in Norway, including herbaceous plants such as Alpine sow thistle, and a range of montane scrub. Comparative studies using climatic modelling, snow cover, and grazing indices would be enlightening. Aspen is uncommon in Scotland and appears to rarely seed. Norway offers the opportunity to study these phenomena by initially assessing if Norwegian aspen produces seed more readily in a Scottish climate. Norway has had longer to observe the effects of abandoned intensive land use – offering a ecological ‘window into the future’ and perhaps dispel some restricted thinking that sits within the current paradigm.

A synergy between policy makers, land managers, and academia could inform ecosystem management and land use strategy. Identifying key research questions and providing an academic conduit, perhaps financed through a dedicated fund – such as oil revenue, is an opportunity for both countries.

Contributors:

Shireen Chambers (Institute of Chartered Foresters)

Richard Cooke (Invermark Estate, Chair Association of Deer Management Groups)

Robert Dewar (National Trust for Scotland)

Graeme Findlay (Forest Enterprise Scotland)

Renate Jephcott (Forest Enterprise Scotland)

Peter Mayhew (Royal Society for Protection of Birds)

Lewis Pate (Nevis Landscape Partnership)

Scott McG. Wilson (Author, Chartered Forester & Surveyor).

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