Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland
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Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland

The government use revenue from hunting licences to compensate landowners on any damage to productive tree crops by deer browsing – if this is indeed correct it is a very different system to what we have in Scotland.
Despite the presence of bears and wolves we learned that hunting is essential to managing a sustainable deer population, which was contrary to my perception at the start of the trip. Tapio said there are around 300 wolves in Finland, but 10,000 would be needed to meet equilibrium. It would not be possible for the number of wolves to coexist with the current human population of Finland – so hunting of deer by humans will always be required.
We also learned that in the Lapland area accounting for 36% of the country no bears, wolves or lynx were tolerated and were shot on sight to protect the reindeer. Unlike Scotland there are no ‘professional’ hunters, as hunting is too popular of an activity. However, Tapio foresees such jobs might exist in the future as the country continues to urbanise and less people live in rural areas.

Deer, Moose & Forestry in Latvia
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Deer, Moose & Forestry in Latvia

In Latvia deer management is administered centrally by the State Forest Service and there is a national register of hunters who require a license to hunt. However management is devolved to the 2074 hunting districts with cull targets and objective agreed locally. This and the requirement of a minimum land area over which to hunt different species means that there is a more collaborative approach to hunting in Latvia. Cull reporting is more rigorous than in Scotland and hunters are required to record where, when and how many deer they harvest.

Hunting Game in Norway: A Way of Life & a Method of Management
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Hunting Game in Norway: A Way of Life & a Method of Management

Hunting in Norway is deeply engrained in the country’s history and its culture. This makes replicating its use as a conservation tool difficult for countries, such as Scotland, where hunting is regarded as merely a rich man’s sport. Nevertheless, there is much that Scotland can learn from Norway’s attitude to hunting.

Gamebird hunting and raptors in Norway
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Gamebird hunting and raptors in Norway

By participating in the survey and reporting bag numbers the hunters themselves are key figures in game management. Due to the vastly different cultural heritage of hunting in Norway, where hunting is much more a way of life than an elite hobby, divides between shooting and conservation communities simply do not exist as they do in the UK. However it is inspiring to see what can be achieved when all parties recognise the requirement for robust and contemporary population data and work together to ensure gamebird hunting is carried out at a sustainable level each year.

Forestry in Norway
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Forestry in Norway

The important role of the mountain forests for ground’s stability has been observed at Dovre National Park. Betula pendula, B. pubescenis, B. nana, Juniperus communis, and Salex spp cover waist area overhead 1000 m above the sea level between stands of coniferous and alpine zone. Roots system holds poor, stony and wet soil and well protects against landslides. The woodland habitat creates much better biodiversity than post-grazing grassland. That is a good example for land management of similar areas in Scotland.

EVO hiking centre and Riistakeskus
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EVO hiking centre and Riistakeskus

EVO is a hiking centre and forestry college in Kanta-Häme. As well as teaching forestry skills from an economic, recreational and conservational point of view, EVO offers opportunities for members of the public to engage with nature. For example, the public can pay to spend time with animals- there are numerous cows that the public can see and tend, while there is also a meat and grain store.

Approaches to Integrated Land Management – Norway 2017
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Approaches to Integrated Land Management – Norway 2017

While the vast majority of the land is under some form of management and is modified nature conservation and natural heritage interests appeared to be in a relatively healthy state. During the visit we were largely engaged with consideration of wildlife management for economic purposes (even in relation to protected species including large carnivores), we were able to consider wider ecosystem health and the role that played in maintaining healthy populations of different wildlife species

Ulv Ledelse i Norge (Wolf Management in Norway) – 2017
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Ulv Ledelse i Norge (Wolf Management in Norway) – 2017

I work for Scottish Natural Heritage and prior to this worked for the Deer Commission for Scotland. Wildlife management in Scotland is an important issue; culturally, economically, socially and increasingly politically. Learning about and seeing first-hand how Norway manages wildlife; the challenges, opportunities and some of the solutions they have found was a valuable experience for me that will influence both my professional and personal life.

Navigating the means for a better end
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Navigating the means for a better end

With its independence, Latvia is negotiating and exploring the boundaries and crossovers between capitalism, neoliberalism, socialism, civic participation all beneath the umbrella of climate change threats and the remnants of its Soviet past. What we would deem as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ have completely different connotations and consequences in Latvia. Cooperative farming, a triumphant alternative example to intensive commercial commodity focused farming in Scotland is only just now coming back…

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