The aim of this course is to provide people working in Scottish upland land management the opportunity to see and hear how native woodland has been responding to changes in grazing pressure in the part of Scandinavia most environmentally similar to Scotland. Participants will visit a variety of biodiverse, reforested landscapes from exposed coast to mountain top, where climate and geology are very similar to our own, and where multiple land uses such as forestry, hunting and farming, are often practised together.
It was amazing to explore the regenerating forests in SW Norway and to understand better how native forests can develop with a lower browsing pressure.
Deer management practices differ between Norway and Scotland, with carcass weights used to determine deer quotas in Norway, indicating the overall health of the population and helping to balance its impacts on woodland regeneration.
Cultural and social factors have influenced the woodland regeneration we saw, from the abandonment of farms over the 20th Century to the different attitudes to hunting, foraging and land-use in Norway.
The diversity of species and structure in the Norwegian forest sets an example for us to aspire to in Scotland, and we need to consider how to integrate a rebounding forest within Scotland’s cultural and social setting.
Natural regeneration was abundant nearly everywhere we visited, something which is comparatively unusual in Scotland unless it is enclosed within a deer fence. Regeneration was so prevalent in some locations that it was encroaching into previously open habitats, such as small fields of abandoned farms. A strong hunting culture and associated herbivore management within Finland appears to the main cause for natural regeneration within Finnish forests.
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.
A group report covering a range of perspectives and topics from the NET Latvia course 2019. Although a trip focused on understanding the management of nature conservation in Latvia our hosts made sure we received a healthy dose of cultural history to compliment and broaden our understanding of Latvia and its people.
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 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.
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.
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 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.