Land management continues to be highly sectorial in Scotland, with different sectors (arable farming, conservation, game management) working in isolation, competing for limited natural resources. This has led to significant land use and human wildlife conflicts, resulting in a culture of distrust among the different stakeholders. In contrast, Norwegian land management is based on a more integrated system, with a greater culture of land stewardship, trust and shared values amongst its stakeholders.
In this context, I was particularly interested during my recent visit to Hogskolen I Hedmark, Norway and the associated structured course, to explore how hunting systems and natural wildlife resources were administrated in that country to inform my understanding as to how systems might be improved in the future in Scotland.
The objective was to develop our understanding of conservation issues and exchange ideas through meeting experts and seeing practical examples of research and wildlife management in Norway. We also all had our own personal development objectives that we wanted to achieve.
Our host for the week was Marius Kjonsberg, lecturer for the Applied Ecology and Agricultural Science Facility at the University of Hedmark. We were based mainly at the Evenstad campus, located in the south east of Norway. Marius was a fantastic host and managed to co-ordinate a great variety of topics and arranged for pertinent site visits and talks. We learnt a great deal that we hope to apply to the management of our own natural resources.
The area of Norway we visited has a number of large herbivores present in its woodlands. These include Moose, red and roe deer, with Reindeer found further north. Looking at the sites we visited their impact on the regeneration of the forests seems to be minimal, despite the fact that pinus spp. are generally prone to browsing damage. In contrast to scotland where these herbivores are generally treated as a pest in forestry terms, in Norway they are treated as a valuable forest resource, giving an valuable annual income from the sale of shooting rights and meat/skins. (up to £2800/moose for meat alone). The only area where we saw a substantial impact on forestry was in areas where the moose were fed in the winter. Winter feeding is carried out to draw the animals away from the valleys and roads in winter, and this increase in densty in the feeding areas has had a major impact on the regeneration of trees.
Nature Exchange 2011 – Large Mammals in Norway – Final Report View this report as PDF. The visit was hosted by Hedmark University College at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management. Hedmark County in south-east Norway. A joint report by, Colin Bean, Craig Borthwick, Grant Carson, Donald McCuaig, Graham Neville, David Sutherland and […]