PUBLIC BENEFIT (Public Interest)
Scottish Government base decisions on what it considers to deliver public benefit. Politicians identify public benefit with reference to policies they believe they have been mandated to implement.

Three policies considered of high importance concern reduction in carbon emissions and movement towards a low carbon economy, and protection of sites designated under national and international legislation:

Woodland Expansion
Protection of Designated Sites
Peatland Restoration.

These policies present significant challenges to deer managers generally, but specifically within CSDMG. Results have shown that CSDMG members are delivering to Scottish Government expectations for public benefit by managing deer densities at appropriate levels.

WOODLAND EXPANSION 

Scottish Government’s strategy towards achieving emission reductions and a low carbon economy includes the establishment of 10,000ha of new woodland per year over 2012-2022. One third of Scotland’s land has the most potential for woodland creation; 2.69 million hectares (representing 34% of Scotland); 19% of the 2.69m hectares is upland red deer range.   



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DESIGNATED SITES
The Cairngorms Special Area for Conservation (SAC) was designated in 2005 and covers 57,685ha, including a large part of CSDMG range. It includes 7 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is designated for a range of features, including 16 upland features. There are 2 National Nature Reserves within the site.

The SAC is divided into eleven management units and managed for a variety of purposes including: sporting (deer stalking and grouse shooting) and nature conservation. Stock grazing takes place, but on a localised level.

The site is popular with tourists for hillwalking, winter climbing and skiing.

A Herbivore Impact Assessment (HIA) was carried out by SNH in 2009, covering both grazing and trampling. The assessment covered four designated habitat features: blanket bog, species-rich Nardus grassland, dry grassland on calcareous substrates and flushes.
The survey found that current impacts for much of the SAC were Low or Low to Moderate, with impact trends often Chronic low or Decreasing, apart from a few localised areas. Trampling impacts were higher than grazing, especially on blanket bog. Blanket bog recovery was likely to be slow due to severe climatic conditions, and will be a long-term process taking decades even if deer numbers were further reduced.
(Source: SNH Contract No. 24363 24948, January 2009).


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PEATLAND RESTORATION

The Scottish Government has recently funded (2014/15) a major programme of peatland restoration (Peatland Action). Scotland is one of the richest countries in Europe for peat, and has around 2million hectares of it.

Managing Carbon.
We now know that peatlands are our largest natural carbon stock and that we can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by managing the land to maintain existing peat deposits, and the extent and health of peat-forming habitats.

Peatlands provide many benefits:
  • Nature – a unique grouping of birds and plants, not found together anywhere else in the world, with some birds nesting at the highest densities yet recorded;
  • Water supply – much of our drinking water comes from peatland areas and many of our important salmon rivers depend on peaty catchments. Maintaining peatlands in good condition, or restoring them, makes for cleaner water and lower costs to society;
  • Flood management – intact peat bogs store water and help to maintain steady flow rates on salmon rivers. Natural and restored peatlands provide reduced downstream flood risks compared to damaged peatlands
  • Historic environment – the best preserved remains of past peoples have been recovered from, and are preserved in peatlands;
  • International image – peatlands provide the backdrop for Scotland’s iconic wild countryside valued by the film and tourism industries and a key part of the brand for much of our food and drink (whisky);
  • Fuel – some domestic peat banks cut for fuel are decades old, and are managed to minimize erosion. Peat stacks are a familiar, if declining, sight in parts of the far north and west, and the reek of peat smoke is distinctively appealing to residents and visitors;
  • Sheep grazing – many peatland areas produce store lambs which are sold on for fattening in the lowlands;
  • Sporting management –sustaining much of our deer stalking, grouse shooting and fishing enterprises.







Map showing possibilities for peatland restoration across CSDMG range and wider Cairngorms National Park: