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Publication - Report

2010 Review of Goose Management Policy in Scotland

2010 Review of Goose Management Policy in Scotland.

304 page PDF

2.3 MB

304 page PDF

2.3 MB

Contents
2010 Review of Goose Management Policy in Scotland
16 Appendix G: Local Goose Management Schemes

304 page PDF

2.3 MB

16 Appendix G: Local Goose Management Schemes

Appendices G and H contain a brief account of each of the seven local schemes (Appendix G) and other goose-related schemes in Scotland ( Appendix H). Appendix H also summaries goose-related developments in three areas - Orkney, Caithness and Lochaber, which the steering group asked the project review team to investigate to exemplify emerging issues with geese across Scotland.

Information was obtained from the Local Goose Management Scheme annual reports to NGMRG, from interviews with local goose groups, public meetings and from interviews with local farmers, crofters and relevant organizations. All local goose groups were offered the opportunity to make written representation to the review group and three availed themselves of this.

Table G1 shows the nature of the 59 local interviews and meetings held as part of the project.

Table G1: Interviews and meetings held as part of the review process

Area

LGMG

SNH + SGRPID

Farmers, crofters & estates

Other local stakeholders

Total

Islay

1

1

5

3

10

Solway

1

1

4

6

Kintyre

1

2

4

1

8

South Walls

1

1

1

1

4

Strathbeg

1

1

3

1

6

Tiree and Coll

1

1

4

6

Uist

1

1

2

1

5

Orkney

1

1

1

2

5

Caithness

3

2

5

Lochaber

1

2

1

4

Total

59

Basic statistics were obtained from Local Goose Management Group annual reports and secretaries ( SNH local area staff). Spreadsheet data on counts, zonation and payments were also provided by the group secretaries where these were available. These did not always provide a link between fields, field sizes, zonation, historic counts and payments, which made analysis of the schemes difficult in some cases. Local groups were asked to provide information for the years 2008/09 and 2009/10, but the 2009/10 data were not always available. We have therefore used whatever data the groups were able to provide. This does not present a problem, since in all cases the budgets and operation of the schemes were the same in the two years.

The annual reports from local schemes record goose numbers 'supported' by those schemes in a variety of ways. The numbers of geese (or goose days) used in our cost analysis of payment schemes are only those recorded on fields receiving payments under a scheme. On Islay, this includes geese on scaring areas since these receive (nominal) payments 58 . Elsewhere, geese recorded on scaring areas are excluded since no payments are made on these areas. This avoids the situation in which local groups could apparently reduce the costs per goose by simply having large scaring areas that increase the number of geese apparently 'supported' by the scheme, when it is far from clear what support is being provided.

16.1 Islay Local Goose Management Scheme

16.1.1 Scheme and objectives

The current scheme has been in operation since 2005 and followed an earlier scheme set up in 2000/01. The scheme operates within the NGMRG objectives but has translated them into local objectives as follows:

  • To provide fair payments to minimise economic loss for all farmers and crofters on Islay who are affected by the impact of protected geese.
  • To provide a management framework which will seek to control the impact of geese on the grazing on Islay.
  • To ensure that favourable conservation status is maintained for the geese under the management measures provided in the scheme.
  • To carry out regular reviews of payments and payment rates in the light of current agricultural circumstances to ensure that land managers are not being over or under-compensated and that value for money is being delivered.

16.1.2 Goose species and site designations

The main thrust of the scheme is to ensure favourable status for the Greenland Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted geese. The LGMG has reported concerns about the growing number of resident Greylag Geese within the scheme area and the resultant pressure they are putting on crops prior to arrival of the migratory geese and during the winter season. It has also been suggested that these resident Greylags might begin to impact negatively on the Greenland Barnacle and White-front populations, because the resident nature of their population may given them a competitive advantage in competition for food resources.

There are five SPAs on Islay with either Greenland Barnacle or White-fronted Geese or both as named features (Table G2), which collectively cover an area of 14,805 ha ( JNCC, 2010a).

Table G2: SPAs on Islay ( JNCC, 2010a) with named goose species

SPA

Area (ha)

Greenland White-fronted Goose

Greenland Barnacle Goose

Gruinart Flats

3261.32

Yes

Yes

Rinns of Islay

9407.46

Yes

No

Laggan, Islay

1230.02

Yes

Yes

Eilean na Muice Duibhe (Duich Moss)

576.42

Yes

No

Bridgend Flats

331.16

No

Yes

16.1.3 Monitoring and population estimates

There are two types of counts of wintering Greenland Barnacle and White-fronted Geese carried out on Islay: the international counts and the scheme counts. There are six set routes across the island and the start and end points are varied for each count in order to reduce systematic bias according to time of day. Counts are carried out using a combination of SNH and contract staff. Additional information on breeding success is also collected for Greenland White-fronted and Greenland Barnacle Goose.

For the international counts, the whole island is surveyed fully on each of two consecutive days to produce what are termed as paired counts for the months of November, December, January and March (with particular focus on December and March). These counts are carried out as part of the International census of Greenland White-fronted Geese (as co-ordinated by the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study) but numbers of Greenland Barnacle Geese are also recorded on Islay. An average of the paired counts is then taken, which is termed the adopted count, unless one is deemed to be problematic (e.g. due to poor visibility or birds being highly disturbed). Seasonal averages of the adopted counts and all the counts carried out in the winter period are then calculated in order to provide an annual population estimate. GSAG include these seasonal average data in the annual report on all local schemes to NGMRG. Since 2005 however, based on recommendations by Mudge et al. 2004, the count data have been presented as a winter peak count in the annual reports to NGMRG (see Figure G1).

For the scheme counts, the island is surveyed once over a period of two days and information is recorded by field. Unlike the international counts (that are designed to derive overall population estimates), during scheme counts it is permissible to double count geese if they happen to move during the survey (because the objective of scheme counts is to provide the basis for payments to farmers by monitoring the numbers of geese using individual fields during the winter). This means that count totals derived from the scheme counts, which are reported as peak counts in the annual reports, may be higher than those reported for the population estimate from the international counts. Scheme counts are carried out from October to April at an interval of 3-4 times per month. Data are available from 2000/2001 onwards. The results of the schemes counts are used solely for the calculation of payments to farmers based on the goose densities per ha (based on a 3-year average). As the international counts cover the same areas as the scheme counts, the former are used to derive estimates of the population supported by the scheme.

In addition to the goose counts, information on goose droppings is collected at less than five farms on Islay, where night feeding is thought to be an issue or where significant roosts are missed by the day counts. Once a month between October and April, the number of droppings in 5 m 2 areas is counted for 4-8 samples per field (depending on size of the field). These data are used to assess whether the main scheme counts are missing flocks of geese which may be causing crop damage.

Figure G1. Changes in the population of Greenland Barnacle goose (diamonds) and Greenland White-fronted goose (square) on Islay based on the seasonal average of the adopted counts (solid shapes) and the winter peak counts (hollow shapes) taken from SNH/ GSAG and the LGMS database respectively.

Figure G1.

The population of Barnacle Geese on Islay was estimated as 37,545 or 37,329 in the winter of 2009/2010 (based on seasonal averages of international adopted counts or for all international counts respectively). This represents the third consecutive year in which the population has declined. Based on figures derived on the last full survey in 2008, as co-ordinated by WWT, Islay held 64% of the global population of Greenland Barnacle Geese, although this may have changed since given the more recent declines observed on the island (Mitchell et al. 2008).

The Islay population of Greenland White-fronted Geese was estimated as 6,005 or 5,815 birds in the winter of 2009/2010 (based on seasonal averages of international adopted counts or for all counts respectively). In the short term, this is broadly comparable to the figures obtained for the last three years but the numbers have declined overall since the start of the LGMS. Recently Islay was estimated to hold 51% and 27% of the Scottish and global population of Greenland White-fronted Goose respectively (based on 2009 figures in Fox et al. 2009). Islay used to be much more important however. In 1999, when the Islay population was at its peak count, it held 61% and 37% of the Scottish and global population respectively (Fox et al. 2009). The declines in numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese have not been flagged up as a priority issue within the LGMS annual reports, despite the high conservation status of this species (Section 2.5.3).

The numbers of resident Greylag Geese on Islay are not formally collected by SNH, although SNH do provide staff time to assist a local bird recorder who has carried out counts during the post moult period over recent years. In 2009 the number of Greylag Geese was estimated at 1,800 individuals, but this figure is thought to include breeding birds from neighbouring islands.

16.1.4 Zones and payment rates

Geese are present on almost all the improved land on Islay and payments were made on a combined total of 45,724 Greenland White-fronted and Barnacle Geese in 2009/10. The allocation of land into zones is determined by goose density and goose numbers per farm as indicated in Table G3. No distinction is made between Greenland White-fronted and Barnacle Geese within the scheme.

Table G3: Zones used on Islay

Goose density and number of geese per farm

Zone allocated

Scaring Allowed?

Buffer zone

>2/ha or >100 geese

Feeding zone

On reseeds only, also SNH assistance on first year reseeds. No audible scaring within 50 m of the feeding area boundary. Eligible for payments for scaring.

Option to include up to 20% of improved or permanent grass as buffer zone receiving buffer area payments

1.5-2.0/ha and <100 geese

Buffer zone

Yes, also SNH assistance on first year reseeds

1-1.5/ha

Scaring zone

Yes, also SNH assistance on first year reseeds

<1/ha

Scaring zone

Yes

Payment rates for the three zones (Table G4) differentiate between the areas and between rotational grass and permanent pasture. There is no payment for unimproved land, and the rates apply to a density of _15 geese per ha, with proportionally lower payments at lower densities. The consequence of this scaling back at lower densities is that payments are effectively determined by goose density (see below).

Farmers that do not qualify for the feeding or buffer areas can apply for a single payment of £100 per year. There is also a payment for farmers who enter a farmer scaring programme.

Table G4: Payment rates 2009/10 (actually paid after any capping by NGMRG)

Feeding zone area ( FZ)
(£ per ha)

Buffer zone area ( BZ)
(75% of FZ)
(£ per ha)

Scaring area
Single payment
(£)

Scaring on buffer area
(£ per ha)

Land type

Rotational grass/arable

364.12

272.52

100.00

19.00

Permanent pasture

234.10

177.69

100.00

19.00

These payment rates are based on a complex calculation (Islay LGMG, 2009) that aims to identify the additional costs and income foregone from the presence of 15 geese per ha as compared with a no geese counterfactual (Table G4). The calculation relates to a moderately intensive situation with suckler cows, winter hoggs and silage, and accounts for additional costs and income foregone due to grazing by geese. The calculation produces a total cost of £405.44 per ha for rotational grass/arable ground, which was revised down to £364.12 after negotiation with the NGMRG in the 2008/09 year when revised bids were presented. For permanent grass the corresponding per ha figure was £263.98, negotiated down to £234.10.

Table G5: Items in the payment calculation on Islay

Type of effect on farm income

Item

Additional costs (rotational grass/arable only)

Reseeding every 5 years instead of 8

Additional fertiliser in spring and autumn to promote grass growth for geese

Income foregone through loss of agricultural production

Grazing loss from cattle and sheep including lower sale weight of cattle

Silage loss

Aftermath loss

16.1.5 Management agreement obligations

The management agreement used on Islay places few obligations on farmers, the principal ones being:

  • Reseed frequency: rotational grass must be <8 years old.
  • Limits on scaring/disturbance (see Table G3)
  • Submission of a detailed scaring plan if applying for scaring payments.

Despite the fact that the payment structure (Table G4) includes payments for additional fertiliser and reseeding every 5 years, it is noticeable that, within the contracts, farmers are under no obligation to apply fertiliser or to reseed more frequently than on a 7 year cycle. There is in fact no connection between the elements on which the payment structure is based and the contractual obligations of those receiving payments. This may be considered strange but the payment calculation relates to a high goose density (_15 per ha) and it is not clear how the implied obligations in the payment calculation can be translated into obligations for lower density holdings. This may be considered an undesirable side effect of the proportional system of payments.

16.1.6 Shooting

No out of season licences are issued for shooting Greenland White-fronted Geese. Farmers may obtain licences to shoot Barnacle Geese however, in order to protect crops under a derogation from the Birds Directive and bag limits have been set based on PVA analyses (Pettifor et al. 1999). SNH employs marksmen who undertake most of this shooting. According to SG statistics, 35 licences were issued for Barnacle Geese in 2009 with a bag limit of 1,063 but a smaller number of 656 were actually shot. With a marksmen cost of £24,715 (2008/09), the cost per goose shot was estimated at £37.60.

The LGMG considers that further work is required to "establish the impacts of the resident Greylag population and would like to see changes in licensing measures to control the expansion of this population" (e.g. earlier starts to the open season).

Lethal and non lethal shooting of Greenland Barnacle Geese is permitted in the presence of Greenland White-fronted Geese but the effects of this upon the latter are unknown.

16.1.7 Uptake and payments to farmers

Of the farms or crofts with geese present in 2009/10, 95% entered the scheme (Table G6). Those not entering were mainly crofts with few geese and the effective uptake of holdings affected by geese is virtually 100%.

Table G6: Numbers of farms/crofts entering the Islay scheme and receiving payments

Year

Number of farms eligible to apply for scheme

Number of eligible farms with geese present

Number applied to enter scheme

Number accepted

Number receiving management payments

2009/10

125

114

108

108

108

The majority of land in the scheme (92%) is in the feeding zone and this absorbs 97% of the payments to farmers. The mean feeding zone cost was £145.6 per ha (Table G7). Only relatively small areas were entered as buffer area (mean payment, £62.00 per ha) and only 19 farmers received scaring payments. The buffer zone and scaring payments are therefore a very minor part of the total cost. Of the land in the scheme, 52% is in rotational grass and 48% in permanent pasture.

Table G7: Total areas and payments under the Islay LGMS in 2009/10

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

Total area on which payments made (ha)

6039.5

407.0

156.0

Total payment made

£879,667.0

£25,226.4

£2,918.9

Total expenditure in 2009/10 was just under £1m, 91% of which consisted of payments to farmers (Table G8). There are sizeable costs associated with SNH involvement in the scheme, through the goose officer, and for goose counting and scaring, including lethal scaring. Agents are employed to assist farmers to scare, principally on first year reseeds. Scaring equipment is also provided and erected.

The average cost per goose in farmer payments is £907,812 /45,724 =£19.86 per goose. Including the SNH and administration costs raises this to £21.80 per goose.

Table G8: Expenditure related to the Islay scheme (£ per year)

2009/10
(£ forecast)

Management payments

£907,812.50

Other expenditure specific to scheme (goose officers, monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

£82,587.70

Administration of scheme ( SNH & SGRPID)

£6,413.00

TOTAL

£996,813.20

16.1.8 Compliance monitoring

There are few obligations with which to comply (see above). Reseed frequency is understood to be monitored but generally compliance monitoring is not formalised and farmers are not required to indicate that they have complied with their obligations under the scheme. Counters and neighbours provide some feedback should they observe non-compliance on scaring. There is no evidence of external audit or sanctions being applied.

16.1.9 Analysis of payments

Statistics on goose densities, counts and payments were derived from the LGMG database (Table G9). The median goose density per ha is 4.67, the median goose count 169 per farm, and the median payment £3,141. The distribution of geese per farm is heavily skewed, with a few farms having high counts and payments. Three farms receive 22% of the total payments reflecting their high recorded counts.

Table G9: Goose density, counts and payments on Islay (2009/10)

Mean

Range

Median

Geese density on rotational and permanent grass (per ha)

5.85

0.0 - 27.54

4.67

Goose count per farm

423.4

0 - 3,779

169.00

Payment per farm (£)

8,419

0 - 84,300

3,140

Note: 3 farms were included in the Islay database but for a variety of reasons did not receive payments in 2009/10. This explains the zeros in the range column.

Although payments are derived from a per ha payment (following the 2000 national policy framework recommendations; Scottish Executive 2000) the density adjustment means that, in reality, payments are very closely linked to goose numbers, irrespective of the distinction between buffer and feeding zones or between rotational and permanent grass. Figure G2 shows the relationship between counts and payments, with three farms accounting for 9,548 geese (21% of the total population).

Figure G2: Goose counts and total payments per farm on Islay

Figure G2

In order to identify the marginal cost of a change in goose numbers within the payment system, a linear regression was fitted to the Figure G2 data. The regression with zero intercept is:

tp=20.457(+- 0.20)g (n=108) (p<001)
where:
tp = total payments (£ per farm); g=goose count per farm.

This indicates that payments increase on average at the rate of £20.40 per goose as counts increase. The variation about the line occurs because payments differ between the zones, and between rotational and permanent grass (see Table G4). The payment system thus provides an incentive to farmers to provide grass for geese (and attract them in so far as this is possible) where they consider that additional geese pay better than farming.

One problem with the system is that if total goose counts increase and a rolling average is used each year as the basis for payments, the total payment increases (at around £20 per additional goose). This means that unless measures are taken to prevent it, the budget is open-ended.

It is possible to account for the presence of geese in terms of the areas of grass available on different farms. The regression is given below:

g=6.05(+-1.07)p+8.46(+-0.82)r (p<0.001)
where:
r=rotation grass area (ha per farm); p=permanent grass area (ha per farm.)

This indicates that permanent grass accommodates geese at the rate of 6.05 per ha, and rotational grass at 8.46 per ha. Rotational grass is thus around 40% more effective in feeding geese but is paid 55% more than permanent grass. This suggests that permanent pasture is the lower cost route for feeding geese and reducing the feeding zone payment rate relative to that for permanent grass would increase cost efficiency. However, this may also reflect a transient state as grass not reseeded but still quite productive shifts to a lower payment category.

The scheme does not discriminate between Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese in payments, and in this sense supports both equally. It is noticeable, however, that the three farms with the highest counts (and payments) mainly support Barnacle Geese with only 4.8% Greenland White-fronts compared with an overall percentage of Greenland White-fronts of 16.5%.

16.1.10 Basis and operation of the scheme

Islay is a light touch scheme with minimal obligations on farmers and limited compliance monitoring. It has worked well in resolving conflicts between interest groups and providing areas of undisturbed habitat for geese. The Islay LGMG consider that over 25 years the scheme has evolved into one that is harmonious and that fulfils the NGMRG objectives. The main complaint from a small number of farmers was that the counts were inaccurate and underestimated goose numbers (and damage) on their property.

In terms of design, the Islay scheme does not have the classic feeding zones surrounded by buffer zones as recommended (Scottish Executive 2000). There is no spatial link between the zones. Effectively, the goose density defines zones but some flexibility to allocate buffer areas is built in to increase the options open to farmers for scaring. This is desirable in that costs are likely to be lower if a scheme design can offer flexibility to match farmers' interests.

Much of the focus of the scheme is on supporting reseeding. Those farming more intensively see this as central to their agriculture and the LGMG consider that it provides "significant feeding areas for internationally protected geese". But the support given to rotational grass may not be entirely cost-effective.

Payments are effectively made on a per goose basis rather than per ha as this is seen as a 'fair' system of distribution by the LGMG. In so far as a rolling count is used as the basis for payments, farmers have an incentive to attract geese if the net income per ha from additional geese exceeds that from agriculture. There was evidence that some farmers saw geese as an enterprise and the limited uptake of buffer options in the feeding zone supports this observation.

SNH indicate that the conservation obligations for Greenland Barnacle Geese are being met and that the meeting of obligation is not a limiting factor in scheme design. The scheme has failed to halt or reverse the decline for Greenland White-fronted goose on Islay since policy inception of 2000 (although the decrease started in 1999; see Figure G1). No attempts have been made to look at factors that might be operating on Islay during the winter that could negatively impact the Greenland White-fronted Goose population (e.g. impacts of scaring, competitive interactions with Barnacle Geese). There could be scope to modify the scheme in order to successfully offer more support to the Greenland White-fronted Goose population (see Chapters 2 and 7).

16.1.11 Cost-effectiveness

The total cost of the Islay scheme (around £22 per goose) is not excessive when compared with some other schemes. However, the limited obligations on farmers together with the almost 100% uptake suggest that payments are higher than those necessary to achieve the NGMRG objectives. If policy costs need to be reduced there are two main options: (i) reducing payments; and (ii) reducing non-payment costs.

16.1.12 Cost-effectiveness of non-payment expenditure

This scheme is notable for the high level of non-payment costs, in part to obtain goose counts but also to provide an elaborate scaring service. Cost savings could be achieved by: (i) reducing count frequency; and (ii) reducing SNH-financed scaring and lethal shooting (Table G.10). The total potential cost saving is around £70,000 but removal of the marksmen would have implications for the goose population numbers and for damage costs in the longer term. If the overall budget were to be cut, farmers would generally prefer any cuts to be made on these non-payment items.

The current shooting cost (per goose shot) is high compared to that on the Uists (see below) and the LGMG could be asked to investigate a more efficient approach. SNH in their national submission to our questionnaire survey note that "quite substantial payments are currently made to provide undisturbed refuge for Greenland Barnacle Geese which would appear somewhat at odds with both allowing them to be shot and providing the means to do so".

The LGMG state that "for any future scheme the group would intend to carry out a full review of the scaring strategy and part of that will include looking at the work carried out by the marksman to ensure continued effectiveness and value for money".

Table G10: Possible cost saving measures for Islay LGMS

Mechanism

Cost saving per year (£) ( LGMG estimates)

Impact on farming

Impact on geese

Reducing counts to international only. Payments based on historic counts.

£19,500

Negative reaction from some farmers who consider counts are too low. This would introduce an incentive to scare rather than provide habitat for geese. Non-scaring obligations would need to be more rigorously enforced. There would be a need for periodic re-counts to update the count data.

Uncertain but would not impact on conservation obligations in the short term

Removing scaring support.

£24,885

Farmers would need to become more self-reliant in scaring, particularly on reseeds. How the level of scaring would change is uncertain.

Less scaring unless farmers compensated with increased activity.

Removing marksmen

£24,715

Unlikely that farmers would increase their level of shooting to compensate. This may result in increased damage in the longer term.

Less mortality due to shooting with impacts on the Barnacle Goose population.

16.1.13 Cost-effectiveness of payments

It was beyond the remit of the current review to assess the level of payments in relation to the actual costs of goose damage (see Section 4.6.1). However, the virtual 100% participation in the Islay LGMS, the non-inclusion of fixed cost savings associated with reduced output, and the absence of much linkage between payment items and obligations together indicate that payments could be reduced somewhat without significant impact on participation, but under the current goose management structure whether this is negotiable is another matter.

We suggest that the payment for additional fertiliser should be removed from the payment calculation since: (i) survey evidence suggests this is generally not applied; and (ii) payments that encourage additional fertiliser application are in any case contrary to current Scottish Government policy to reduce the negative impacts of nitrogen inputs on climate and water quality. The exclusion of fertiliser payments would reduce the payment costs (using the 2008/09 annual report data) by 21% for rotational grass and 28% for permanent grass (a weighted average of 24%).

Whether payments to farmers to scare are actually justified, and whether payments should be made to farmers without geese, should both be reconsidered, although the LGMG consider the latter important for inclusivity. These additional savings would reduce expenditure by around £4,950 (5%) per year.

It may be possible to increase cost-effectiveness by some re-distribution of payments to increase support for Greenland White-fronted Geese but this deserves further consideration.

16.1.14 Conclusion

The Islay LGMS is widely acknowledged as being very successful at reducing conflicts between farmers and geese wintering in the area. The scheme makes a significant contribution to farm incomes, and geese are now integrated into many farms such that farmers treat them as an income-generating enterprise. It is the largest scheme in Scotland and the budget is substantial at just under £1m per year, part of which finances an unusually elaborate employment of contractors to scare and shoot.

The Islay scheme's distribution of payments is linked to goose counts and is perceived by the LGMG as 'fair'. Whilst this is true, if costs also vary proportionally with density it is more difficult to predict and control the budget. If the populations rise, then so will payments and this potentially injects an incentive to provide habitat which promotes further population increases. Under a climate with the need for budgetary constraint, a cap needs to be imposed to limit the budgetary implications of this payment structure.

There is scope to increase cost-effectiveness within the Islay LGMS by making savings in both payments to farmers and non-payment expenditures. Together, the budget could be reduced by up to 30-35% with minimal impacts on the outputs of the scheme.

This might also be achieved without any negative impact on conservation obligations, and in any case these need to be reconsidered. Greenland White-fronted Goose numbers have declined since 1999 (Section 2.5.3), although the annual reports from the Islay LGMS have not highlighted this as being an issue. Some payment re-distribution giving higher priority to Greenland White-fronted Geese may therefore be desirable and should be considered further. Numbers of Greenland Barnacle Geese on Islay have also declined in the last few years (Section 2.5.2).

There are concerns about increasing Greylag Goose numbers on Islay and negative impacts on other protected species due to competition for food resources. These concerns need to be considered further and measures to resolve the issue may require additional expenditure.

16.2 Kintyre Local Goose Management Scheme

16.2.1 Scheme and objectives

The Kintyre scheme follows an initial scheme established in 2000 and is aimed at protecting the internationally important goose populations on Kintyre, while reducing the economic loss to farmers of hosting such important populations on their valuable in-bye fields.

The Kintyre scheme operates within the national objectives. The specific scheme objectives are to:

  • Minimise the economic losses of farmers who suffer goose damage.
  • Introduce a management framework which will provide sufficient feeding area for the number of geese over wintered within the scheme area.
  • Ensure that Scotland fulfils its international conservation obligations.
  • Carry out regular reviews of payments and payment rates in the light of current agricultural circumstances to ensure that land managers are not being over or under compensated and that value for money is being delivered.

The overall aim of the Kintyre scheme is to "Minimise conflict between goose conservation and agriculture in the Kintyre Local Framework area".

16.2.2 Goose species and site designations

The scheme is set up to ensure that international conservation obligations are being met for the Greenland White-fronted Geese. Smaller populations of Greylag and Greenland Barnacle Geese also occur within the scheme area. JNCC (2010) lists one SPA (Kintyre Goose Roosts) of 412.37 ha, with Greenland White-fronted Goose as a named species.

16.2.3 Monitoring and population estimates

Counts of the numbers of Greenland White-fronted, Greylag and Greenland Barnacle Geese are carried out once a week for the sites of Laggan, Tayinloan, Clachan and Gigha from the period of mid October to late April. Counts of Gigha and Tayinloan occur on the same day in order to avoid the possibility of double counting. Standard routes are used and the start and timing vary in order to reduce bias according to time of day. Counts are recorded by field and, more recently, information on habitat and stock type have also been collated. These counts also feed directly into the international counts (but unlike on Islay they are not paired counts). Counts are carried out by SNH staff. Counts are then summed for the Kintyre scheme and an annual population estimate is taken as the seasonal mean of all counts for the winter period. Peak counts are also calculated for each year (see Figure G.3). Additional information on breeding success is collected for Greenland White-fronted Geese for all sites apart from Gigha. Historical data are available from Laggan and Tayinloan since 1990, Clachan since 1993 and Gigha since 2001. Count data are also collated for Glenbarr, a site that experiences occasional use. The results of the scheme counts are also used for the calculation of payments to farmers, based on the goose densities per ha (based on a 3-year average).

Figure G3. Changes in the population counts of Greenland White-fronted Goose (square), Greylag Goose (triangles) and Greenland Barnacle Goose (diamonds) in the Kintyre LGMS based on peak counts (from LGMS data).

Figure G3

The peak population of Greenland White-fronted Goose in the winter of 2009/2010 was estimated as 3,360 (Figure G3). This represents the third year of an increase in numbers, although the numbers are still slightly lower than the figure reported for the winter of 2000-2001 of 3,600 birds. Based on the data from the spring international counts in 2008/2009, the Kintyre scheme represented 26% and 15% of the Scottish and global population of Greenland White-fronted Goose respectively.

Numbers of Greenland Barnacle Geese over the last ten years are relatively small and range between 41 and 116 birds (Figure G3).

The wintering population of Greylag Geese in the winter of 2009/2010 was estimated as 898 geese, which was very similar to numbers recorded in the winter of 2000/2001 (Figure G3). Although these Greylag Geese are likely to be from the migratory Icelandic population, these figures may include resident breeding Greylags for which no estimated numbers are available.

16.2.4 Zones and payment rates

Geese are present in four main locations in Kintyre (Laggan, Tayinloan, Clachan and Gigha), with most farms in the scheme located in the first two of these areas.

The allocation of fields into zones is determined by goose density in the 2005-2008 period (Table G11). Higher density fields (>3 per ha) are automatically defined as feeding zone fields.

Table G11: Zones used in the Kintyre LGMS

Goose density

Zone

Scaring/disturbance allowed?

=3/ha

Feeding zone

None

1-2.99/ha

Buffer zone

Non-noisy scaring allowed

<1/ha

Scaring zone

Yes, and access for SNH scarer

Payment rates for the three zones are given in Table G12. The feeding zone rates relate to a density of >=12 geese per ha with proportionate reductions at lower densities. The minimum feeding zone payment is £163 per ha to ensure that feeding management is paid at a higher rate than buffer management. Buffer zone payments are for a density of 3 per ha with proportionate reductions for lower densities. Farms with only scaring zone fields are paid a flat rate of £100 as an incentive to join the scheme.

Table G12: Payment rates used in the Kintyre LGMS in 2009/10 (actually paid after any capping by NGMRG)

Feeding zone
(£ per ha)

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

(£ per ha)

(£ per year)

Stocked (1 st Jan- 31 st March)

326

163

100

Unstocked (1 st Jan- 31 st March)

356

The feeding zone stocked payment rates are based on additional costs and income forgone on dairy farms (Table G13), with adjustment to reflect options for stocking in winter.

Table G13: Items in the payment calculation for the Kintyre LGMS

Type of effect on farm income

Item

Additional costs

Reseeding every 6 years instead of 8

Additional fertiliser in spring and autumn

Income foregone through loss of agricultural production

Loss from dairy cows, from reduced grazing, silage and aftermath

When unstocked, equivalent income from hog overwintering.

16.2.5 Management agreement obligations and compliance monitoring

The management agreement has scaring conditions (Table G11) but no other conditions that affect farm management other than those relating to the unstocked option. There are no conditions relating to fertiliser applications or reseeding frequency even though these are important elements in the payment calculation.

There is no formal monitoring of compliance - but there is very little to comply with and therefore little to monitor. The SNH counter and goose officer informally monitored compliance with the conditions for the unstocked option. This indicated that compliance was very high. There appeared to be no financial sanctions imposed for non-compliance.

16.2.6 Shooting

No licences are issued for shooting Greenland White-fronted or Barnacle Geese in Kintyre.

16.2.7 Uptake and payments to farmers

The 2008/09 report recorded 43 eligible farms with geese, of which 34 entered the scheme and received payments (Table G14). Of these, 26 were dairy farms. However, the apparent non-uptake of 21% was considered by SNH staff to be an artefact, since it included fields where ownership was unknown. Local staff members were unable to identify the 43 farms eligible but stated that all farms with significant goose numbers entered the scheme. Non-applicants were those with less than one goose per ha, for whom the incentive of £100 was apparently too small to induce entry. There were 195 fields in the database.

Table G14: Numbers of farms/crofts entering the Kintyre scheme and receiving payments

Year

Number of farms eligible to apply for scheme

Number of eligible farms with geese present

Number applied to enter scheme

Number accepted

Number receiving management payments

2009/10

46

43

34

34

34

Total payments and areas are given in Table G15, with the costs of the scheme as a whole in Table G16.

Table G15: Areas and payments in the Kintyre LGMS in 2009/10

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

Total area on which payments made (ha)

198.7

387.18

584.38

Total payment made

£39,926.00

£36,492.00

£1000.00

The Kintyre scheme cost £110,364 to operate and payments accounted for £77,418 (70.1%) of the total (Table G16). With an average count in 2008/09 of 2,114 geese, the cost per goose is £52.20, with a payment cost of £36.60 per goose. Using the shorter 20-week average count of 2,558 gives a mean total cost of £43.10 per goose.

Table G16: Expenditure related to Kintyre scheme (£ per year)

2008/09
(£)

Management payments

77,418

Other expenditure specific to scheme (goose officers, monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

25,033

Administration of scheme ( SNH)

4,535

Administration of scheme ( SGRPID)

3,378

TOTAL

110,364

Note: 2009/10 forecast expenditures are identical to those for 2008/09

16.2.8 Analysis of payments

Statistics on goose densities, counts and payments were derived from the LGMG database (Table G17). This is a scheme that has a high area of buffer zone (62% of the total area) relative to feeding zone. It reflects the low mean goose density at 1.94 per ha, and a median of 1.09 per ha. Around half of the fields (47%) had a density of less than 1 goose per ha and only 18% qualified as feeding zone fields (_3 per ha). Thirty-five per cent of fields had a density of <0.5 per ha. Hence the Kintyre scheme is funding mainly low-density fields

Table G17: Density and payment data for the Kintyre LGMS

Minimum

Maximum

Mean

Median

Density (geese/ha) (195 fields)

0.00

14.39

1.94

1.096

Total farmer payment (£) (34 farms)

100.00

12,947

2,277.0

719.6

The maximum payment was £12,947, with a median of £719.60, indicating that 50% of farmers in the scheme received less than £719 per year (10 received the minimum £100). Geese and payments are thus concentrated on a relatively small number of fields and farms, with others being minor beneficiaries of the Kintyre scheme.

The buffer zone payments are calculated in a way that distorts the proportionate scaling of payments in relation to density. At face value, the buffer payment is £163/3 per goose which gives £54.30 per goose. The feeding zone payments for unstocked land are £356/12= £29.70 per goose. The feeding zone payments are constrained to not fall below the maximum buffer zone payment of £163. The outcome (Figure G4) is that feeding zone fields with 3-5.5 goose per ha (3-6.0 if stocked) receive the same payment. Buffer zone fields are paid at high rates per goose held. This is an unsatisfactory basis for payments because it is neither proportional nor related to marginal cost.

Figure G4: Payment (£) in relation to goose density (per ha)

Figure G4

If it is assumed that damage is proportional to density, then there should be a straight line relationship between density and payments, and the obvious way of achieving this is to reduce the buffer zone payments so that they do not exceed what an unstocked feeding zone field would in theory receive at the same density 59 . For example a buffer zone density of 2.5 currently receives £135.80 per ha but would receive £74.20 under the revision suggested. An FZ field at a density of 5.0 would receive £148.30 instead of £163.

Forty-five per cent of all fields have a density between 1.0 and 5.5 and, of the fields receiving payments, 84% appear to have been 'overpaid' because of the unsatisfactory integration of buffer and feeding zone rates. This goes some way towards explaining the high cost per goose of this Kintyre scheme.

16.2.9 Basis and operation of the scheme

The Kintyre local group committee and the farmers interviewed considered that the scheme worked well. There was concern from one farmer about the accuracy of counts but this appeared to be a minority view. The scheme was perceived by the group as being relatively expensive to operate, at a cost per goose of £110,364/2,214=£52.20 per goose (£35.00 per goose in payments). This was attributed, in part, to the dispersed nature of the scheme and the resultant high travelling and time costs for SNH staff and counters/scarers. It was also pointed out that the Greenland White-fronted Goose is a larger goose than the Barnacle, such that comparison of costs per goose with Barnacle areas may be misleading. The scheme has a goose officer and farmers found the administration quite satisfactory with little administrative burden for participants.

The scheme incorporates a high proportion of low density fields and the NGMRG advised the group in 2008 that the scheme should focus more on the level of actual goose damage rather than the number of participants per se. As a result of limits on funding, other schemes have had to target support for goose management on the most densely used fields. Concern was expressed about the high cost of the scheme and its value or money.

The LGMG consider "that the scheme balances the needs of those with lower densities of geese as well as those with higher densities. Any change to that balance would jeopardise the involvement of farmers who get lower levels of payments, primarily for scaring only. The impact of this shift in management would result in uncoordinated non-scheme scaring, pushing higher densities of geese onto the farms which already have the highest densities". It is hard to understand the logic of this statement, which implies that scheme-organized scaring aims to leave the geese where they are rather than concentrating them in the feeding zones.

16.2.10 Cost effectiveness

Kintyre is a high cost scheme with costs per goose over twice that for Islay. It has aimed to be inclusive by incorporating a large number of fields but many have few geese and yet impose administrative and scaring costs and payments. Cost-effectiveness could be improved by the group not providing scaring services. This would save £15,600 per year but its impacts need to be investigated. Costs could also be reduced by £7,300 by limiting the counts to international obligations and using historic data. The issues surrounding these decisions are similar to those covered for Islay (see Table G.10).

The payment calculation clearly needs to be reorganised, particularly as regards the buffer payments. We recalculated the buffer zone payments based on extending the feeding zone stocked payments to lower densities (which would straighten the buffer payments in G4) and the cost saving was 24% of the total payment expenditure. An adjustment to the feeding zone payments to remove the lower cap (and straighten the feeding zone payment line in Figure 2.1) saved 29% of the payment expenditure. This normalisation would reduce the mean payment cost per goose to £26.10 per goose (compared with £36.60 actually paid).

As with the Islay LGMG we suggest removing the fertiliser element from the payment calculation. There was no obligation to spread additional fertiliser and no evidence from interviews that farmers did increase spring and autumn fertiliser due to participation in the scheme. This would save 24-27% of the feeding zone area payments. Introduced jointly, these savings would reduce the payments by 46%.

16.2.11 Conclusion

This Kintyre scheme has an important role in providing habitat for the population of Greenland White-fronted Geese and numbers have been reasonably stable since the start of the scheme (see Figure G3). When taking into account the total costs of running the scheme and the numbers of geese supported taken from the scheme counts, the cost is £52.20 per goose compared to £36.60 per goose based on payments to farmers alone. Therefore the scheme appears to be expensive per goose supported even when the dispersed nature of the location and the dairy farming context are taken into account. Some caution must be exercised in comparing this with Islay or other locations however, because of the larger size of the Greenland White-fronted Goose but even so the scheme is not cost-effective due mainly to a poorly designed payment structure, which we suggest is not fit for purpose. It is more likely that this represents an error in design rather than a negotiated mechanism to improve farmer payments at low goose densities.

A re-alignment of payments in relation to density would give a cost per goose more comparable to other locations, and a removal of fertiliser payments would allow costs to be cut by around 46% in total. No impact would be expected on the Greenland White-fronted Goose population since, as the group has indicated, grazing capacity is not a limiting factor. Even more substantial savings could be achieved if scaring and counting costs were scaled back but the consequences of this need further consideration.

16.3 Solway Barnacle Goose Management Scheme

The analysis of this scheme was hampered by a lack of a clear database (or linked databases) identifying field designations, goose counts per field, which fields were receiving payments and a linkage between these and payments made to farmers. This may reflect resource constraints for the group and/or a lack of auditing and scrutiny. The annual reports were inadequate for our analysis since they do not indicate the counts on fields receiving payments or on fields not receiving payments. A protracted correspondence was required to obtain the data presented here.

16.3.1 Scheme and objectives

The current Solway scheme was launched in 2005 following former schemes starting in 1994-95 and 2000. The objectives of this scheme are consistent with the original Goose Policy Framework NGMRG objectives (Scottish Executive 2000), and are given as:

  • meet the UK's conservation obligations
  • minimise the economic impact of geese on farmers
  • provide value for money of public expenditure

16.3.2 Goose species and site designations

The Solway scheme is set up primarily to meet conservation obligations for the Svalbard Barnacle Goose, whose wintering grounds are located almost entirely within the Inner Solway. The area encompassed by the LGMS only covers part of Inner Solway however. There is also a separate Solway Merse Management Scheme, which protects the habitat used by Svalbard Barnacle Geese.

The Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA covers 30,706 ha (part in Scotland and part in England) and has the Svalbard Barnacle Goose as a named species.

16.3.3 Monitoring and population estimates

There are two types of counts that cover the Solway LGMS: the co-ordinated Svalbard Barnacle Goose population counts and the management scheme counts, which also cover Pink-footed, Greylag and Canada Goose. More recently both of these schemes have been carried out by WWT under contract to SNH. Additional information on brood size and productivity is collected.

For the co-ordinated Svalbard Barnacle Goose population survey, weekly counts of flocks are carried out during in the arrival and departure period of October and April/May respectively. In between these two periods, the counts are carried out at the less reqular interval of every two weeks. The counts cover the much more extensive area of the Inner Solway and therefore include geese outwith the boundary of the Solway LGMS itself. Geese are counted in survey sections within an intensive1-2 hour period at the same time on the same day, which minimises the risk of double counting.

The management scheme counts are carried out on a 6-day cycle in order to vary the day of the week on which each section is counted. A standard route is set and the starting points are varied in order to avoid biases in numbers according to the time of day. Geese are recorded by field and it is permissible to double count geese if flocks move between fields. Although scheme counts do not feed into a direct calculation of goose densities per ha, they are used to determine the zones to which each field can be allocated when considering the eligibility of fields as part of the scheme (based on previous goose use). Neither the management scheme goose counts nor the co-ordinated Svalbard Barnacle Goose population counts can be used to indicate the numbers of geese actually supported by the LGMS scheme with any degree of accuracy.

The most recent population estimate of the Inner Solway Svalbard Barnacle Goose population was approximately 32,800 birds in the winter of 2009/2010. The long-term trend is an increase in numbers from the 1960s, when approximately 2,500-3000 birds were recorded. The scheme would seem to have facilitated the growth in size of this population.

16.3.4 Zones and payment rates

In the Solway scheme, the LGMG defines zones and their constituent fields taking account of the presence and location of the RSPB and WWT reserves, and intertidal roost sites. Feeding zone fields are those most likely to be consistently heavily used by geese and buffer zone fields those likely to have less consistent or less heavy use. Outwith these zones, there are designated scaring zones. The LGMG used 5-year count data in their designation of fields. Those with an average of >2100 goose days per ha were identified as potential feeding zone and those with 700 goose days per ha as potential buffer zone.

The LGMG state that they use detailed local knowledge and local patterns of goose use to develop logical and strategic goose management zones. In practice, each year the group receive offers of fields and designations from farmers within the scheme and decides on the allocation. Whilst density data from previous years inform this allocation, the actual mechanism used has no clear rules and can involve direct negotiation with farmers.

Payments are made for fields in the feeding and buffer zones but no payment is made in the scaring zone (Table G18). Two farms adjacent to the WWT reserve are allocated higher buffer zone payments because of high goose densities due to their location. This recognises the need for these farms to have buffer ground and some flexibility in their farming.

Table G18: Payment rates for the Solway LGMS in 2009/10 (actually paid after any capping by NGMRG)

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Buffer zone (Midtown, Newfield)

(£ per ha)

(£ per ha)

(£ per ha)

370

110

240



The feeding zone payment rates are based on additional costs and income foregone (Table G19). Farm context is not uniform: three of the 17 farms in the scheme are dairy farms and these might be expected to have higher opportunity costs. Buffer zone payments are set at 50% of the income foregone element in the feeding zone payment calculation. In 2008/09 the payment rates were revised and a new bid put to the NGMRG. The rates in Table G18 represent a revision of the 2007-08 bid figure, as the NGMRG 'scaled back' the proposed rates. Unlike some other schemes, the payments are at a flat rate according to the zone and are not modified according to goose density.

Table G19: Items in the payment calculation used by the Solway LGMS

Type of effect on farm income

Item

Additional costs

Reseeding every 4 years instead of 8

Additional fertiliser in spring and autumn

Income foregone through loss of agricultural production

Loss from dairy cows, from reduced grazing, silage and aftermath

The Solway LGMG were of the opinion that the payment zone was supporting its maximum population and that as the population increased geese were spreading out to nearby locations.

16.3.5 Management agreement obligations and compliance monitoring

The Solway management agreement has the usual scaring conditions associated with each zone. Participants agree not to apply for licences to shoot Barnacle Geese, although other shooting is not restricted unless it causes disturbance to the feeding zone. There are no other conditions that constrain farm management (e.g. reseed frequency or fertiliser applications, grazing by livestock) and no restrictions on slurry applications. A wide range of grass and crops are eligible for buffer zone payments (including rape and cereals).

There is no formal monitoring of compliance with management agreement obligations (but conditions other than scaring are minimal). The goose officer and counters do engage in recording of scaring and shooting (disturbance) events during scheme counts, and there is stated to be a degree of self-policing by participants in the scheme.

16.3.6 Shooting

No licences were issued in 2008/09 according to SGRPID statistics. Although participants receiving payments have an obligation not to apply for licences, the LGMG state that "there have been a small number of applications for a licence to shoot Barnacle Geese" but these have not been supported by the group and have not been granted. Presumably these are applications from farmers outwith the LGMS area, although this is not clear.

16.3.7 Uptake and payments to farmers

There are around 50 farms (7,600 ha) within the count area. of which 31 had geese in 2008/09. Of these, only 18 are included in the payment zones. Farms not in the payment zones are either designated as scaring zone or outwith the scheme.

Of the 19 farms eligible for payments, 18 entered the scheme in the last two years (Table G20). One intensive dairy farmer did not participate because he wished to minimise the impact of geese on his farm through scaring. He believes that participating in the scheme would reduce his ability to make high quality silage, force a reduction in stocking rate and have major impacts on income. In addition it would reduce the capital value of his business, which would be critical were the farm to be sold as a commercial unit. Nevertheless, the farmer benefited from the scheme since, by providing habitat, it reduced the impact of geese on his business.

Table G20: Numbers of farms in the Solway LGMS payment zone in 2008/09 and 2009/10

Year

Number of farms eligible to apply for scheme in that year

Number of eligible farms with geese in that year

Number applied to enter scheme in that year

Number accepted in that year

Number receiving management payments in that year

2008/09

18

18

17

17

17

2009/10

18

18

17

17

17

The difference between areas eligible for payment and areas participating reflects the non-participation of one farmer (Table G21).

Table G21: Areas eligible for payment in the Solway LGMS in 2008/09 and 2009/10

Feeding Zone

Buffer Zone

Year

Area eligible for scheme in that year (ha)

Area entered into scheme in that year (ha)

Total payment made (£)

Area eligible for scheme in that year (ha)

Area entered into scheme in that year (ha)

Total payment made (£)

2008/09

482

468

173,278

470

418

46,782

2009/10

478

465

172,075

465

413

45,823

In the Solway area, there are numerous farms with geese not considered eligible for payments. In 2008-09 there were 29 fields with densities exceeding 5 geese per ha and 480 fields with densities exceeding 2 geese per ha. Interviews with a sample of farmers not eligible for payments revealed a problem with goose damage that they considered significant. There was dissatisfaction with the scheme because assistance was limited to advice and some provision of scaring equipment. These farmers considered themselves disenfranchised.

Representations were made in 2007/08 for inclusion by groups of farms excluded from payments. These applications were rejected by the LGMG either because the geese were mainly Pink-feet or because the goose densities were lower than those in the current scheme.

The total reported cost of the scheme in 2008/09 (Table G22) was £241,355 of which 91% was in payments to farmers. The main non-payment expenditure was for counting (£14,606) and provision of scaring equipment (£1,639). No specific goose officer or goose scaring co-ordinators are employed, although SNH provide secretarial and scheme management services. The 6-day counts were contracted out to WWT.

Table G22: Expenditure related to the Solway scheme in 2009/2010 (£ per year)

2008/09
(£)

Management payments

220,060

Other expenditure specific to scheme (staff, monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

16,245

Administration of scheme ( SNH)

3,892

Administration of scheme ( SGRPID)

1,158

TOTAL

241,355

Note: 2009/10 forecast expenditures are similar to those for 2008/09

The LGMG do not report on the number of geese supported by the scheme or on the cost per goose.

16.3.8 Basis and operation of the scheme

The Solway scheme is focussed on 18 farms close to the reserves and has sought to contain geese within this area. However, Barnacle Goose numbers in the Solway area have increased over the last 15-20 years and continue to do so. The scheme appears to be at capacity on the ca 940 ha that participate, and geese are spreading to new areas. The approach of concentrating geese near the reserves appears increasingly unsatisfactory and inequitable as farms suffering goose damage outside the payment zones no longer have the realistic option of scaring into the scheme area. The group has argued strongly against any expansion of the scheme if this implies dilution of payments to existing participants.

This raises more fundamental questions about strategy for geese in the area and the desirability of supporting an increasing population. The LGMG did not provide the review with a readily interpretable database that allowed linkage between the count data and the zonation and payments. Such information will be important in any re-modelling of the scheme. There was a lack of transparency and clear rules in the allocation of fields to payment categories. This may cause concern for any external scrutiny of the scheme.

Whilst participants were generally pleased with the operation and administration of the scheme, there was dissatisfaction amongst some farmers excluded from payments.

16.3.9 Cost effectiveness

Data provided by the Solway LGMG on the fields participating in the scheme and their zonation in 2009/10 were used to estimate a cost per goose for the scheme. The total payment derived from this dataset was £218,259 and the total scheme cost estimated at around £240,000. Fields receiving payments supported 1,456,146 goose days. The cost per goose days is thus £0.15 (payments only) or £0.165 (total cost). Assuming a season of 216 days the cost per goose is around £32.40 (payments only) or £35.60 (total) 60 .

Our estimates of the cost of support from feeding and buffer fields were £29.60 and £33.20 per goose respectively. This suggests that the zonal payment relativities are reasonably well set in relation to their effectiveness.

The Solway is a relatively high cost scheme. Although a comparison with Islay might suggest comparable payments rates per ha, this is deceptive since in Solway payments are not scaled by goose density: they are absolute rates per ha. The rates of payments in relation to goose density are undoubtedly the main reason for the scheme's high cost.

The most obvious route to increase cost-effectiveness is to reduce payment rates or scale payments to goose days supported. Stricter eligibility and selection criteria in relation to cropping may also provide a route for greater cost-effectiveness. The group does not appear to have analysed the effectiveness of different land uses for feeding geese and this may offer scope for improving cost-effectiveness.

As with other areas we also suggest removing the fertiliser element from the basis of costing since there is little evidence to indicate that additional fertiliser is applied. This would save between 19 and 25% of the feeding zone costs.

One route to improve effectiveness is to expand the scheme within the current budget to allow bids from a wider set of farms with Barnacle Geese and then select fields on a more objective basis. The Solway LGMG argue that such an approach would fragment the scheme and reduce its effectiveness, when, in fact, it could do just the opposite. The group appreciate that the scheme may not be fully representative of farms damaged by geese in the area. Their intention is to reconsider whether the members of the group encompass the full range of required representation.

16.3.10 Conclusion

The Solway scheme has been successful in obtaining broad support and considerably reducing the historic animosity towards geese in the area. The LGMG state that "there is a considerable degree of co-operation in the goose scheme area over the management of geese". The value of this goodwill is not to be underestimated. The scheme has probably facilitated an increase in the Svalbard Barnacle Goose population. However, this has been achieved at a relatively high cost per goose. We suggest that there is likely to be considerable scope for improving the cost effectiveness of this scheme by removing payments for fertiliser, and by more rigorous selection of fields and tighter conditions on land use, or linking payments to goose density.

The current scheme is not addressing the wider issue of increasing geese numbers, outside the payment zone and with species other than Barnacle Goose. We consider that it should ideally be re-formulated to provide an opportunity to respond to the increasing and spatially expanding goose population, the case for increased cost-effectiveness and wider representation, and to implement greater transparency in operations and reporting.

16.4 Loch of Strathbeg Goose Management Scheme

16.4.1 Scheme and objectives

The first Loch of Strathbeg goose management scheme was an SNH-financed pilot established to "alleviate the conflict between the geese which roost on the loch and the surrounding farms where they feed" ( JNCC, 2010a). It operated from 1994-1997. Using monitoring data from the pilot and subsequent research, an application was made to the NGMRG and accepted in 2001/02. Whilst there is a presumption against management schemes for populations of (grey) geese not requiring special protection, the NGMRG made an exception for this area, because it surrounded a large, established roost which was designated as an SPA, and the high concentration of geese caused significant damage to crops and grass in the surrounding area.

The objectives, as stated in the LGMS 2009 annual report, concur with the original Goose Policy Framework objectives (Scottish Executive 2000), and are given as:

  • meet the UK's conservation obligations
  • minimise the economic impact of geese on farmers
  • provide value for money of public expenditure

The Loch of Strathbeg scheme is unusual in having a tight budgetary cap and boundary imposed by the NGMRG to limit expenditure in a context where no Annex 1 species are being supported.

The scheme is designed to facilitate scaring off grass and crops on to refuge areas. It operates as a spring-only scheme (March and April), targeted at the period when agricultural damage is greatest.

16.4.2 Goose species and site designation

The Loch of Strathbeg scheme is set up for primarily for Icelandic Pink-footed Geese but smaller numbers of Icelandic Greylag and Svalbard Barnacle Geese also occur within the scheme area.

The Loch of Strathbeg is internationally recognised for its importance as a roost for wintering and migrating geese, namely the Pink-footed Goose. It is an SPA (covering 615.94 ha) and a Ramsar Site.

16.4.3 Monitoring and population counts

Goose counts are not carried out as part of the Loch of Strathbeg scheme because Pink-footed Geese are a very mobile species and they have a relatively high turnover. Therefore monitoring is designed to try and quantify the actual usage of fields by counting droppings during a single visit in each of the months of March and April. The numbers of droppings are counted in a 5m 2 sampling area in up to 20 locations per field, depending on the overall size. Sward height is also measured and is used to check that the feeding areas are being used sufficiently. These dropping counts are then converted into goose days per ha (with adjustments made for rainfall based on previous calibrations carried out as part of the scheme). This information is then used to derive a proxy for the number of goose days supported by the different types of zones (e.g. feeding, buffer) and the scheme itself, thereby providing a means of demonstrating value for money. Counts are carried out by an independent ecological consultant under contract to SNH.

Monthly WeBS counts (see Appendix E) are also carried out at the Loch of Strathbeg and published data from the annual WeBS report are available up to the winter of 2007/2008. The monthly WeBS counts are cited in GSAG's annual report to NGMRG but are potentially misleading since the highest numbers occur in the autumn when the scheme is not in operation. RSPB also carry out dawn roost counts twice a week at the Loch of Strathbeg during the winter period. Count data from March and April (see Figure G5) are then provided by the RSPB to the independent ecological consultant to estimate the number of goose days that need to be supported by the scheme each year.

Figure G5: Changes in the numbers of Pink-footed geese recorded during the Loch of Strathbeg spring roost counts (grey= March, Black = April).

Figure G5

16.4.4 Zones and payment rates

The Loch of Strathbeg scheme operates within an 87km 2 area around the loch, with fields allocated to one of two zones: feeding and buffer. The LGMG is obliged by NGMRG to broadly follow the classic bullseye concept in which buffer zone land must be adjacent to feeding zone land. This puts constraints on what individual farmers can offer as buffer zone by obliging them to offer one or more adjacent feeding zone fields.

Table G23 gives payment rates for 2010. These are fixed rate payments that do not vary with goose counts. A one-off scaring zone payment of £250 was made in the years 2005-2007 to support the purchase of scaring equipment but has now been discontinued.

Table G23: Payment rates used in the Loch of Strathbeg LGMS (actually paid after any capping by NGMRG) in 2010

Feeding zone (non-organic)
(£ per ha)

Feeding zone (organic)
(£ per ha)

Buffer zone
(£ per ha)

159

114

57

The feeding zone payments are based on the cost of additional fertiliser and loss of production from delayed turnout to grassland (Table G24). This accounts for only a part of the reduction in farm income resulting from goose grazing as calculated by Daw and Daw (2001). They estimated that impacts on grassland only accounted for 22% of the total damage costs. Impacts on crop yields, and especially the inability to grow winter barley, were much more significant.

The buffer zone payment is set at 50% of the income foregone in the feeding zone. Since the scheme is over-subscribed and there is a fixed budget, the LGMG selects amongst the fields offered on the basis of previous count information and the spatial linkage between feeding zone and buffer zone fields so as to use the budget to best advantage.

Table G24: Items in the Loch of Strathbeg LGMS payment calculation (feeding zone)

Type of effect on farm income

Non-organic

Organic

Additional costs

Additional fertiliser in spring (125 kg/ha nitrogen)

Income foregone through loss of agricultural production

Loss from delayed turnout of store cattle

Loss from delayed turnout of store cattle

16.4.5 Management agreement obligations and compliance monitoring

The zones (Table G25) have the usual restrictions on scaring but additionally an obligation to apply fertiliser in February on non-organic feeding zone fields. There is a careful compliance system in operation and farmers have to phone SNH on the day fertiliser is applied. Random checks are made as a check on compliance.

Table G25: Principal management agreement obligations in the Loch of Strathbeg LGMS

Feeding zone - non organic

Feeding zone - organic

Buffer zone

No stock grazing or recreational activity

No stock grazing or recreational activity

Visual scaring only

No scaring and no audible scaring within 100m of feeding zone field boundaries

No scaring and no audible scaring within 100m of feeding zone field boundaries

Only inorganic fertiliser can be applied

125 kg per ha nitrogen fertiliser to be applied between 20 th and 28 th February to comply with the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations

Apart from the fertiliser obligation, the main constraint on feeding zone fields is the restriction on stocking until May. Farmers with stock and sufficiently early fields greatly prefer the buffer zone option because they can put stock on when grass starts to grow in April. Our interviews suggested that feeding zone fields were offered by farmers who had lower demands for early grazing, where fields were late and wet, and where some feeding zone had to be offered in order to ensure that the buffer zone offers were accepted.

16.4.6 Scaring and shooting

Although visual scaring is permitted on buffer zone fields, little scaring is practised for a number of reasons. Farmers prefer to have geese on their grass rather than on their crops. Maintaining goose numbers also increased the probability of participation in future years. Scaring also requires considerable effort especially on remote farms.

Many farmers have 'commercial' goose shooting during the 1/10-1/2 open season and it seems that a substantial number of geese are shot but the exact numbers are not known.

The 2009 annual report states that three farmers applied for closed season licences (two issued). However, the SGRPID 2009 records indicate that no licences were issued. The majority of farmers found the licence system administratively demanding and there was little incentive to obtain a licence since shooting to scare is legal as long as no geese are shot.

16.4.7 Uptake and payments to farmers

In 2008/09 there were 57 eligible farmers within the boundary of the Loch of Strathbeg scheme, of which 17 applied to enter and were accepted. The 17 participants had 24 farms with 94 fields participating in the scheme. Feeding zone applications (465.9 ha) exceeded the available funding and only 392.7 ha were accepted (84% of the total) (Table G26). Of the buffer zone applications, 66% were accepted.

Table G26: Total Areas and Payments in the Loch of Strathbeg LGMS in 2009

Feeder zone (non-organic)

Feeder zone (organic)

Buffer zone

Area applied for scheme (ha)

367.41

98.45

442.11

Area entered into scheme (ha)

303.79

88.91

289.34

Total payment made (£)

48,302

10,135

16,492

The evidence from interviews suggested that those not applying to join the scheme opted not to do so because they found the restrictions on stocking in the feeding zone too costly, the goose problems were relatively slight or they wished to retain flexibility in farm management. However, since the budget is limited and over-subscribed, non-applicants were not perceived as a problem for the success of the scheme. SNH (2009) indicates no correlation between goose use of a refuge (feeding zone) and distance from the roost to the Loch.

The interview evidence suggested that where farmers chose not to scare in the buffer zone there were no binding constraints on the use of the land. They were essentially being paid for normal farm practice and their willingness to accept ( WTA) would presumably be lower than the payment rate.

The payment rates were revised in 2009 but the LGMG proposed budget was restricted by NGMRG. The total scheme expenditure in 2009 was £85,434, of which 88% consisted of payments to farmers (Table G27). Other expenditure was low and consisted of goose dropping counts undertaken under contract. Expenditure in 2010 is expected to be slightly lower than in 2009 due to the impact of conflicts between feeding zone obligations and obligations under certain Scottish Rural Development Programme ( SRDP) Rural Priorities options (see below). The estimated total expenditure is £79,145 of which £69,339 will be on payments.

Table G27: Expenditure related to the Loch of Strathbeg scheme in 2009 and 2010

2009 (£)

2010 (£) estimate

Management payments

74,930

69,339

Other expenditure specific to scheme (goose monitoring)

4,912

4,912

Administration of scheme ( SNH)

5,092

4,934

Administration of scheme ( SGRPID)

500

500

TOTAL

85,434

79,145

Note: 2009/10 forecast expenditures are not yet available.

16.4.8 Basis and operation of the scheme

Loch of Strathbeg LGMS is a managed scheme in which the group selects fields from those offered to the limits imposed by the budget. It selects spatially related feeding zone and buffer zone fields using historic counts and uses the budget cap as the criteria for selection. This seems to be done on an informal VFM basis. The technical aim is to maximise the extent to which the fields in the scheme provide feeding for the goose population at the Loch in the spring. In 2009, 48.9% of the local roost population of Pink-footed Geese was supported by the scheme in March and 28.8% in April. Hence the fields in the scheme provide grass for geese but a large part of the population appears to feed outwith the fields receiving payment.

The LGMG and the participants interviewed considered that they had a well-designed and operated scheme that suited the participants. There was careful selection of fields with the aim of providing minimal disturbance grazing for geese for two months. However, there was evidence that the buffer zone payment rates may be unnecessarily high since many participants had no binding obligations on these fields.

In terms of meeting national goose policy objectives, the species are not protected under the Birds Directive Annex 1 and are widely shot. The scheme supports the SPA and makes a contribution to meeting the economic losses experienced by participant farmers. It uses an informal VFM assessment for entry into the scheme. Essentially it is a tension-reducing scheme that provides some goose welfare benefits.

16.4.9 Conflicts with SRDP

A conflict between two SRDP Rural Priorities contracts and the feeding zone obligations with regards to fertiliser spreading dates 61 was discovered in February 2010 on 114.28 ha (involving seven participants). It was resolved by removing the obligation to apply nitrogen fertiliser on feeding zone fields and reducing the payment rate to the organic rate (£114 instead of £159 per ha). This does raise the question of whether there is a degree of double funding between the goose schemes and SRDP. It certainly suggested that any mechanisms in place for checking on conflicts between contracts might be inadequate.

16.4.10 Cost effectiveness

The Loch of Strathbeg scheme's technical effectiveness is measured by the LGMG as the percentage of the local roost population that is observed on scheme fields (as indicated above). A more informative measure of success would be the increase in population on the scheme area (or more precisely on the fields receiving payment) as compared with what would have happened had the scheme not been operating. This is unobservable but raises the question of what the additionality of the scheme really is especially when the majority of geese days are spent outwith scheme fields. Participants indicated that without the scheme the geese would have more disturbance due to wider scaring but it was not clear what other impact there might be.

The payment rates appear low per ha as compared with other schemes but the scheme operates over a limited period (March and April) rather than throughout the winter. Both the LGMG and farmers interviewed were happy with the fixed rate payment system even though this does not reward participants equitably in relation to goose numbers. However, where counts per ha in a field are low this reduces the chance of participation for that field in the succeeding years.

Table G28 gives the mean goose days for each zone from observations in March and April. The weighted mean payment cost per goose is £13.80 62 and the total cost per goose £15.70.

Table G28: Payment cost per goose in the Loch of Strathbeg LGMS (2009) 63

Feeding zone (non-organic)

Feeding zone (organic)

Buffer zone

Total Area (ha)

303.8

89.0

289.4

Goose days (March-April)

146,700

30,830

105,740

Geese supported per ha

9.29

6.66

7.03

Payment cost per goose (£)

17.1

17.1

8.1

Note: A different dataset was used to derive these figures from that used to derive Table 4.4. Hence totals may vary slightly. The number of geese supported per ha is based on 52 days.

While the feeding zone supported more geese per ha than the buffer zone, when the differential in payment rates was included the feeding zones were substantially more expensive than the buffer zones. Organic and non-organic feeding zones were similar in value for money ( VFM), which makes the fertiliser obligations (and payment) of questionable value. It could be argued that the buffer zone and feeding zone fields are not perfect substitutes and that the buffer zone counts are affected positively by the proximity of feeding zone fields. However, it seems unlikely that this accounts for the large differentials in cost per goose. The results are suggestive of important differences in VFM for the different zones but they need to be confirmed by more detailed analysis using all the scheme data.

Removing the requirement to apply fertiliser would save 40% of the 2009 feeding zone budget and 26% of the total payment cost without any impact on farmer incomes. It is the most obvious cost-saving measure and one which would remove SRDP conflicts albeit with a somewhat reduced population supported.

The feeding zones are important for demonstrating to non-participants that refuges are created under the scheme but the linking of feeding zone and buffer zone areas restricts what types of field farmers can offer. If this 'bullseye' argument for linked feeding and buffer zones were dropped, this would offer scope to reduce buffer zone payment rates because participants would not be constrained to offer feeding zone fields. Buffer zone payment rates could be reduced anyway since there is a surplus of fields offered and compliance with obligations tends not to impact on farm businesses. We would also question the desirability of the obligatory nitrogen fertliser application. Removing it would remove conflicts with SRDP options, and payment rates would be lower (at the organic rate), allowing more fields to enter the scheme.

16.4.11 Conclusion

Loch of Strathbeg LGMS is an efficiently run scheme which participants appreciate. Its scale of operation seems well judged even though it provides only a limited contribution to feeding the Strathbeg goose population. The scheme's main function is to reduce tension and enhance goose habitat by providing spring grazing 'refuges' that give reduced disturbance for goose grazing. Non-participants have the opportunity to apply for entry and benefit indirectly from the refuge creation. It is the only scheme where participation is well below 100% and where fields are carefully selected in order to maximise the number of geese supported. It does provide some support to the SPA. However, its main justification seems to be as a conflict reducing measure.

Whilst it appears a somewhat lower cost scheme than many others, comparisons must be made with care since it only supports geese for a short time period in the spring rather than the whole winter. Costs could be reduced, with minimal impact, by removing the fertiliser payments and obligations. Relaxing the requirement to have linked feeding and buffer zones and allowing the group to select on an (expected) least cost per goose basis would also improve cost effectiveness.

16.5 South Walls Goose Management Scheme

16.5.1 Scheme and objectives

Following a demonstration scheme that started in 1994, a full scheme was launched on South Walls in October 2000 and this was superseded by the current scheme in 2005. Payments are made on a per hectare basis and do not vary with goose density.

The aim has been to concentrate geese on the designated feeding zone using the buffer and scaring zones as additional mechanisms. Unlike other schemes, the feeding zone is located on only two farms. The success of the scheme thus depends largely on satisfactory negotiation with these two farmers.

The objectives in the 2008/09 report are consistent with the original Goose Policy Framework objectives (Scottish Executive 2000):

  • Maintain the wintering population of Barnacle Geese on South Walls.
  • Minimise the agricultural damage and economic loss to the farmers on South Walls.
  • Maximise the value for money of public expenditure.

16.5.2 Goose species and site designations

The scheme is set up to support Greenland Barnacle Geese but there are a small number of Greylag Geese also present. The neighbouring island of Switha, where the Barnacle Goose population of South Walls roosts, is designated an SPA with the Barnacle Goose as the named species.

16.5.3 Monitoring

Weekly Counts of Greenland Barnacle Geese from mid October to early April are carried out using a fixed route along which there are six vantage points from which observations can be made. Efforts are made to ensure that the birds are not double counted. Counts are then summed across the island to provide a total population count and are not expressed at the level of the farm. The peak counts for each month are then averaged across the season to produce an annual population estimate. In addition to the weekly counts, there are daily counts made but these are not complete counts across the island. Moreover daily counts are prone to double counting as these numbers are gathered whilst carrying out scaring activities. No additional information on brood size and productivity is collected.

Figure G7: Population changes in Greenland Barnacle Geese on South Walls, Orkney (based on peak counts- data derived from GSAG 2010).

Figure G7

The peak count of geese in the winter of 2009-2010 was reported as 1,272. Overall the population of Greenland Barnacle Goose is currently very similar to the figures for 2001 but numbers did increase in the winters of 2003-2004 to 2005-2006 (Figure G7).

16.5.4 Zones and payment rates

The demonstration project on South Walls identified a requirement for approximately 50 ha of feeding area and 27 ha of buffer zone. These areas have been extended to cope with an increase in the number of geese over time. The local group decide on the allocation of fields to zones so as to achieve the required areas for goose feeding (Table G29). In addition, there is a substantial scaring zone and the aim in design is to scare birds towards the buffer and feeding zones.

Table G29: Areas and payment rates under the South Walls LGMS in 2009/10

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

Total area on which payments made (ha)

64.26

40

445.64

Payment rate (£ per ha)

280

57

Single payment

100

Payment rates proposed in 2008/09 were £305 per ha (feeding zone) and £60 per ha (buffer zone) but because of constraints imposed by NGMRG on the payment budget, the rates were reduced to those in Table 5.1 (Churchill, 2008). Farmers that have geese but do not have designated feeding or buffer zones can scare and apply for a single payment of £100 per year.

The feeding zone rates are based on a calculation of additional costs and income foregone (Table G30). There is no aftermath grazing or second silage cut and no grazing with sheep. Buffer zone rates are set at 50% of the feeding zone income foregone.

Table G30: Items in the payment calculation for South Walls LGMS

Type of effect on farm income

Item

Additional costs

Reseeding every 4 years instead of 8

Additional fertiliser in spring and autumn to promote grass growth for geese

Income foregone through loss of agricultural production

Grazing loss from cattle including lower sale weight of cattle

Silage loss

16.5.5 Management agreement obligations and compliance monitoring

The management agreement is tightly specified as summarised in Table G31. There are feeding zone obligations on reseeding and fertiliser applications and livestock exclusion.

Table G31: Principal management agreement obligations for South Walls LGMS

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

No scaring

Visual scaring only

Access for SNH scarer

Livestock excluded during winter

Obligatory opportunistic scaring

Reseeding every 4 years

Autumn and spring fertiliser applications specified

The local SGRPID staff undertake 'agricultural monitoring' between October and June. There is informal monitoring of the scaring conditions by the counter/scarer. There appears to be no monitoring of the other management agreement conditions and the group meeting indicated that the fertiliser obligations were not rigorously adhered to. Indeed, one of the two farmers with feeding zone fields is in the two-year conversion period to organic farming and it seems likely that the contract obligation to apply fertiliser may have been broken. However, the group saw little advantage in re-negotiation at this late stage in the contract term (potentially indicating a lack of interest in obtaining VFM and weak regulation).

16.5.6 Uptake and payments to farmers

Of 20 eligible farms on South Walls, 15 entered the scheme in 2008/09 and 2009/10, an uptake rate of 75%. However, those not entering were potential scaring zone farmers. The scheme revolves around two farms which host the feeding zone fields. Payments are mainly for the feeding zone fields (Table G32) and two farmers receive 92.4% of the total payments made.

Table G32: Total Areas and Payments under the South Walls LGMS (2009/10)

Feeding zone

Buffer zone

Scaring zone

Total area on which payments made (ha)

64.26

40

445.64

Total payment made (£)

17,992.80

2,280

1,500

Total forecast 2009/10 expenditure is £27,802 (Table G33). Payments to farmers constitute 78% of the costs, with around £5,000 for the employment of a scarer/counter.

Table G33: Expenditure related to the South Walls LGMS (£ per year)

2008/09
(actual £)

2009/10
(forecast £)

Management payments

19,455.17

21,772.80

Other expenditure specific to scheme (monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

4,833.29

5,000

Administration of scheme ( SNH)

330.46

350

Administration of scheme ( SGRPID)

673.22

680

TOTAL

25,292.14

27,802.80

16.5.7 Shooting

There is no shooting of Barnacle Geese and SGRPID report no licences issued in 2009.

16.5.8 Operation of the scheme

The South Walls scheme largely satisfies the current national policy framework objectives (Scottish Executive 2005). It is a scheme that concentrates on achieving conservation objectives by providing an undisturbed feeding area for geese to which geese can be scared.

The committee were quite satisfied with the scheme but some farmers were dissatisfied with the distribution of support. It is to some degree an exclusive scheme that concentrates support on two farms that receive payments while other farmers are supported primarily through scaring. Evidence from the count data indicate that many scaring and non-scheme farms have substantial numbers of geese and presumably corresponding damage.

There is no goose officer but the scheme is too small scale to merit one.

16.5.9 Cost effectiveness

South walls is a fixed rate per hectare payment scheme. In 2008/09 the average count was 1,106 Barnacle Geese. Applying this to the 2009/10 payments gives a cost per goose of £19.70 per goose (£17.60 per goose in 2008/09). Total 2009/10 costs are forecast to be around £29 per goose. These data include geese counted on non-scheme farms (including a reserve) and therefore underestimate the true costs of providing habitat under the scheme. SNH state that "In the last few years it has been apparent that significant numbers of geese have spent time in other locations so it may be appropriate to review the allocation of feeding areas according to their distribution". The 2008/09 report indicates that only 35% of the counts were located on feeding and buffer areas and only 84% on scheme farms. A more realistic 2009/10 cost per bird is thus around £30 per goose. The cost per goose on feeding and buffer areas is very much higher because only a proportion of geese are recorded on these areas.

There is a case for removing the fertiliser element from the budget and contract since there is no clear evidence that there is compliance. In addition, the contract and payment rates need to be adjusted to include an organic option. This would reduce the feeding zone cost by 27% (based on the 2008/09 budget) and total costs by around 17%.

Although the £100 scaring zone payment might appear unnecessary, the group consider it important to the scheme in terms of inclusiveness, SNH access and information provision.

16.5.10 Conclusions

This is a focussed exclusive scheme which has as its priority the maintenance of the wintering population of Barnacle Geese and overall it appears to have been largely successful in doing so. The scheme has the merit of simplicity but its effectiveness is slightly questionable given that the geese spend the much of their time away from the current feeding and buffer fields within the scheme. The scheme could be viewed as inequitable since some farms on South Walls have sizeable Barnacle Goose numbers but receive minimal payments. But it is not clear how many of these farms would be willing to participate in payments for not scaring.

An alternative, more equitable model and one potentially more cost effective, would be to open the scheme to all and select the least cost per goose fields for participation. The conversion to organic of the major participant in the scheme will in any case force changes on the scheme and provide an opportunity for greater participation. We also suggest removal of the fertiliser element in the scheme.

There is a case for converting the scheme to a simple set of SNH management agreements in order to reduce administrative costs. It would also remove any concerns there may be about the key recipients of payments within the scheme being those who also determine policy and payment rates. However, keeping the scheme within the orbit of the NGMRG would avoid fragmentation of information and responsibility.

16.6 Tiree and Coll Goose Management Scheme

16.6.1 Scheme and objectives

Goose schemes operated under the SNH Natural Care programme from 2003 on Coll and 2004 on Tiree. The current scheme began in 2005/06. Whilst its objectives are now those of the national policy framework (Scottish Executive 2005), the scheme is focussed on control of damage by Greylag Geese. Unlike most other goose schemes, it does not make payments to farmers/crofters but relies on a scaring strategy to control damage, including lethal scaring (shooting).

The scheme objectives are as follows (more specific aims given the in 2005 LGMG annual report appear to have been dropped):

• Meet the UK's nature conservation obligations for native Greylag Geese.

• Minimise the economic loss to farmers and crofters on the islands of Tiree and Coll.

• Maximise the value for money of public expenditure.

16.6.2 Goose species and site designations

The scheme is designed primarily to reduce damage caused by the resident Greylag Geese but the islands also host winter populations of Greenland Barnacle and White-fronted Geese. Both Coll and Tiree have SPAs with Greenland White-fronted Geese and Barnacle Geese as named Annex 1 species.

RSPB expressed some concern that the Greylag Geese may be negatively impacting upon other valued species in the Western Isles by competing for habitat, both during the breeding season and in winter (see Section 16.7.3).

16.6.3 Monitoring

Whole island counts of Greylag Geese on Coll and Tiree are undertaken in August during the post-breeding period. In addition, counts are also carried out from November through to March. Since these later counts also collate information on wintering Greenland White-fronted and Barnacle Geese, the dates are co-ordinated with those set by the Greenland White-fronted Goose study.

Standardised routes with vantage points are used on both islands but coverage of Coll is likely to be less comprehensive due to lack of road access to large parts of the island. On Tiree, information is collected on a field by field basis and numbers of geese are then tallied for the whole island. On Coll, count data are collected at the level of individual fields within the reserve but outwith the reserve, the area is broken down into the units of farm or locally known regions. Survey work is currently carried out by RSPB locally based staff (the post on Tiree is partly funded by SNH). Historical data are available from the winter of 1984/1985. The peak count in each season is then summed for Coll and Tiree to produce a population estimate for Coll and Tiree combined (see Figure G8). Information on age ratios is also collected.

Figure G8: Population changes of Greylag Geese on Coll (white triangles), Tiree (grey triangles) and for Coll/Tiree combined (black triangles) based on peak counts (data provided by RSPB).

Figure G8

Figure G9: Population changes of Greenland White-fronted Geese on Coll (white triangles), Tiree (grey triangles) and for Coll/Tiree combined (black triangles) based on peak counts (data provided by RSPB).

Figure G9

Figure G10: Population changes of Greenland Barnacle Geese on Coll (white diamonds), Tiree (grey diamonds) and for Coll/Tiree combined (black diamonds) based on peak counts (data provided by RSPB).

Figure G10

Native Greylag Goose numbers on Coll and Tiree have increased from 2,351 individuals in 1995/1996 to 4,990 individuals by the winter of 2006/2007 (see Figure G8). Numbers have fallen somewhat since then however to 4,091 (2009/2010). This has been suggested to be as a direct result of increased shooting pressure. Most of the Greylag Geese are located on Tiree.

Although the scheme does not target species other than the Greylag Goose, there have been notable changes in other populations. Barnacle Goose numbers have increased from 2,168 individuals in 1995 to a peak in 2006/2007 of 6,779 individuals. Numbers of Barnacles have declined subsequently over the last three years to 4,609 birds (see Figure G10). Numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese on Coll and Tiree combined have declined from 1999 onwards, almost halving the number of individuals to 1,253 by the winter of 2009/2010. Although there was a small increase in numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese in the winter of 2004/2005, just after the implementation of the scheme, numbers have continued to decrease overall (see Figure G9).

16.6.4 Damage

On Coll, damage (as reported during our local interviews) appears relatively restricted and is managed by scaring. However, on Tiree, local stakeholders informed us that Greylags cause significant damage to crops and grass on crofts. In spring, reported damage relates to loss of early bite and a reduction in grass and silage yields. Later in the summer, cereal and silage crops are said to be vulnerable to flattening by geese. This damage is thought to have: contributed to many crofters/farmers moving out of grain production; necessitated more frequent re-seeding; and contributed to reducing incomes and the overall viability of crofting and farming. There are no estimates available of the total cost of lost production but in the interviews this was stated to be severe. The impacts are recognised as potentially contributing to knock-on negative impacts on wider biodiversity, as crofters abandon grain production and change their traditional crofting systems (which themselves are acknowledged to benefit other species of conservation concern e.g. Corncrake).

The Tiree and Coll scheme does not include payments to crofters because the main concern is with reducing damage to cereal and silage crops, which are a critical component of the crofting system. Payments to create protected feeding zones would, it is considered, contribute to the demise of crofting in these zones.

There are also negative impacts of geese on other environmental agreements. A number of farmers/crofters have specific agreements for Corncrake management, which require delays in the cutting of hay/silage. This creates opportunities for Greylags to damage these crops, which are being harvested later, through trampling and eating, hence reducing the income from effective Corncrake management.

The winter populations of Greenland Barnacle and White-fronted Geese do not appear to cause damage - or at least any damage is viewed as minor by comparison with that caused by the Greylags.

16.6.5 Zones

Scaring. buffer and roost zones are defined and mapped and are largely unchanged from year to year. There are no designated feeding zones but geese are scared towards the buffer areas and roosts. Originally a number of part-time scarers were employed to scare in the scaring zones but for the last two years two full-time scarers have been employed.

16.6.6 Scaring and shooting

The scheme aims to limit damage by scaring and lethal scaring (shooting). Two people are currently employed to scare and counting is undertaken by RSPB under contract. The aim of the scheme has been to manage geese by population reduction and by scaring into zoned areas. Scaring focuses on the periods when resident geese are most damaging to crops (April/May, July/August) and a wide range of methods and equipment are used.

The scaring effort is thought to be as effective as it can be within the resources available. The case for additional investment in scaring is not strong since there are limits to what scaring can achieve. The more effective way of controlling damage is to reduce the resident population by shooting or other methods.

No licences have been issued for shooting Greenland White-fronted Geese or Barnacle Geese. However, there is considerable lethal shooting of Greylags. Argyll Estates (the single landowner owning all the shooting rights on Tiree) hosts commercial shooting parties in the open season. The estate is thought to shoot as many as is practical ( ca 1,100 shot in 2009) and there is no financial incentive to exceed this. The LGMG considered that there was little scope for crofters/farmers to shoot more because not all had shotguns, and shooting geese requires considerable skill, not easily acquired. In 2009, the estate was granted a closed season, whole-island licence for shooting 600 geese on Tiree, an increase of 200 on the previous year. However the estate did apply to shoot 800 geese, so it appears that closed season shooting is being limited by advice from SNH to SGRPID.

SNH have indicated "concern that the PVA model predicted that continuing to shoot Greylags on Tiree at the current rate of 400 birds in the closed season plus 1200 in the open season, would result in quite a rapid decline in population". This underpins the cautious approach adopted by SNH to closed season bag limits.

Since Greylag carcasses may not be sold there is no commercial value in closed season shooting.

16.6.7 Expenditure

Expenditure on the scheme of £35,400 mainly comprised salaries for full-time scarers with small amounts on goose counting and administration (Table G34).

Table G34: Expenditure related to the Tiree and Coll LGMS (£ per year)

2009 (£)

Other expenditure specific to scheme (monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

33,000

Administration of scheme ( SNH)

1,200

Administration of scheme ( SGRPID)

1,200

TOTAL

35,400

16.6.8 Basis and operation of the scheme

The evidence suggests that scaring under the Tiree and Coll scheme is now well organised and is achieving its potential. It is appreciated by farmers and crofters as contributing to the solution of what is perceived as a very serious problem, especially on Tiree. Nevertheless there is considerable discontent amongst farmers and crofters that the Greylag population has not been contained and continues to cause major damage to farming and crofting activities, as well as perceived negative impacts to wider biodiversity (Section16.6.4). There is a consensus amongst a number of interests that the Greylag population is substantially too large and that this fundamental issue remains unresolved. This itself results in tension within the LGMG.

The scheme is therefore not resolving the evident conflict caused by the Greylag Geese. There is much feeling that the conflict can only be resolved through reduction in the population of geese. Lethal scaring is used and closed season licences are issued. There does appear to be some scope for increasing the number of closed season licences granted. The potential to increase shooting by crofters and farmers is limited by ownership of shotguns, time and skill.

It is understood that the LGMG in 2010 had initially agreed an egg oiling initiative operated by crofters without remuneration. This was subsequently withdrawn when Argyll Estates offered to carry out the work in their own time and meet the associated costs.

16.6.9 Other relevant measures

A consortium led by RSPB (2009a,b) has successfully obtained LIFE funding for 'Conserving machair habitats and species in a suite of Scottish Natura sites'. The project embraces the Natura sites on Coll and Tiree. The full implications of the project for goose management are not clear at this early stage, but to achieve a number of the objectives will require goose damage to be addressed. The project will also bring new funding albeit for a limited period and with it the potential for a larger role in goose management for its sponsors.

Also of relevance and related to the LIFE programme is an agreement signed in January 2009 between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ( CnES), SNH and RSPB Scotland ( CnES, 2009) that recognises "that a serious problem exists with the detrimental impacts of Greylag Geese on crofting agriculture in the Outer Hebrides". The partners have agreed that better targeted and resourced measures, with the aim of delivering good agricultural conditions, and sustainable goose populations, would be an integral part of the solution to this problem. They will work together to develop a Forward Strategy for goose population management so as to manage goose numbers in such a way as to ensure that the conservation status of the resident Greylag Goose is not protected at the expense of other important natural heritage interests, and of the agricultural activities that have created and are necessary to maintain not only the livelihoods of those managing the land but also those same natural heritage interests. Given recent population trends, such management will include goose deterrent zones, refuge areas and lethal and non-lethal measures. The aim will be to bring goose numbers into equilibrium with these other interests and thereafter to maintain the population at an agreed sustainable level.

16.6.10 Cost effectiveness

The cost of the Tiree and Coll scheme per Greylag Goose is around £8-9 per year. The evidence suggests that the current scheme is cost effective in scaring and assists in reducing social tension through scaring (including lethal scaring). It is not clear that funding can be reduced or made more cost-effective without a loss of output.

In terms of managing the population at a sustainable level, shooting and egg oiling/pricking are the main instruments potentially available. Experience of egg oiling gained from a pilot in the Uists is also of relevance to Tiree and Coll (see Section 16.7.6 below).

16.6.11 Conclusion

The scheme appears to be effective in its scaring activities but scaring alone has not been able to resolve completely the underlying conflicts between Greylag damage and farming/crofting activities. Overall the impression gained was that the LGMG lacked cohesion and a sense of common involvement in strategy and organisation. This may in part reflect the frustration felt by some members at the group's inability to resolve the basic issues.

Both increases in closed season licences and measures to facilitate egg oiling are possible ways forward in terms of further managing the goose population to an acceptable level. The agreement between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, SNH and RSPB Scotland coupled with the recent LIFE funding offers a possible route for addressing the problems of goose management on Tiree and Coll. At this stage it is not clear what measures will be introduced under these initiatives but for coherence any future SG goose management policy will need to take these into account.

16.7 Uist Greylag Goose Management Scheme

This scheme covers all the islands from Barra north to the Sound of Harris (North and South Uist, Barra, Benbecula and Berneray). There are around 300 crofters who grow crops on machair croftland on the west coast of the islands and there is a long standing conflict between geese and crofting. A local goose group (Uist Greylag Goose Committee) was set up in 1990. In 2002, a Uist Summer Scheme was approved by NGMRG and this has been followed largely unchanged by the current scheme. The scheme has adopted the national objectives (Scottish Executive 2005) and has a designated goose officer. It is essentially a scaring and shooting regime focussed on cereal crops with the aim of by protecting cereals from Greylag Goose damage, thus enabling the crofters to save Uist corn seed, which is integral to successful cropping of the machair and the survival of its associated biodiversity.

More recently, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ( CnES) (2009) highlighted the issue of increasing goose numbers in Lewis and Harris. An agreement has been made between CnES, RSPB and SNH to work together to develop a strategy for goose population management (see 16.6 above).

16.7.1 Goose species and designations

The geese on the Uists comprise resident Greylags, and migratory Barnacle and White-fronted Geese. There is a strong opinion amongst crofters that numbers are still increasing and geese are becoming more dispersed, expanding into new areas.

North Uist Machair and Islands (4,876 ha) is an SPA with Barnacle Goose as a named species.

16.7.2 Monitoring

Whole island counts of native Greylag Geese are carried out biannually over the islands of the Uists in the months of August and February of each year. Although the monitoring was initially carried out for Greylag Geese, the numbers of Greenland Barnacle, Greenland White-front and Pink-footed Geese are also now recorded in February. Spring and autumn counts are reported separately and the latter are generally accepted to represent the maximum number of birds for that year. Counts are carried out using a mixture of SNH staff and volunteers.

Figure G11: Numbers of Native Greylag Geese on the Uists (grey bars= February counts and black bars = August counts; data provided by GSAG).

Figure G11

Overall the numbers of Greylag Geese have increased since 1986, when the population was estimated at just over 1000 birds. More recently, a peak of 6,440 geese was recorded in 2007/2008 but numbers appear to have fallen slightly since (Figure G11).

Figure G12: Number of Greenland Barnacle Geese counted in February in the Uists

Figure G12

In 2010, the numbers of Greenland Barnacle Geese were recorded at 2,392 birds. The numbers have increased overall since 1994 but numbers have fluctuated since 2000, with a peak in 2006 of more than 4,500 birds (Figure G12).

16.7.3 Impacts

There are stated impacts throughout the year and the species responsible varies between winter and summer. The crofters list a huge range of impacts including loss of winter grazing, fouling of silage and water troughs, eating of early growth on reseeds, cereals and in-bye grazing, summer grazing and silage, and cereal crops. The 2009 report to NGMRG considers only the impact of Greylags on cereal crops, which is believed to have contributed to crofters moving from stooking corn crops towards arable silage which can be cut earlier. This has caused a shortage of 'Uist' corn seed 64 that is especially suited to machair soils. Many crofters are understood to have ceased cereal growing or reducing their areas because of damage by geese.

Changes to cropping patterns on the Uists are understood to be reducing floral diversity, rendering SSSIs in unfavourable condition, and impacting on a range of species of current conservation concern that are dependent on traditional agricultural practices (e.g. Great Yellow bumblebee; Corn Bunting; Twite) are reported to be in decline. The increasing goose numbers are understood to be one of the drivers of increasingly early harvesting of arable crops on the machair but geese are certainly not the only factor driving these changes. There are known to have been concurrent changes in a range of farming practices (agricultural system-level changes) and in the crofting community itself, for example: the timing of availability of contractors for harvesting that are shared amongst crofts; the introduction of new mainland seed mixes; switch to large bale production rather than stooking; ageing of the crofting population; and so on.

16.7.4 Zones

Within the Uists scheme, the whole of the cropped machair area is classified as a scaring zone, and adjacent areas of reseed, moor, or marsh are seen as refuges. Additional feeding/refuge areas are not needed. Payments were at one stage made for refuge areas but the LGMG found that this did not prove cost-effective and the payments were dropped.

16.7.5 Scaring and shooting

Scaring and shooting are the mechanisms used in the scheme. Eight scarers/shooters are employed each with responsibility for a locality and the principal activity is to scare birds off cereal crops including arable silage. 1,606 birds were reported to have been shot in 2009. The extent to which scarers are employed to scare birds off grassland is unclear. No licences have been requested or granted to shoot Barnacle Geese.

The 2009 scheme report to NGMRG deemed the intervention a success and stated that a high level of protection had been provided on the Uist machairs. It seems, however, that in some areas the seed crop was almost completely destroyed, and calls for a goose cull were made in the local media.

Restrictions on shooting rights are an issue in the Uists. The shooting rights lie with each estate not the crofter unless the crofter has purchased the croft (which few have). To shoot, a crofter must obtain permission from the estate. Individual crofters can apply for closed season licences (which can be made readily available by SGRPID) but still need the permission of the estate to shoot. The estates engage in commercial shooting and may not give permission for open season shooting by crofters if this conflicts with their commercial shooting interest. This difference in interests is difficult to resolve. The extent to which crofters would shoot or employ others to shoot were they to have shooting rights is unclear however.

The LGMG appear to unanimously support the removal of the special level of protection afforded to Greylag Goose during the breeding season (removal from Schedule 1, Part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act; see Table 2.1). Greylag Geese are only on Schedule 1 if they are in the Western Isles or the North West of Scotland and this is considered an anomaly. Some stakeholders (the crofting interests) would like the further step of placing Greylag Goose on a general licence to be taken, which would remove the administrative costs of licence applications but not remove the constraints imposed by shooting rights on the Uists. Thus they believe that general licensing would not itself allow management of the population to an acceptable level but rather further open season shooting or other management measures would also be needed. They also believe that a change in legislation on the sale of goose carcasses could possibly stimulate more shooting.

16.7.6 Egg oiling project

In 2009 the group undertook an egg oiling project under licence in North Uist on moorland where the geese breed. Details are given in UBGGMS (2009). Two staff were employed to locate nests and apply oil. Crofters were also given the opportunity to take part but only one crofter applied for a licence and did so.

The report indicates that the total cost was £16.06 per bird removed by egg oiling but this was considered to be a minimum becase it was based on easily accessible nesting areas, no visits to islands, and one visit to each site. If egg oiling were to be adopted more widely as a means of managing the Greylag population and hence reducing damage to the machair corn crop, it would be neccesary to oil a high proportion of eggs, which would be upwards of 1,000 nests. This would entail a massive scaling up of effort with much more labour and boat work required, which would escalate the costs dramatically. A comparison is made with the cost of lethal scaring but since the scarers are engaged in both scaring and shooting, these are maximum figures. The report considers the 2008 cost of £27.65 per goose as representative. From Table G35 below, the 2009 cost of shooting (and scaring) was £25.20 per bird 65 . Removing the scaring element from this would suggest that oiling and shooting are not too dissimilar in cost. However, given the current constraints on shooting in the Uists, oiling may best be seen as supplementary, with both techniques having a possible place in effective goose population management.

Oiling is an operation that requires considerable organisation but local resources could be made available to undertake this. Current experience suggests that crofters are not prepared to engage in oiling without the provision of further incentives to do so, however, which may not be surprising given the small benefit that any one individual might see for their effort if undertaking egg oiling in isolation. It might be possible to facilitate some form of coordinated community egg-oiling action by providing limited financial incentives (e.g. expenses for local volunteer coordinators or by linking the work to a subsidised end-of-season social event, as was traditional for cooperative crofter activity in the past) but such possibilities have yet to be explored in any detail. This apart, paying staff to undertake oiling is also a feasible option to be considered further.

16.7.7 Expenditure

Expenditure on the Uists scheme of £64,193 consists of £40,522 on salaries for scarers, travelling and equipment, and administrative costs (which include the cost of the goose officer) (Table G35).

Table G35: Expenditure related to the Uists LGMS (£ per year)

2009 (£)

Other expenditure specific to scheme (monitoring, scaring, equipment, travel)

40,522.00

Administration of scheme including goose officer ( SGRPID, SNH)

23,671.00

TOTAL

64,193.00

16.7.8 Other relevant measures

The consortium led by RSPB (2009a,b) which has obtained 4-year LIFE funding for 'Conserving machair habitats and species in a suite of Scottish Natura sites' was described above (see Coll and Tiree section 16.6.9). This project is relevant to the machair areas in Lewis and Harris, and it is understood that it will provide funding for the Uist LGMG for the next four years. The administration of the scheme has now been taken over by RSPB. The agreement signed in January 2009 between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ( CnES), SNH and RSPB Scotland ( CnES, 2009) is also relevant (Section 16.6.9).

16.7.9 Cost effectiveness

This Uists scheme is focussed on scaring, including lethal scaring, of Greylags off cereal crops, and the LGMG consider the scheme has been reasonably successful in achieving this. However it admits that the scheme is "failing to meet crofters expectations, and there is widespread disgruntlement that there is no protection offered to help control goose damage to other parts of crofters holdings".

The cost per Greylag is around £10-11 per bird. This relatively low cost reflects the absence of payments to participants, for which there is no demand. The scaring programme is clearly not 100% effective and additional input or greater efficiency is desirable. A credible method of reducing the population to tolerable levels is sought by stakeholders in the Uists, for which additional funding is thought to be required. The change to LIFE funding is expected to deliver such additional funding. Based on this expectation, the LGMG undertook to try egg oiling again in 2010 and to increase the level of scaring in an attempt to improve its effectiveness.

16.7.10 Conclusion

Current policy has been partially successful in protecting the cereal crops in the Uists but has failed to address all the concerns of crofters. There is considerable discontent amongst crofters that not enough is being done to manage the size of the goose population and thereby address a problem that is likely to increase in future.

The cost per goose from the present scheme is relatively low because there are no payments to crofters, the intervention being focussed on scaring. The central policy measures do little to deal with damage by migratory species (particularly Barnacle Geese), although SNH operate a small number of separate Management Agreements with farms to make provision for Barnacle Geese on North Uist.

There is some uncertainty over the level of responsibility and control NGMRG will have over the LGMG during the LIFE project, since the LIFE project will be controlling finance. The new funding arrangement appears to present a good opportunity for partnership between the various interests and the NGMRG could maintain an important advisory role (e.g. in relation to any legislative changes proposed by the LGMG).