Goose management policy in Scotland: 2010 review

Review of goose management policy in Scotland conducted in 2010.

10 Appendix A: Implementation of the 2005 Review recommendations


2005 recommendations

Recommendation number




The fundamental objectives of the national policy framework for goose management in Scotland should be to:

  • Meet the UK's nature conservation obligations for geese, within the context of wider biodiversity objectives.
  • Minimise economic losses experienced by farmers and crofters as a result of the presence of geese.
  • Maximise the value for money of public expenditure.

This is accepted. Some LGMGs do not formally state these as objectives in their annual reports preferring to highlight specific local objectives which they perceive as more directly relevant to the context. However, there is no indication that any groups decline to support the objectives.


Given the vulnerability of the Greenland white-fronted goose population to additional mortality, there should be a presumption against a change in the protected status of the population and against the issue of licences for shooting to prevent serious agricultural damage. There appear to be no scientific reasons for changing the current management regimes across Scotland.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.3


The new PVA modelling has shown the vulnerability of the Svalbard barnacle goose population to additional mortality. Due to this there should be a presumption against a change in the protected status of the population. There is no scientific reason to alter the current management regime for Svalbard barnacle geese in Scotland.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.1


Current levels of licensed shooting of Greenland barnacle geese on Islay (c. 500 birds per annum) do not appear to be having a negative effect on population size. There appear to be no scientific reasons for changing the current management regimes across Scotland.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.3


Measures should be taken in Scotland to adapt the shooting take of Icelandic greylag geese to sustainable levels. These measures should address open season bags and closed season licences. International collaboration is needed with development of adequate tools for the regular assessment of population size, productivity and hunting bags.

PVA analyses done (Trinder 2010) but sustainable shooting levels not highlighted and closed season licence bag numbers not included. Population monitoring of Icelandic greylag geese now co-ordinates counts with non UK countries (Mitchell 2009). Accurate hunting bag data for the UK is still outstanding. UK productivity estimates only. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.4


There is no scientific reason to vary current management arrangements for pink-footed geese in Scotland.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.6


No alteration to the protected status for Taiga bean geese is required.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.7


No alteration to the protective regime for brent geese is required.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.8


Canada geese may continue to be hunted during the open season, or shot under licence where there is serious damage to agriculture.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.5.9


To enable improved monitoring of the conservation status of the key goose populations, a detailed five year research and monitoring programme should be developed during 2005, and further population viability analyses should be commissioned in 2009-10 to inform consideration of national goose policy at the next five year review.

GSAG identified priorities for national goose monitoring in 2009 which focussed population and breeding success estimates. No priority was given to ringing to provide survival and movement between subpopulation estimates estimates ( GSAG 2009). Population viability analyses were commissioned for Greenland White-fronted and Icelandic Greylag geese (Trinder 2010 a, b) along with analyses of future trends of the native Greylag (Trinder et al. 2009). Future recommendations are given in 2.7.3


Further work requires to be done on developing robust mechanisms for obtaining reliable hunting bag statistics. This work should be coordinated with efforts being undertaken at a UK level.

Report commissioned by DEFRA/ SG to look at the scope of developing a voluntary scheme but the recommendations have not been taken forward. No developments with respect to the possible implementation of a mandatory scheme.


Stronger links should be developed with other goose range States in order to explore and facilitate multilateral agreements relating to specific issues, including international research and monitoring and information-sharing. In particular, to tackle issues relating to the conservation status of the Greenland white fronted goose population.

Development of the draft Single Species International Action Plan for the Greenland White-fronted goose between but formal endorsement by AEWA not due to until 2012. No other multilateral agreements relating to goose species occurring in Scotland.


No amendment to national or international legislation is required at present. Future changes to legislation should, however, be considered if monitoring of goose populations indicates that an increased or decreased level of protection (consistent with international obligations) would be appropriate.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained.


All licence applications to kill or take geese to prevent serious agricultural damage should demonstrate that non-lethal scaring is not working and must be assessed in the light of advice provided by SNH. All licences issued should clearly specify the species, the maximum number of birds to be taken, the location where shooting may be used and the non-lethal crop protection methods to be deployed before lethal shooting may be carried out. Licence reports should be provided by the licensee, detailing numbers of each species taken.

Evidence that non lethal scaring is not effective appears to be based on subjective judgements rather than quantitative data. The conditions of the licence appear to comply with the recommendation. There is an issues of a small number of licence holders failing to submit reports of bag numbers however (see section 2.2.6)


No change is required to current legislative arrangements, which do not allow for the sale of carcasses of wild goose quarry species or of geese killed under licence. The situation should however remain open to potential future review.

Fully implemented as status quo maintained. Recent changes and future recommendations are given in 2.7.5


Where geese are making use of agricultural land, initial responsibility for minimising damage to crops and grass rests with the farmer or crofter, who should take appropriate steps by scaring and, where appropriate and legally possible, shooting geese.

This policy recommendation is adopted within the NGMRG and within LGMGs. However, if farmers and crofters are under no obligation to implement it.


Where this is impossible, either because of the numbers of geese or because the necessary level of scaring and any associated shooting could not be undertaken due to the protection status of the population, a management scheme should be considered. (

This recommendation is ambiguous since it does not specify the body responsible for considering the scheme or what consideration means.


For populations of geese requiring special protection, the main aims of management schemes should be to simultaneously maintain the viability of the population and minimise the agriculture damage in a manner consistent with the conservation objectives.

This recommendation is implemented in practice by local schemes by local schemes although it may not be formally included in their reports.


There should be a general presumption against management schemes for goose populations not requiring special protection. However, such schemes may be appropriate on areas immediately surrounding large, established roosts, where these form part of properly managed reserves and significant damage to crops and grass is caused by heavy concentrations of geese on agricultural land. Co-ordinated management of geese in areas (such as the Uists) where numbers and densities are lower may also be necessary as the impacts on agriculture and aspects of the natural heritage may be very significant. The main aim of such schemes for populations not requiring special protection will be to minimise agricultural damage.

This recommendation describes current policy as delivered by NGMRG. Since it approves (or does not approve) schemes the recommendation is implemented.


That local goose management groups should be set up to develop and review LGMS proposals in those priority areas where current management techniques are either insufficient or impractical to manage over wintering goose populations effectively.

There is no mechanism to deliver on this recommendation which is therefore ineffective. It is not clear where responsibility for setting up such schemes lies.


It should be open to the NGMRG to recommend that Ministers re-approve established schemes for a period of up to 5 years, in order to provide greater stability and promote longer-term planning. Such re-approvals should be subject to a requirement for at least one mid-term review of the design and operation of the schemes, as well as to other appropriate safeguards, including in particular a requirement for annual reporting and for evidence that the scheme complies with the terms of the original approval. Where a scheme is to be discontinued, appropriate notice should be given and withdrawal managed in such a way as to minimize disruption.

Ministers have approved this recommendation and it operates in practice.


Each local group should be responsible for implementing, overseeing and regularly reviewing its scheme so as to ensure that: the scheme properly supports the achievement of national policy objectives, including the achievement of value for money; and is fully compliant with the terms under which the scheme was approved.

Each local scheme states that it has implemented this recommendation despite not always formally stating the national policy objectives in their reports. Progress in all schemes is regularly reviewed.


Local groups should apply common standards of good practice in relation to matters such as scheme design, payment rates, monitoring work, the development of scaring and crop-protection strategies and the transparency and accountability of scheme operations. To assist in the evaluation of the performance of local schemes, all running costs, including all relevant administrative costs incurred by SNH and SEERAD, should be recorded and reported on in a manner which is consistent across all schemes.

This recommendation cannot be implemented in full because it fails to define what common standards of good practice are. Also it is not clear how consistency in reporting is to be achieved since no responsibility for implementation is given.


Local goose management groups should establish clear objectives for their local scheme, and should formally adopt all three fundamental objectives of the national policy framework. In addition, a well-designed local scheme should normally exhibit the following core features:

• a clear scheme structure based on the identification of roosts (where present) and

the use of defined feeding and scaring zones. Buffer areas and zones covering land in transitional management may also be relevant in some cases.

• a formal, properly co-ordinated, and publicly-available crop protection and scaring strategy for the scheme area as a whole. Where appropriate, the scheme should include arrangements for the purchase, distribution and management of scaring equipment.

• a scientifically-robust monitoring programme which is appropriate to the particular local circumstances.

• a transparent method for calculating appropriate payment rates for different zones, based on known levels of agricultural damage and the management activities required within each zone. Payments may vary from the standard national rate, provided there is a clear local justification for such variation.

• satisfactory arrangements for the regular review of payments and payment rates, to ensure that scheme members are not being over- or under-paid and that overall value for money is being delivered.

All LGMGs claim to have implemented this recommendation. However, this has not occurred in all cases because of local conditions. In some schemes 'zones' are defined by goose density not by the group, Payment systems were not always transparent. Payment rates were reviewed but only, it appeared, when costs had increased. No revisions to monitoring programme protocols for LGMS.


To ensure that the management of local schemes is accountable and transparent, and that arrangements for financial management comply with public funding requirements, local management groups should normally be chaired by a local SEERAD officer and be supported administratively by local SNH staff. Operational decisions, and in particular decisions with financial implications, should be taken by persons who are publicly accountable.

This recommendation has been implemented but we doubt if this itself provides an adequate form of scrutiny and audit.


Local schemes should be encouraged to develop innovative proposals, for example, by actively examining the potential for alternative methods of scaring, crop protection or habitat management (such as, extensification, scaring, crop protection, dispersal, protective fencing, sacrificial crops or the provision of alternative feeding areas).

Schemes have shown a degree of innovation relation to scaring and new ideas have been introduced. This has been facilitated where groups have the same chairman or secretary.


Best practice and lessons learned, including in relation to effective scaring and crop protection should be disseminated across schemes, as well as to land managers who are not members of local goose management schemes.

It is not clear how dissemination is supposed to take place since staff from different groups rarely meet. In most schemes advice is offered to farmers outside the schemes by SNH staff or contracted persons.


SNH should continue to act as the funding channel, and should be responsible for the funding and financial administration of approved local goose management schemes.



During the next review period SEERAD, SNH and the NGMRG should continue to give consideration to the most appropriate methods for funding goose management against the changing context of agricultural support.

We understand that this has been an on going process without any formal documentation. The individual stakeholders have submitted their views to the review.


The National Goose Management Review Group ( NGMRG) should continue operation until 2010, at which time its remit should be reviewed. Its role should continue to (a) ensure that local goose management scheme applications accurately implement the NPF at local level; (b) conduct a multi-disciplinary policy review in 2010 to ensure that national goose management arrangements continue to complement the UK's national and international nature conservation obligations for geese, minimise economic losses to farmers and crofters, and maximise the value-for money of public expenditure; and (c) oversee arrangements for monitoring of protected geese populations.



Research should be carried out to assess the positive and negative impacts of local goose management schemes upon biodiversity and the sustainable development of local communities. This should include consideration of the effect of payments to natural heritage interests, including payments to local goose management schemes, and their effect on the local economy.

It is not clear who is responsible for implementation of this recommendation. We are not aware of any new specific research on the impacts of payments in goose management schemes on the local economy and local biodiversity.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit

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