Deer Management Strategic Board minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 13 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Donald Henderson - SG NRD (Chair)
  • Robbie Kernahan - NatureScot
  • Simon Hodgson - FLS
  • Grant Moir - CNPA
  • Alan Hampson - Scottish Forestry 
  • Simon Jones - LLTNPA
  • Donald Fraser - NatureScot
  • Hugh Dignon - SG NRD
  • Sam Turner - SG NRD
  • Robyn McCormack - SG NRD (Secretariat)

Items and actions

Welcome and review (note of meeting – 7 March 2022)

Donald welcomed everyone to the group, introducing himself as the new Deputy Director for the Scottish Government Natural Resources Division, working alongside Cate Turton.

Note of 7 March agreed.

Actions from previous meeting – 7th March

  • it was agreed that work would continue to develop and refine this leadership role. A face to face meet with site visit in May would be arranged before the next Board meeting in June. Face to face site visit – 25 July
  • the Board agreed to further develop and refine the vision statement at the next leadership session, crystallising the vision, binding the Board and providing clarity of intent. Discussed at meeting – in review
  • it was agreed that workstream scope (commission) and membership should be progressed so that the workstream initiation meetings and outline priorities and work plans could be developed in April. Complete
  • to consider resource needs for workstream delivery for next Board meeting. Added to paper
  • the Board agreed to develop a communications and stakeholder engagement plan bringing together key messages, aligning from the vision and objectives. Specifically outlining year 1 opportunities, supported by FAQ on key topics. Discussed at meeting – in review

Agenda item b - i - Strategic Deer Group - vision

The Scottish Government introduced the paper reiterating that some of the issues relating to the paper are covered by the previous action points. The paper had been updated since the previous meeting.

The paper set out the approach, some of the outcomes which needed to be achieved and what resourcing was required to achieve these.

NatureScot set out how points were picked up since the last meeting, including the context in which the board is operating is clear but advised a comms approach should be embedded and that key outputs could be discussed further in person.


  • the group agreed it would be useful to include a project planning timetable, including key milestones until 2024 would be useful. NatureScot to work on this when their project manager is in post

The group agreed strong clear communication was required to deliver the vision, a new framework and legislation will drive chance and the governance would need to be redefined. Populating the programme with resource would help achieve this.

Agenda item b – ii – workstream overview

The broad context of the workstream overview has been set out and the membership and terms of reference has been agreed.


  • the group agreed it would be useful for someone from ARE to be on the Project Board and also the workstreams. SG to pursue a representative that can attend

Agenda item b – iii – Government and ministerial priorities

Key thing to update was the change in portfolio ownership from Ms McAllan to Ms Slater. Deer Management is a is a priority for the Scottish Government and Ministers.

Ministers were keen to explore the community benefits and involvement when considering deer management priorities. Including support for the venison market and the long term vision for Scotland’s venison, board members agreed to consider ways in which this can be supported alongside delivering deer management priorities.

Board considered the importance of balancing increased community involvement and our work to ensure that as we take forward work to modernise deer management we do so in the context of green recovery, highlighting the need to bring people with us.

Agenda item c – update from workstream leads

Legislation workstream

NatureScot provided an update on the legislation workstream and advised it was important to stick to timetables, in order that the Board doesn’t lose the slot for drafting new legislation.

They have a broad timeline to meet the legislative deadline. The group are currently looking at not just implementing recommendations from deer group but adding new powers to be built into deer legislation.

Operational workstream

Notes produced from the first discussion which was more of a sounding discussion. Phasing and timing expectations were considered. Thought was given to who was required to be pulled into the dialogue at what point that needs working through.

Geographical workstream areas really should be first stopping points for operational delivery.

Regulatory workstream

There is a programme of 4/5 different areas which the group are looking to expand on. The monthly meetings have been set up, and there is link up with the incentive and operational workstreams.

Incentive workstream

A paper has been circulated and the group has had comments back.

Consideration has been given to incentivising land owners to bring deer populations down below a certain level. Close link with the legislative/regulatory workdtreams.

Agenda item – d – communications and engagement

Potentially announce though a government inspired question, interviews, editorial articles or visits. SG are keen to collate suggestions.

The group advised there had been a lot of correspondence from stakeholders such as ADMG and there is an appetite to hear about the strategy.


  • SG to produce a comms plan focussing on the ministerial announcement and further communications relating to the deer management strategy
  • NS to use DMRT (and the establishment of a couple of subgroups of DMRT members) to keep stakeholders informed and involved with the workstreams
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