Deer Management Strategic Board minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 11 December 2023.

Attendees and apologies

Hugh Dignon - Scottish Government Nature Division (Chair)

Donald Fraser - NatureScot

Simon Hodgson - Forestry and Land Scotland

Robyn McCormack - Scottish Government Nature Division (Secretariat)

Grant Moir - Cairngorms National Park Authority 

Paul Roberts - NatureScot 


Harriet Donald - Loch Lomond National Park Authority (deputy)

Alan Hampson - Scottish Forestry 

Donald Henderson - Deputy Director, Scottish Government Nature Division 

Simon Jones - Loch Lomond National Park Authority 

Robbie Kernahan - NatureScot

John Kerr - Scottish Government ARE

Items and actions

Welcome & Review                                  

Hugh welcomed everyone to the meeting. The Board had a morning discussion focussing on skills and training with training staff from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and educators from the University of Highlands and Islands and Scotland’s Rural College. The Board found the discussion engaging and valuable.

The group agreed the minutes from the meeting of 23 October 2023 and discussed outstanding action points from previous meetings. AP (SG) – Robyn McCormack to publish the minutes of that meeting on the Scottish Government website now that they are agreed.


Agenda Item 3 – Venison Proposals

Grant Moir circulated a paper in advance of the meeting and led the update, informing the board of the proposals to trial a venison subsidy in the Cairngorms National Park.

This would be a short term trial which might be one of a number of similar trials across Scotland using different subsidy models in different habitats. The concept of using a venison subsidy to incentivise deer culls arose from discussions within the Common Ground Forum and subsequent correspondence jointly written by ADMG and SE Link to the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.

The Board discussed the proposals and agreed to endorse the proposal to progress in the Cairngorms National Park Authority.


Agenda Item 4 – Wider Support for Venison

Hugh Dignon led the discussion by summarising the proposals made in the joint proposal from ADMG, SE LINK and SVA to subsidise venison nationally.

The Scottish Government have been considering where support for venison might be focussed. Some members of the Board had previously met with the above organisations to explore this further and some concerns were raised regarding incentivising deer culls in the lowland landscapes too. The Board recognised that differed locales would require different resources and equipment including larders and storage facilities.

AP – (FLS) The Board agreed to continue to consider wider support for venison and actioned the Operational Workstream with identifying a suitable lowland location where a subsidy scheme could work.


Agenda Item 5 – Herbivore Management

The Board noted that there had been some last minute apologies and that this item could be discussed more fully at the next meeting.

However Hugh Dignon updated the attending members that SG ARE colleagues led a recent workshop on the Herbivore Management Paper which the Board had considered previously.

Following from that workshop, and discussion at the Land Use Transformation Board it was agreed that a narrower definition of what habitat types would most benefit from reductions in grazing pressures (wild and domestic) was required.

The aim for that work now is to have another policy workshop in January which focus on rational for reducing grazing pressures and related policy proposals.

AP – (CNPA/SG) Grant to attend January workshop.


Agenda Item 6 – Consultation

Hugh Dignon updated the Board about the progress of the consultation. The Board had not yet received a draft version however the legislation workstream had been given the opportunity to comment on the draft.

AP – (SG) Scottish Government colleagues will produce a Stakeholder Engagement Plan and Comms Handling Plan which will be shared with the Board via correspondence.



The next meeting is due to be held on 4 March 2023.

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