Deer Management Strategic Board minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of 8 March 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Donald Henderson, Chair, Deputy Director of Scottish Government Nature Division
  • Hugh Dignon, Scottish Government Nature Division
  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot
  • Alan Hampson, Scottish Forestry
  • Simon Hodgson, Forestry and Land Scotland
  • Simon Jones, Loch Lomon and the Trossachs National Park Authority
  • John Kerr, Scottish Government Agriculture Policy Division
  • Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot
  • Ross Lilley, NatureScot
  • Robyn McCormack, Secretariat, Scottish Government Nature Division
  • Grant Moir, Cairngorms National Park Authority 
  • Peter Phillips, Scottish Government Agriculture Policy Division


  • Paul Roberts, NatureScot

Items and actions

Welcome & Review

Donald welcomed everyone to the meeting particularly John and Peter who were new to the group and presenting to the group.  

The group agreed the minutes from the meeting of 15 December 2022. Action Point – Robyn McCormack to publish the minutes of that meeting on the Scottish Government website now that they are agreed.

Outstanding Actions from Previous Meeting – 15 December 2022

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

to consider resource needs for workstream delivery for next Board meeting.

NatureScot - 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. 12/09/22 - A detailed comms plan is required setting out a timeline for potential ministerial announcements and opportunities for engagement with stakeholders and interested parties. Discussed at meeting – in review. Colleagues in NS and SG have begun drafting this timeline.

NatureScot - 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. Paul to recirculate updated graphic to board members.

NatureScot - Paul agreed to circulate an updated timetable/graphic that board members could share with colleagues and Ministers. AP from meeting of 12/09/22

NatureScot/SG - The strategic steer from the board was to progress with approach 2, the legislation workstream agreed to take the steer away and reflect this in advice to Ministers. In progress

Update to action point 1 - The group agreed to prioritise developing a vision statement, involving the Director of Scottish Government, Nature Division. Grant Moir reiterated the bubble diagram he’d previously created.

Agenda Item 3 – Deer Management/Herbivore Impacts and Future Rural Support

Donald Fraser introduced the paper that was circulated to board members in advance of the meeting and set the context ahead of the discussion. The group welcomed the paper and built on discussions held previously during the day at the site visit looking at herbivore impacts on Auchlyne and Suie Estate.

The group had a full discussion on incentivising land managers to manage deer, addressing the related barriers, including the impacts of sheep grazing. The group agreed that investment was required in herbivore management in order to achieve other biodiversity and climate change targets.

Scottish Government colleagues agreed that now is the time to present these challenges to Ministers and would give consideration to submitting a proposal to link sustainable deer management to basic payment support. Action Point - Grant offered to produce a preamble setting out the need for a joined up approach to herbivore impacts. This preamble may form part of the primary legislation submission.

Agenda Item 4 – Workstream Updates

Each of the workstream chairs provided a verbal update on their workstream.

Legislation workstream

NatureScot provided an update for the legislation workstream and updated the group that a ministerial submission would identify recommendations to be progressed through secondary legislation.

The group fully discussed and provided comments on the options for legislative extent submission. Scottish Government colleagues would reflect these comments in the revised version.  

Regulatory Workstream

NatureScot provided an update on the regulatory workstream noting that a lot had been covered in the previous agenda item.

Incentive Workstream

The Incentive workstream chair provided an update on the incentives workstream, noting that a lot had been covered in the previous agenda item.

Operational Workstream

The chair of the operational workstream provided an update to the group. The site maps had been updated since the last meeting and there was a focus on urban and peri-urban areas.   


Agenda Item 5 – Natural Capital on Public Land

Peter Phillips provided a presentation on ‘Natural Capital on Public Land’ which is looking to understand the opportunities for improvements to natural capital.

The board welcomed and were supportive of this work, acknowledging that public sector need to be exemplar in implementing changes to their land to address biodiversity and climate change targets.

Agenda Item 6 – Programme Management Update

The group noted the paper circulated in advance and it was agreed that due to lack of time this item could be discussed via email if required.

Agenda Item 7 – Comms Planner Update

The group noted the paper circulated in advance and it was agreed that due to lack of time this item could be discussed via email if required.


The next meeting is due to be held on 31 May 2023. The group agreed that the format of a morning site visit and afternoon board meeting worked well. (Action Point) (All) – Suggestions for a location for the next board meeting to be sent to Robyn.

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