National Goose Forum minutes: August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the National Goose Forum on 16 August 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Turner, SG (Chair) 
  • Rae McKenzie, NatureScot
  • Morag Milne, NatureScot (secretariat)
  • Jessica Shaw, NatureScot
  • Bill Dundas, RPID
  • Gillian Walker, RPID
  • Nils Bunnefeld, Stirling University
  • Alasdair Macnab, NFUS
  • Penny Middleton, NFUS
  • Paul Walton, RSPB
  • Teresa Frost, BTO
  • Peter Clark, BASC Scotland
  • Nathan Bryceland, SLE
  • Alastair Martin, Solway LGMG
  • David Muir, Uist LGMG
  • Alastair Watson, Orkney LGMG
  • Ross Dunsmore, Lewis and Harris LGMG


  • Hugh Dignon, SG
  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot
  • Peter Isaacson, Tiree and Coll LGMG
  • Richard Hearn, WWT
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Brian Minshull; BGAG
  • Craig Archibald, Islay LGMG
  • Steve Campbell, SASA

Items and actions

Sam Turner welcomed everyone to the meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting (10 May 2023) were agreed. Action points from previous meetings are listed at Appendix 1.

Action Point (AP): Morag to circulate the NGF Terms of Reference to all members.

Goose policy review (verbal update from Sam Turner)

The Goose Policy Review is with the Scottish Government who will review it and send it to Ministers to determine future goose policy.

Arrangements for the 2023/24 goose season – (verbal update from Sam Turner)

The current arrangements came to an end in April 2023, and Ministers will consider future long-term support arrangements in response to the goose policy review. We anticipate an extension to the current Annex 1 goose schemes for 2023/24. 

Arrangements for the 2024/25 goose season and beyond – timeline for developing longer term support for goose management – (verbal update from Sam Turner)

The arrangements for the 2024/25 season also hinge on the Ministerial response to the goose policy submission.

Goose and swan monitoring programme – (presentation from Teresa Frost)

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), NatureScot and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) all fund the Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme (GSMP). The programme is delivered by BTO who co-ordinate work undertaken by partner organisations, collaborators and volunteers.

Teresa outlined the censuses and counts that are undertaken, how age assessments will be delivered and some of the improvements that BTO will make to the new online database that was launched a year ago.

BTO is still building up its volunteer contacts to deliver some of the counts.

A copy of Teresa’s presentation will be circulated with the minutes of this meeting.

Update from African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) European Goose Management Platform (EGMP) meeting – (verbal report from Rae McKenzie, Morag Milne and Jess Shaw)

Des Thompson, Rae, Morag and Jess attended. On behalf of the UK, Des completed his third and final year as Chair of the meeting. Rae contributed in her role as Co-ordinator of the Greenland/Svalbard Task Force (TF) and member of Agricultural TF. Morag contributed as a member of the Taiga Bean Goose TF and took on lead for new Icelandic Greylag Co-ordination Group. Jess Shaw contributed ornithology and modelling advice as a member of the Greenland/Svalbard TF and part of the new Icelandic Greylag Co-ordination Group.

The meeting accepted the Greenland Barnacle Goose population assessment and Task Force report, and the Bean Goose Task Force report and harvest recommendations.

The meeting considered the impact of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and agreed to establish a new contact group to improve communications on impacts and research across Europe. Rae will lead this group.

The UK delegation met with the Iceland delegation to initiate discussions on the development of an Icelandic greylag International Single Species Action Plan (ISSAP). We are currently reviewing the data that we each hold and considering how we might develop a population based model to inform the ISSAP. Morag will lead this work.

The joint Task Force meeting focussed on impact modelling, and included a presentation about goose damage to grassland. This shows that higher numbers of geese result in greater impacts on crops: Report to AEWA European Goose Management Platform - assessment of goose damage to crops

A new Flight Safety TF was established. Highlands and Islands Airports will be invited to contribute.

A further meeting for national and other data co-ordinators will explore data management in November.

Discussion included the following:

  • Paul asked about arrangements for collecting greylag bag data to inform the Icelandic flyway plan. Morag and Rae plan to discuss data collection with Al Watson when visiting Orkney next month, with a view to trialling the use of an app to simplify the collection of bag data. National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) also offered to help. 
  • Rae asked if anyone knew where we could source a rising plate meter for grass measurements and received a couple of useful leads.
  • Alasdair Macnab sought quicker progress to address species conflict issues.

Any other current business  

Everyone is invited to suggest agenda items for future meetings. Penny suggested we consider how future schemes could be funded. It has also been suggested we invite Luke Ozsanlav-Harris to give us a presentation about the findings from his PhD thesis which was about the decline of the Greenland White fronted Goose: diagnosing causes, identifying solutions.

Paul suggested that there is widespread uptake of the current derogation that permits earlier mowing of grassland which is managed under late-mowing Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) options. He suggested this uptake is in response to goose damage and may adversely affect species that generally benefit from later mowing such as the corncrake. David Muir noted resident greylag numbers on Uist had increased because there is no funding in place to support their control. Penny suggested that this issue highlights the need for a long-term Scottish Government commitment to fund greylag goose control to encourage land managers to keep going and to avoid any let-up.

David Muir recorded his disappointment that new national goose policy has not yet been adopted. He also noted that Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) still have an open petition about greylag geese (PEO1490) which was submitted to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee in 2014.

Date of next meeting – 4 December 2023

Morag Milne

16 August 2023

Appendix 1 Action points raised at previous meetings

Actions from 5 August 2021 meeting

Morag will circulate a link to Birdstrike’s report about the greylag corralling trial when NatureScot publish it.

Update at 16 August 2023

Outstanding. Pending publication of report.

Actions from 2 March 2021 meeting

David Muir asked if we had published our (early 2019) NatureScot economic appraisal of wildlife management. Rae offered to find out.

Update at 16 August 2023

Outstanding. The report has not been published. Ross Lilley will share a copy.

Actions from 14 February 2023 meeting

Morag will circulate a copy of Ross Lilley’s presentation about Future agricultural support mechanisms.

Update at 16 August 2023

Outstanding. Ross will provide his presentation.


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