National Goose Forum minutes: May 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the National Goose Forum on 10 May 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sam Turner, SG (Chair) 
  • Rae McKenzie, NatureScot
  • Morag Milne, NatureScot (secretariat)
  • Donald Fraser, NatureScot
  • Bill Dundas, RPID
  • Gillian Walker, RPID
  • Nils Bunnefeld, Stirling University
  • Patrick Krause, SCF
  • Alasdair Macnab, NFUS
  • Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB
  • Penny Middleton, NFUS
  • Richard Hearn, WWT
  • David Muir, Uist LGMG
  • Alastair Watson, Orkney LGMG
  • Donald MacKinnon, Lewis and Harris LGMG
  • Peter Isaacson, Tiree and Coll LGMG
  • Sally Reynolds, Lewis and Harris LGMG


  • Brian Minshull BGAG
  • Jessica Shaw, NatureScot
  • Paul Walton, RSPB
  • Gary Clewley, BTO
  • Steve Campbell, SASA
  • Colin Shedden, BASC Scotland; retirement
  • Robert Epps, Islay LGMG
  • Alastair Martin, Solway LGMG
  • Andrew Connon, NFUS
  • Hugh Dignon, SG


Items and actions

Sam Turner welcomed everyone to the meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting (14 February 2023) were agreed. Action points from previous meetings are listed at Appendix 1.

Goose policy review (verbal update from Bill Dundas/Rae McKenzie/Gillian Walker/Morag Milne)

Bill introduced the draft goose policy review (circulated to members on 27 April 2023). This quinquennial review has been undertaken by NatureScot, supported by Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), and on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

The terms of reference for the review were agreed by Scottish Ministers at the beginning of the review process and they are included at Annex 1 of the review.  

They set out the scope for the review. Both the review panel (Bill, Rae, Morag and Gillian) and the review board (Bill, Rae, Morag, Gillian, Alan Younie, Sam, Donald) have worked to these terms. 

The review makes recommendations to refresh the goose policy objectives. Future delivery mechanisms, and any associated payment rates, fall outwith the scope for the review. 

The deadline for completing the review was extended from November 2022 to spring 2023 because the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) bird flu placed extra workload pressures on the review panel.

The review will be published on NatureScot’s web pages.

Gillian outlined the stakeholder engagement that has been such a big part of this review, from the initial questionnaire through to regular consultation meetings with stakeholders. Consultation started with an open questionnaire published on NatureScot’s web pages and circulated to stakeholders. We received 257 responses to this questionnaire. Thereafter, stakeholders (both (National Goose Forum NGF) and Local Goose Management Groups (LGMG) members) were consulted about the issues that were important to them and for their views about future goose policy. The information that they provided shaped the content and the recommendations in the review.

Action Point (AP): after consulting with LGMG members or with colleagues, NGF members should send their comments on the draft goose policy review to Morag by 7 June 2023.

Rae introduced each of the nine recommendations in the review.

The following points were raised during discussion:

  • Bag data will be needed to inform the development and delivery of flyway management plans. For Icelandic greylag geese, we will be working closely with range states, to take account of their data as well as our own. Richard provided a link for Iceland’s bag data Icelandic greylag geese bag data
  • Will the Scottish Government (SG) include the need for bag data in forthcoming legislation? It is not included in the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill, and we are not clear about the content of the Natural Environment Bill.
  • African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) changed the legal status of Icelandic greylag geese giving them greater protection in response to a drop in bird numbers. AEWA reviews population data for migratory species of waterbirds every three years. The criteria that AEWA is working to are published on their web pages. If numbers of Icelandic greylag geese increase in the future, and they meet AEWA’s criteria, AEWA would amend the status accordingly.
  • Equity and transparency are very important. If we were able to access all of the relevant data, we could achieve complete transparency. But we have significant gaps in our knowledge (particularly about goose impacts on farming practice), and our views and perceptions are drawn from imperfect data. 
  • Some LGMGs feel less empowered than others. There is scope to improve on our current working practices.
  • Is there scope in the policy objectives to consider the disease risk that geese present or to consider new disease risks? Yes, the NGF draws on a wide range of expertise to explore new or emerging issues and to inform the development of future goose policy.
  • The ninth recommendation is to develop a delivery plan to set out clear roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders. It will provide clear measurable targets against which progress can be measured.

Morag introduced the objectives for future goose policy. They refresh the three key objectives that have been core to goose policy for the last 20 years, and set them in the context of new government policy drivers prioritising biodiversity, climate change and Net Zero.

The following points were raised during discussion:

  • It was suggested that it would be important, especially for greylag, to undertake an economic impact assessment of the various policy options. We could consider this suggestion for inclusion in the delivery plan.
  • There’s a lot of uncertainty about how government will deliver some of its newer policies, including its vision for regenerative farming. The delivery plan for goose policy can be adapted as our understanding of these policies improves.
  • Goose policy will continue to develop and the next review of goose policy is scheduled to take place in five years.
  • It is not a priority to develop a flyway management plan for pink-footed geese in the next five years; our priorities are to develop plans for the species of greatest conservation concern, and a national plan for resident greylag geese in recognition of the impacts the species have on agriculture and crofting.
  • Bill then outlined the next steps. NGF members are asked to submit their comments by 7 June 2023. NatureScot will collate these and send the review to Sam by 12 June 2023. Sam will then send the review to the Cabinet Secretary for approval.

The following points were raised during discussion:

  • Of particular interest are
    • the content of the delivery plan
    • population targets for geese in particular geographical areas, for example, for greylag on Uist. These will be included in species management plans when they are developed.
    • arrangements for support in 2023/24.
  • Donald outlined arrangements for support in 2023/24: 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. In the short term, Donald anticipates an extension to the current Annex 1 goose schemes for 2023/24. The level of funding may be influenced by the level of need and will be subject to availability from NatureScot’s budget. Donald will discuss these arrangements with the Scottish Government and NatureScot will advise NGF members of its decision as soon as possible.
  • Patrick thanked all involved in the review – Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) have appreciated the level of engagement on the policy review. Other NGF members agreed.

Any other current business and date of next meeting

Sally Reynolds has a new role at the end of June so tendered her resignation. Rae thanked Sally for her contributions to the NGF. Both the Kintyre and Islay LGMGs are also looking for new LGMG representatives, so there could be quite a few new members at the next meeting.

Date of next meeting

(AP): Morag will canvass for dates for the next meeting. 

Morag Milne

12 May 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 14 February 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 14 February 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 10 May 2023

Outstanding. Ross will provide his presentation by 30 May 2023.


Morag to include in the 14 February 2023 minutes any written updates from LGMGs. 

Update at 10 May 2023

None provided. Discharged.

NatureScot will draft the national goose policy review and circulate it to NGF members for their comments.

Update at 10 May 2023

Discharged and members are invited to submit their comments to NatureScot by 7 June 2023.


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