Shared Steps for Common Grazings
Shared Steps for Common Grazings was a year-long European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) project, funded by Outer Hebrides LEADER and NatureScot, which worked to develop results-based approaches to supporting the positive management of common grazings in Scotland (c. 550,000 ha). It tackled both the ecological challenges of addressing the whole range of habitats and habitats conditions to be seen on common grazings and the legal and governance challenges peculiar to common grazings. It developed, in cooperation with the POBAS pilots in Argyll and Skye (see separate case study on this website), scorecards and payment rationales and proposals which have the potential to be applied to large areas of the Scottish Highlands and Islands (and perhaps more widely), both rough grazings and enclosed farmland.
Location of the scheme
Outer Hebrides (Western Isles) of Scotland, but with potential relevance for large areas of (at least) NW Scotland
Duration of the scheme
October 2019 Until:
Objective(s) of the scheme / project
Peatland focus has direct relevance for carbon sequestration/storage
Which habitats or species are in the focus of the scheme / project?
- Habitats (incl. habitats of Fauna-Flora-Habitat-Directive (FFH-D.))
- All habitats encountered on common grazings, whether Annex 1 or not
- Main Annex 1 habitats present: blanket bog; Atlantic wet heath with Erica tetralix; machair
- Project resulted in 4 draft scorecards which it is thought cover the whole range of habitats encountered:
• Bog (can also be used on raised bogs) (with direct implications for carbon storage/sequestration)
• Semi-improved pastures of significance for wader
• General card covering everying else (wet and dry heaths, grasslands, montane habitats etc.)
Which indicators are used?
- Habitats (incl FFH and BD)
- Physical structures (e.g. dead wood, presence of brushwood, hollow trees, tall grass)
Hydrological criteria are important on some of the scorecards
Species are used on the cards, but not 'rare' species - cards are not designed to identify exceptional quality.
Design of scheme / project
- Pure Result Based Payments
By which fund(s) is the scheme / project implemented?
- Other measures of Rural Development
- National governmental financing
LEADER Outer Hebrides
How are the incentives (payment levels) calculated?
- Based on the costs of management actions
Is there a top up in case of reaching the goals?
Are there any evaluation results (2020)?
The project succeeded on paper at least in developing a comprehensive approach to common grazings, one which is also compatible with approaches on sole use rough grazings and inbye land.
The project was highly impacted by Covid in its ability to engage with graziers and grazings committee and a follow-on fully funded bridging project is being supported by NatureScot in the Jan-Mar 2021 period, with the aim of bringing the work in the Western Isles up to the same level of engagement as the POBAS pre-pilots, with the intention of incorporating common grazings into a proposed Phase 3 of the POBAS programme.
Project manager: Gwyn Jones, EFNCP dgl_jones@yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk
Project officer: Robyn Stewart, EFNCP robynannstewart@hotmail(dot)com
The main outcomes were:
• An approach was developed which appears to be able to cover the whole landscape with 4 scorecards
• A payment rationale and payment calculations were developed which integrates all 4 cards into a single approach, including considerations of diseconomies of scale, diseconomies of cattle grazing
• Substantive discussions were had with experts on common-grazings-specific legal issues and on the socio-economic and cultural issues of common grazings management and regulation, with recommendations on some of the ways forward to minimise those impediments and transaction costs
• Developing measures in a stakeholder-engaged way in a time of Covid
• Developing approaches which address the whole landscape and potentially all holdings is particularly challenging when policy has a history of focussing on particular habitats (and, to a lesser degree, species); what ‘good’ looks like for landscapes and for some of the elements within them is a new and difficult question for the relevant agencies
• Developing approaches which address the whole landscape and potentially all holdings is also challenging when it comes to assessing the potential role of RBPS and how it fits in not only to complementary measures/actions (a well-accepted theme by now), but also to non-RB payments. Are there cases (e.g. very slow response time) when RBPS does not provide the most effective option, or is not a fair sharing of risk between applicant and State?
• Scale is a major challenge. Is generalising to the scale of management decisions possible? How can small areas of particular significance within much larger parcels be adequately catered-for? And many other similar questions.
• Designing and describing payment rationales and mechanisms is particularly difficult in cases of common land, where there are numerous stakeholders with a range of rights, a range of relationships between rights and use/management; complicated inter-relationships with other CAP payments; different legal and governance constraints/opportunities