The crossover between shooting interests and the management of Forest Service land in Northern Ireland has been discussed at a meeting between Forest Service representatives and staff from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation in Northern Ireland (BASC NI).
During the meeting, described by both sides as positive, Forest Service gave an update on the revision of bylaws which went out to consultation earlier this year. BASC suggested changes to these proposals in order to make them less restrictive for shooters. Forest Service staff said they were working through a wide range of consultation responses. They said they expected to be in a position to brief the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on an amended version of the bylaws in Spring 2012.
BASC NI also took the opportunity to raise a number of concerns over a generic Forest Service shooting lease document. Forest Service stated that they review this document on a regular basis and welcomed the constructive input from BASC.
Forest Service also expressed a keen interest in working in partnership with BASC to develop a grey squirrel control pilot project on forestry land which could potentially be included within the BASC Green Shoots conservation programme.
Representatives also discussed the valuable contribution that the development of deer management groups could make to more effective deer control.
Tommy Mayne, director of BASC NI, said: “We had a constructive meeting. Northern Ireland’s Forest Service should be commended for recognising the issues of importance for shooting and where shooting can help with land management. We very much look forward to working in partnership with Forest Service on issues that can benefit woodland and biodiversity.”