More Information on Agriculture and Forestry

Impacts on the Marine Environment
Diffuse pollution was projected by SEPA to be the most important cause of river pollution in Scotland in 2010, which is likely to have repercussions in the water body of the Moray Firth. At present, 25% of diffuse river pollution is thought to relate to agriculture and 1% to forestry. SEPA licenses helicopter/plane applications of herbicides but codes of good practice are the only control on landbased applications.

SNH launched the “Targeted Inputs for a Better Rural Environment” initiative in 1997, which provides information on farming practices for farmers and advisers in Scotland and pulls together existing information, highlighting ways in which technology can be used to protect the environment and reduce costs to farmers. The use of pesticides is already being minimised and consequently the discharge of redundant contaminants is also minimised. In addition, facilities are in place for the safe disposal of banned chemical stocks from farms. Concurrently, the UK Forestry Standard sets out what good practice entails and organises seminars aimed at contractors. Any person applying pesticides  is required to receive full training and have a certificate of competence. All pesticides used have undergone tests for efficacy and safety (to humans and the general environment) while alternatives to pesticides are being actively sought. Under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS) forest managers must keep records of fertiliser use and review the use of pesticides in order to avoid or reduce it. All Forest Enterprise Forests have received UKWAS approval and the proportion of forests registered with UKWAS is growing. Marine Scotland's Marine Laboratory holds information on heavy metals and persistent organic compounds in a range of marine samples collected from the Moray Firth. The data-set includes samples of biological tissue collected from stranded dolphins.

Under the “Designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (Scotland) Regulations 2002” the Moray Coast has been designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) where mandatory Action Programmes for farmers must be established. These promote best practice in the use and storage of fertiliser and manure. Certain areas (e.g. the Black Isle) were targeted for further data collection on the presence of nitrates but no case found for designating as NVZs. The relevant authorities will work with farmers in these areas to ensure that good practice is adhered to and that voluntary preventative measures are put in place, where appropriate.

The Scottish Government’s Agriculture and Environment Working Group Report “Custodians of Change” supports a number of key approaches to environmental management and the development of sustainable agriculture in Scotland.