Our Work

The role of the Forum is to facilitate collaboration rather than represent views. Information on current and past work facilitated by the Forum can be found below.

Voices from the Glen – a short film by Centre for Good Relations

Background: During the Finding the Common Ground (FtCG) process there was feedback that some stalkers were not comfortable speaking in large gatherings.  At the same time, the importance of hearing their voices was acknowledged.

It was felt that to support dialogue it could be helpful to meet with some stalkers on a one-to-one basis within their own settings, capturing their thoughts on camera as a way of then bringing some of their experiences and perspectives into the FtCG process. This led to the development of the ‘Voices from the Glen’ film which was first shown and discussed at the final FtCG Workshop in Stirling in June 2023 and more recently in a Parliamentary Meeting with MSPs on 2nd May 2024.

The film highlights some of the perspectives of three deer stalkers: Ewen Ballantyne, James Bain & Donald Macrae. The film does not make any claim that it represents the views of the entire stalking community, and as such should not be used in any setting as a standalone feature to suggest this is the case.

We hope the ‘Voices from the Glen’ film provides a helpful resource to:

  • stimulate further exploration, discussion and dialogue on the role and position of stalkers in the future of deer and land management.
  • offer encouragement and increase the confidence of more stalkers to engage in conversations to share their views and perspectives in a variety of settings.

Conflict Support Service – trial

Are tensions or difficult relationships causing a barrier to your work with others within the deer sector? Would you like to talk to someone in confidence to explore possible ways to work through these? If so, contact Abdul Rahim: abdul@centreforgoodrelations.com to arrange an initial conversation via phone or zoom.

Note: Centre for Good Relations (CfGR) practitioners are civic mediators who have been facilitating conversations/workshops during the Finding the Common Ground process and continue to support the ongoing work of the Common Ground Forum. During the course of their involvement, they have met and engaged with over a 150 people from within the deer sector to build understanding, and provide support to help navigate through diverging views, disagreements and conflicts that have occurred over the years, focusing particularly on the human dynamics and relationships between people.

This free support service will be offered initially for three months. Depending on the uptake, we may need to limit to a certain number of cases at a time. At the end of the trial period the pilot will be assessed and a decision will then be taken on what a future support service may look like.

Current and past work

The Common Ground Forum brings people together from different viewpoints to work collaboratively on areas of common interest. Below is a flavour of some of the work that has been initiated as a result.

A parliamentary meeting, organised by Centre for Good Relations, was held on 2nd May 2024 to give stalkers an opportunity to have their voices heard, improving the awareness of politicians and civil servants of the role of land managers and rural skills in tackling the twin climate and biodiversity crises.

• The Common Ground Forum held a Stalkers’ Event at Glen Quoich by Invergarry on 8th March 2024. It was attended by over 70 stalkers who took part in discussions on the future of deer management and demonstrations of peatland restoration, drones and thermal optics. This is the first in a series of events. The next one is being planned for early August.

• The Common Ground Forum held an online discussion about the current government consultation on Managing Deer for Nature and Climate on 23rd February 2024. 25 forum members joined us to discuss the issues constructively and identify areas of common ground. If you have ideas for future discussion topics please get in touch.

• Edinburgh University is working with Centre for Good Relations to carry out a pilot study in North Ross Deer Management Group to use methods from mediation and social science to enable DMGs to negotiate different perspectives in a more productive way.

• Association of Deer Management Groups is working with Forestry and Land Scotland to develop a protocol for how chairs of DMGs deal with conflict; and is currently scoping out further ways to improve how DMGs function.

• Joint advocacy by ADMG, ScotLINK and Scottish Venison for venison price support has resulted in an announcement in April 2024 by the Scottish Government for a national venison scheme. See here for further details.

A new ADMG/ScotLINK Deer Task Force liaison group has been established to enable discussion on respective positions and explore common objectives for policy direction, bringing in other organisations as required.

• Centre for Good Relations is working with Scottish Gamekeepers Association and stalkers to scope out how to promote and support confidence-building in deer managers/stalkers to help them engage more effectively with peers and the wider deer management community, and to give them a more equal voice in deer management discussions. Training sessions are being planned for Spring 2024.

• SCOTLAND: The Big Picture is researching a feature-length documentary focused on red deer, with a view to a screening tour in early 2025. The film will enable discussions at community-level on the forthcoming changes in deer management. Four people from the Common Ground Forum are on the steering group, helping to shape the narrative of the film.

To help mainstream deer management as a green job, CIEEM is featuring job profiles on deer management on the Green Jobs for Nature website, for example Falcon Frost’s profile. In addition, deer management and jobs has been put on the agenda of the next Scottish Environment LINK working group on Nature Jobs.

We are grateful to the following for their generous support of the Common Ground Forum work for the financial year 2024-25:

Association of Deer Management Groups
Cairngorms National Park Authority
Scourie Estate
The Pebble Trust