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Sustaining Scotland’s Moorlands; The role of sporting management in sustaining our upland ecosystems

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has launched a comprehensive “living document” to draw together its deep knowledge and ideas on moorland management issues, as a guide to private sector management and public policy.  It is endorsed by the Scottish Moorland Group and includes a Foreword from the Chairman, Andrew Hopetoun.

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“Well conducted management for grouse shooting can be a source of good for our uplands,” says GWCT Scotland Director

 The case for grouse moor management as an essential part of sustaining Scotland’s uplands was re-stated at a “Gift of Grouse” reception yesterday at the Scottish Parliament, highlighting the work of grouse moor estates in the Angus Glens and Perthshire.

 Adam Smith, Director Scotland, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which has, since the mid 1980s, produced more than 120 peer- reviewed papers on moorland issues, reiterated the benefits of management for grouse saying:

 “There is no question to GWCT Scotland that well conducted management for grouse shooting can be a force for good in our uplands.  Its demise would pose significant challenges for the landscape, for nationally important biodiversity conservation, and many small but locally important rural economies.

 “GWCT feels however that there is room for improvement; we believe where grouse densities are at levels which can sustain shooting and predation pressures, these moors can and should host diverse bird of prey populations.  We also feel that grouse moors should play a greater role in protecting and enhancing peat storage, thus capturing carbon and water.”

 Adam Smith said that while it was possible to achieve net beneficial change, this would require balances to be struck – in terms of sustainable bird of prey populations, re-wetting peat land to the detriment of grazing quality, and for gamekeepers to better judge the need for medicating wild animals. He said:

“Change is not always a net gain. If we accept that Scotland needs moorland, new processes in thinking in both management and public policy are needed. Critically there must be a shift in perception that moorland management is limiting and extractive to accepting that it contributes provisioning, regulating and cultural services.  Grouse moors are an interlinked part of the suite of upland land uses, including forestry and livestock farming, which have a role in the sustainable future for the uplands.”

 GWCT has produced a new pack of position documents titled Sustaining Scotland’s Moorlands.  These bring together inter-related headings and topics where GWCT has a position based extensive research in this area.


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