Benefits of moorland management

Press Release

With moorland management under ever more scrutiny, Tim Baynes Scottish Land and Estates Moorland Group Director, has reiterated the immense value of existing moorland management practices in an open letter to The National. You can read the full letter below. 

Benefits of moorland management 

Sustainable economic growth is on the agenda for the SNP spring conference. Given Scotland’s geography, land management plays a crucial role in this.

Around 10% of Scotland’s 8 million hectares is now used for some sort of grouse shooting. Well-managed moorlands provide habitats for at least 57 bird species, as well as mountain hares as evidenced by recent Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust  research. Without shooting interests these areas would be managed differently, harming wildlife and biodiversity.

It has also been estimated that moorland management supports the equivalent of 2640 full time jobs and £30 million in wages for the Scottish economy, mainly in remote rural communities. 

Visitors come from within the UK and across the world to shoot grouse and it is a significant tourism sector for Scotland benefiting a wide range of people in moorland areas. The best estimate is that there are over 6000 participants each year in Scottish grouse shooting.

Land managers also make a major contribution to tackling wildlife crime, which is at an all-time low. They could help even more if there was early and open sharing of satellite tagging data to search for missing birds and gather vital evidence of what has happened to them.

Finally, it is worth noting that muirburn (the controlled burning of heather) improves the habitat for wildlife and is carried out in line with a recently updated code of practice. Done correctly, it avoids damaging peat and is does not impact carbon storage. Furthermore, controlled burning will reduce the risk of wildfires. There have been very few wildfires as a result of grouse muirburn and trained keepers are of huge help to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in combatting wildfires.  

There is simply no other unsubsidised use of moorland that would be practical and generate the same economic and environmental benefits.

Tim Baynes  

Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group