As of 6th April 2020 carrying out any muirburn activity is illegal. Following passing of the emergency Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 amendments to the Hill Farming Act 1946 Section 23 (muirburn season) states that a person may not carry out muirburn on land. This will be followed by the standard ban on burning between the April 15th and October 1st.
Moorland management plays an intrinsic role in the wildlife and biodiversity in Scotland’s uplands and involves activities such as controlled heather burning and wildlife management. The sector both supports thousands of jobs to keep remote communities strong and provides unique habitats for an abundance of wildlife to thrive. There is no other viable use of moorland that would generate the same economic and environmental benefits.
ECONOMIC BENEFIT & TOURISM
- The value of the game and country sports industry is worth over £350m annually to the Scottish economy.
- Over £23m flows directly into local businesses, according to a survey of 45 grouse estates conducted by Scotland’s regional moorland groups in 2017.
- A survey (2017) of five sporting estates by Lammermuirs Moorland Group showed that, on average, each created 110 days of shoot employment. This seasonal work is over and above the 45 full-time and five part-time jobs sustained by the five grouse estates throughout the calendar year. The area around the Lammermuirs benefitted from trade with estates worth £466,274 in 2017.
- Over 11,000 full time jobs are supported as a direct result of sporting shooting, often in fragile and remote communities where alternative sources of employment are few and far between.
- Country sports tourism generates £155m annually for the Scottish economy with approximately 970,000 bed-nights per year purchased by tourists, both domestic and international.
- Approximately 60% of visitors come from England, with the remaining 40% from within Scotland and overseas – primarily the USA, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, France and Spain. New markets are opening up in China and India.
WILDLIFE & BIODIVERSTY
- Managed moorlands have wildlife in abundance – moorland offers a rich biodiversity where a wide variety of wildlife and habitat can flourish.
- Research has shown conclusively that on managed grouse moors the breeding success of some species of moorland birds is significantly improved – primarily due to muirburn and predator control carried out by gamekeepers.
- A Game Conservancy Deutschland study found 103 bird species thriving on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens in 2018, among them were red listed species such as curlew, lapwing, black grouse and merlin.
- Glenturret Estate in Perthshire recorded no less than 12 different raptor species hunting and nesting on the moorland in 2016, including several breeding pairs of hen harriers, a nesting pair of peregrine fledging four chicks, short eared owls and numerous red kites.
- A report by Taylor Wildlife in 2015 found 81 bird species recorded as either breeding on Invermark Estate or using the area as a valuable feeding resource.
- A new method for counting mountain hares has been developed following a three-year research project conducted by the James Hutton Institute and GWCT, commissioned by SNH.
- The current population in Scotland is estimated at 135,000 (2019).
- In the Highland region, the mountain hare index on driven moors was 35 times higher than on moors not managed for shooting, and more than twice as high as on walked-up moors.
- The Muirburn Code provides both good practice guidance and sets out statutory restrictions for burning and cutting. When muirburn is done well, in accordance with the code, it can provide benefits including reducing the impact of wildfire.
- The Moorland Forum is developing practical guidance related to the Muirburn Code and grouse moor owners and land managers are actively involved in that process.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH PEATLAND RESTORATION
- Peatland in Scotland currently holds more than 1·6 billion tonnes of carbon. Landowners and moorland managers are working closely with government agencies to ensure that our peatlands – much of which is found on grouse moors - are in a good condition for future generations. In the past five years, 18,990 hectares of peatland have been restored across Scotland, making a positive contribution to carbon sequestration and the management of water in upland areas.
- What's the connection between peat and grouse? Between 2014-16 Peatland ACTION supported the restoration of the peatlands at Hopes Estate in East Lothian, explained in a case study on the SNH website.
GROUSE AS A SUSTAINABLE FOOD
- The popularity of game meat is rocketing, with sales in the UK rising by 8.6 per cent in the last year (2018) and some Scottish game dealers reporting a five-fold increase in demand for grouse. Read more.
- The popularity of game meat has been assisted by the work of The British Game Alliance, the official marketing board for the UK game industry. A not-for-profit organisation, it works to promote the value of all feathered game to the public whilst exploring new markets at home and overseas. Through the 'British Game' assurance scheme, the provenance of game meets rigorous and ethical standards.
- The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has recognised the contribution of private estate staff and equipment in fighting the worst spate of spring 2019 wildfires, most notably in Morayshire. Gamekeepers from Grampian, Speyside, Tomatin and Loch Ness came out with their specialist firefighting equipment, professional expertise and understanding of controlled burning methods to help the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service bring it under control. Read more.
LAND USED AS GROUSE MOORLAND
- Current estimates place approximately 10% of Scotland’s land area as being used for some form of grouse shooting. The area of driven grouse moor is considerably smaller than this. Read more.
Our moorland work is channelled through the Scottish Moorland Group, a part of SLE with an independent Chairman.
SMG is also closely involved with Scotland’s Moorland Forum, Working for Waders, the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership, Heads Up For Harriers and a range of other stakeholder initiatives to develop best practice.
Our Gift of Grouse campaign aims to tell the story of the grouse shooting and keeping industry, through the people who are involved with it on the ground – from gamekeepers to local businesses such as butchers and hotels. We continue to be driven to wholeheartedly promote the positive benefits of moorland management and conservation.
Click here to read the latest facts and figures on moorland management to stay up to date and find links to the latest best-practice guidance, along with details on the range of benefits provided by responsible moorland management.