SWT upland policies are ‘irresponsible’

Researchers looking for raptors at Langholm Moor, Dumfries and Galloway Area.
�Lorne Gill/SNH
Researchers looking for raptors at Langholm Moor, Dumfries and Galloway Area. �Lorne Gill/SNH

The Scottish Countryside Alliance has challenged proposals to support ‘transition away’ from ‘traditional deer stalking’ and ‘driven grouse moors’ as unscientific and irresponsible.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has published controversial new policies which call for the licensing of ‘driven grouse shooting’ and propose offering ‘support and training’ to landowners who reject current sporting land use, in the misplaced belief that these will be of benefit to our uplands.

Scottish Countryside director Jamie Stewart said: “We welcome any organisation who can share a vision and passion for Scotland’s uplands in all its diversity and beauty. However, the SWT’s new report displays a lack of understanding of how the uplands work. The SWT’s belief that the transition to ‘walked up’ grouse shooting will be of benefit to the uplands is both unscientific and irresponsible. Walked up grouse is a fine part of our shooting tradition, but it cannot replace driven grouse shooting in terms of the investment in conservation and rural economies.”

“Numerous studies, including the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, have shown the benefits of driven grouse shooting and its associated integrated moorland management to conservation, and the detrimental effects when that management ceases. The losses to the rural economy and local businesses, for whom driven grouse shooting can be the main economic driver, would be enormous, and something that has clearly been overlooked by the Trust.”

“High quality gamekeeping, and the sympathetic management of our increasingly rare heather moorland habitat delivers multiple benefits, and is probably one of our best conservation success stories - something that should be applauded by the SWT.”