Select Page

The facts about the value of grouse shooting and its positive economic, social and environmental contribution are set out in this infographic.

It has been sent to MPs by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Moorland Association.

See the facts below – and the evidence behind them. Click on a fact to find out more.

Print

Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information Click for more information

1. Conservation of globally threatened habitat.

Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest. 75% is found in Britain because of grouse moor management.

Facts Reference
A survey of 229 moors in Scotland investigated the degree of heather cover between the 1940s and the 1980s on moors managed for grouse and those on which grouse management had stopped. Loss of heather over time was reduced on moors managed for grouse. Grouse shooting provided an incentive to conserve heather despite economic pressures. Robertson, Park, & Barton, (2001)
An RSPB research report notes that ‘management for the sport shooting of red grouse… has been important in preventing further losses of Calluna’ (heather), and cites Robertson, Park & Barton (2001). RSPB research report (2012)
Over 10 years, Moorland Association members have treated 65 square miles of invasive bracken to stop it swamping and killing other moorland plants. Moorland Association
An RSPB research report states: “Management that maintains a vigorous cover of competing species (as rotational muirburn aims to do) tends to limit, rather than encourage, the spread of bracken, with one long-term study in the Quantock Hills, southwest England, demonstrating that dwarf-shrub heath was more likely to have been lost to bracken if it was not burnt between 1938 and 1987 than if it was burnt at least once during that period (Ninnes 1995).” RSPB research report (2012)

^ Back to top ^

2. Time and money invested into conservation.

Almost £100m: estimated annual value of grouse shooting in England, Wales and Scotland.

This is a conservative estimate.

Facts

Reference

In 2010, research estimated grouse shooting was worth £68m in England and Wales. Moorland Association
A 2010 report estimated that grouse shooting is worth an estimated £23m in Scotland. Fraser of Allander institute report for GWCT (2010)
In 2011/12 it was estimated that grouse shooting generated over £30m per annum in wages alone. Scottish Land & Estates and Scottish Moorland Group fact sheet (2013)
An inquiry into the future for England’s upland communities noted “… positive synergies between moor management for game shooting and environmental goals and ecosystem service provision… this is a ‘free service’ on the basis that private investment saves public money by delivering environmental benefits.” Commission for Rural Communities, (2010)
Research shows that on average, each provider of driven grouse shooting influences the management of around 4,500ha of land. This in turn results in an estimated 790 days a year of conservation labour, all dependent on shooting. That is approximately three full time equivalent (FTE) conservation jobs per driven grouse provider. Providers of grouse shooting put a huge amount of effort into the conservation management of large areas of land in the UK (314 FTE jobs). Grouse shooting also contributes to the 4,700 conservation FTE jobs amassed by general habitat management activities for shooting. PACEC (2014)
Much of what is spent on grouse shooting is put back into the land by paying for conservation activity – for example, via gamekeepers wages, materials and equipment needed for conservation and management. Moorland Association
In general, and across all types of shooting including grouse, shooting providers spend nearly £250m on conservation annually. PACEC (2014)

^ Back to top ^

3. Control of disease and invasive species.

Facts Reference
Over 10 years, MA members have treated 65 square miles of invasive bracken to stop it swamping and killing other moorland plants. Moorland Association
An RSPB research report states: “Management that maintains a vigorous cover of competing species (as rotational muirburn aims to do) tends to limit, rather than encourage, the spread of bracken, with one long-term study in the Quantock Hills, southwest England, demonstrating that dwarf-shrub heath was more likely to have been lost to bracken if it was not burnt between 1938 and 1987 than if it was burnt at least once during that period (Ninnes 1995).” RSPB research report (2012)
An RSPB research report notes: “High levels of infestation with ticks have been found amongst wader chicks in some studies, with instances of associated mortality in curlew chicks (Grant et al. 1999, Newborn et al. 2009). Thus, some species may benefit from measures to control tick numbers on grouse moors.” RSPB research report (2012)
Reduced tick prevalence as a result of “tick mops” (treating sheep with a solution that kills ticks or prevents them from feeding) may benefit other birds in addition to grouse, such as waders. Mustin, Newey, Irvine, Arroyo, & Redpath, (2012)

^ Back to top ^

4. Landscape scale management.

79% of the Pennines and N. Yorks moors’ Special Protection Areas are managed for grouse.

Facts Reference
79% of the land area of the North Pennine Moors, North York Moors and South Pennine Moors Special Protection Areas are managed for grouse. Aebischer, Ewald, & Tapper, (2010)
A scientific study found that abundance of golden plover, lapwing, curlew, red grouse, skylark and hen harrier was higher when moorland was managed for grouse than when it was not. Wader, red grouse and hen harrier abundance was significantly lower following the cessation of game management. Hen harrier, golden plover, curlew and skylark were approximately two to three times more abundant when moorland was managed for grouse than when it was not. Lapwing, was virtually lost after gamekeeping ceased. Baines, Redpath, Richardson, & Thirgood, (2008)
Densities of breeding golden plover and lapwing were five times higher and those of red grouse and curlew twice as high on grouse moors as on other moors. Higher densities of red grouse, golden plover, curlew and lapwing on grouse moors than on other moorland suggest that grouse moor management may help to maintain populations of these species, all of which have recently declined in geographical range in Britain. Tharme, Green, Baines, Bainbridge, & O’Brien, (2001)
GWCT data patterns show that species range losses worsens for curlew, golden plover, lapwing, snipe and dunlin as the extent of grouse moor management diminishes. Aebischer et al., (2010)
Predator control for shooting led to subsequent increases in breeding numbers of lapwing, curlew, golden plover and red grouse, all of which declined in the absence of predator control. Fletcher, Aebischer, Baines, Foster, & Hoodless, (2010)
The Berwyn Special Area for Conservation (SAC) is the most extensive blanket bog and upland heath in Wales. By the late 1990s driven grouse shooting had ceased. Between initial surveys in 1983-5 and a further survey in 2002, lapwing were lost, golden plover declined by 90% and curlew by 79%. Numbers of Hen harriers declined by 49%. Ring ouzel declined by 80%. Changes in distribution were observed in curlew, occupying 57% fewer study plots in 2002. Targeted moorland management, including habitat enhancement and the control of generalist predators, was recommended to restore numbers of key species of ground-nesting moorland birds. Warren & Baines, (2014)

^ Back to top ^

5. Conservation of globally and nationally important species.

Up to five times more threatened wading birds supported on moors managed by gamekeepers.

Facts Reference
The Berwyn Special Area for Conservation (SAC) is the most extensive blanket bog and upland heath in Wales. By the late 1990s driven grouse shooting had ceased. Between initial surveys in 1983-5 and a further survey in 2002, lapwing were lost, golden plover declined by 90% and curlew by 79%. Numbers of hen harriers declined by 49%. Ring ouzel declined by 80%. Changes in distribution were observed in curlew, occupying 57% fewer study plots in 2002. Targeted moorland management, including habitat enhancement and the control of generalist predators, was recommended to restore numbers of key species of ground-nesting moorland birds. Warren & Baines, 2014)
The RSPB acknowledges that: “Some aspects of management for grouse shooting, such as legal predator control and habitat management (e.g. restoration/management of dwarf shrub heath, restoration of blanket bog) confer some environmental benefits.” RSPB website
GWCT data shows that species range losses worsens for curlew, golden plover, lapwing, snipe and dunlin as the extent of grouse moor management diminishes. Aebischer et al., (2010)
A scientific study found that abundance of golden plover, lapwing, curlew, red grouse, skylark and hen harrier was higher when moorland was managed for grouse than when it was not. Wader, red grouse and hen harrier abundance was significantly lower following the cessation of game management. Hen harrier, golden plover, curlew and skylark were approximately two to three times more abundant when moorland was managed for grouse than when it was not. Lapwing, was virtually lost after gamekeeping ceased. Baines, Redpath, Richardson, & Thirgood, (2008)
Densities of breeding golden plover and lapwing were five times higher and those of red grouse and curlew twice as high on grouse moors as on other moors. Higher densities of red grouse, golden plover, curlew and lapwing on grouse moors than on other moor-land suggest that grouse moor management may help to maintain populations of these species, all of which have recently declined in geographical range in Britain. Tharme et al., 2001)
Predator control for shooting led to subsequent increases in breeding numbers of lapwing, curlew, golden plover and red grouse, all of which declined in the absence of predator control. Fletcher,Aebischer, Baines, Foster, & Hoodless, (2010)

^ Back to top ^

6. Breathtaking scenery and wildlife for everyone.

90% of English grouse moors fall within a National Park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Facts Reference
Landscape quality will be affected, especially in the uplands, with scrub and bracken encroachment. Commission for Rural Communities, (2010)
Over 10 years, MA members have treated 65 square miles of invasive bracken to stop it swamping and killing other moorland plants. Moorland Association
An RSPB research report states: “Management that maintains a vigorous cover of competing species (as rotational muirburn aims to do) tends to limit, rather than encourage, the spread of bracken, with one long-term study in the Quantock Hills, southwest England, demonstrating that dwarf-shrub heath was more likely to have been lost to bracken if it was not burnt between 1938 and 1987 than if it was burnt at least once during that period (Ninnes 1995).” RSPB research report (2012)
An inquiry into the future for England’s upland communities noted: “Game shooting and associated moorland management play a significant social and cultural role in many upland communities, contribute to employment and the local economy, shape the landscape and influence the environment.” Commission for Rural Communities, (2010)
Moorland is valued for its sense of openness, and heather is a feature that contributes to the quality of the experience. Evidence review for Defra (2011)
A survey of 229 moors in Scotland investigated the degree of heather cover between the 1940s and the 1980s on moors managed for grouse and those on which grouse management had stopped. Loss of heather over time was reduced on moors managed for grouse. Grouse shooting provided an incentive to conserve heather despite economic pressures. Robertson, Park, & Barton, (2001)
An RSPB research report notes that ‘management for the sport shooting of red grouse… has been important in preventing further losses of Calluna’ (heather), and cites Robertson, Park & Barton (2001). RSPB research report (2012)

^ Back to top ^

7. Preservation of the UK’s biggest carbon store.

Managing heather helps preserve and protect the UK’s biggest carbon store in peat.

Facts Reference
Heather has an important role to play in keeping carbon locked in the earth: when heather is removed, decomposition rates increase, meaning carbon is released more quickly. Heather therefore slows the carbon release. Ward et al., (in press)
Grouse management, in turn, has been shown to slow the loss of heather. Robertson, Park, & Barton,
(2001)
Heather left unmanaged would result in a significant build-up of wildfire risk, which would have great detrimental impacts on carbon storage. RSPB research report (2012)
Burnt plots of moorland are a greater net CO2 sink than unburnt plots, as photosynthesis increases at greater rates than respiration. Ward et al.,
(2007), cited in RSPB research report (2012)
Muirburn (in combination with grazing) has been found to significantly decrease the magnitude of carbon released by uplands by up to 25% compared to unburnt areas. This is because the quantity of carbon released during the burning phase is less than that recaptured during the heather growth phase, and because older vegetation is significantly less efficient at sequestering carbon. Clay, Worrall, & Rose, (2010)
For example it has been found that as boreal forest stands age and become degenerate they turn from net carbon sinks to becoming carbon neutral. Bond-Lamberty, Wang, & Gower, (2004)
At a catchment scale muirburn and grazing contribute to a net carbon loss (locking carbon up). Worrall et al., (2009)
Furthermore, burning can open up the canopy and remove thick layers of Molinia, allowing for Sphagnum growth and promoting peat building, resulting in yet greater carbon storage. Hamilton, (2000)
Finally, the char left behind after a fire is a more resistant form of carbon and so will add to further carbon storage by increasing the size of the refractory carbon pool. Lehmann et al., (2008)
Inappropriate muirburn, for example of blanket bog (Garnett, Ineson, & Stevenson, 2000) or on too short a rotation (Clay et al., 2010), can result in net releases of carbon. However, ungrazed and unburnt areas have been found to be greater carbon sources than even inappropriately burnt areas. It is therefore important that burning follows the already agreed and established, evidence-based practices in order to maximise the carbon sequestration potential of this habitat.

Garnett, Ineson, & Stevenson, (2000)

Clay et al., (2010)

The RSPB recognises the value of controlled muirburn “to increase the suitability of the reserve for key breeding birds such as hen harriers, short-eared owls, merlins and curlews.” Muirburn is used on a number of its reserves, including Loch Garten, Hobbister and Penrhosfeilw Common.

RSPB: Loch Garten

RSPB: Hobbister

The RSPB recommends mowing, burning and grazing of heather as techniques to encourage woodlark and twite.

RSPB: Encouraging woodlark

RSPB: Encouraging twite

^ Back to top ^

8. Strengthening local communities and businesses in the uplands.

Grouse shooting in England, Wales and Scotland supports the equivalent of over 2500 full time jobs.

This is a conservative estimate.

Facts Reference
Grouse shooting in England and Wales supports 1,520 full time Equivalent jobs. Moorland Association
Grouse shooting in Scotland was estimated to support 1,072 jobs. Fraser of Allander institute report for GWCT (2010)
Grouse moors support 2,640 FTE jobs in Scotland. Scottish Land & Estates and Scottish Moorland Group fact sheet (2013)

^ Back to top ^

9. Fresh water sources and reduced flood risk.

70% of the UK’s drinking water comes from the uplands.

Facts Reference
An RSPB report (Grant et al 2012) stated: ‘The way in which grouse moors are managed may have a role to play in moderating downstream flooding.’ They also noted that ‘A number of studies have found that the installation of dams in drainsraises the water table and slows down the water discharged through the drainage network (Worrall et al. 2007b, Wilson et al. 2010b). This in turn has been found to increase water quality by decreasing the DOC content of run-off and the discolouration by up to 69% (Wallage, Holden, & McDonald, 2006).

RSPB research report (2012)

Wallage, Holden, & McDonald, (2006)

Over 10 years, MA members plugged 1,250 miles of moorland drainage ditches. Moorland Association
Upland areas in the UK account for 70% of the UK’s drinking water. Natural England
Over 10 years, MA members created 4,485 mini moorland ponds that benefit insects, water vole and amphibians, as well as catching sediment and slowing water run-off, reducing flood risk downstream Moorland Association
Inappropriate burning and management can lead to negative impacts on water quality (Yallop & Clutterbuck, 2009) and flood prevention (Dunn, 1986). However, a lack of burning would result in successional process converting heather moorland into upland woodland which would have substantial negative impacts on water availability and flood control.

Yallop & Clutterbuck, (2009)

Dunn (1986)

Burning is regulated by law, guidance and codes of practice, as well as being covered by cross-compliance regulations (GAEC 10).

Scottish Government: Muirburn Code

UK heather and grass Burning Guidance

Welsh Government Heather and Grass burning Code

^ Back to top ^

10. Wellbeing and social benefits.

At least 40,000 people take part in grouse shooting annually and the average shooting day brings 40 people together.

Facts Reference
The latest research estimates that at least 40,000 people take part in grouse shooting a year (PACEC 2014, for the Moorland Association). This figure does not include beaters, pickers up or spectators. PACEC, (2014)
Moorland is considered to be a special landscape, and is valued for its sense of openness.
Heather is a feature that contributes to the quality of the experience.
Evidence review for Defra (2011)

^ Back to top ^

11. Reduced risk of wildfires by controlled burning.

Facts Reference
Burning is regulated by law, guidance and codes of practice, as well as being covered by cross-compliance regulations (GAEC 10).

Scottish Government: Muirburn Code

UK heather and grass Burning Guidance

Welsh Government Heather and Grass burning Code

Unmanaged heather poses a significant fire hazard. Wildfires on unmanaged heather will be more intense and severe, causing significant environmental damage and releasing significant quantities of carbon. Davies, Gray, Hamilton, Legg, & Davies, (2008)
Prescribed rotational burning (as in muirburn) reduces the available fuel load and so reduces the incidence of wildfire. Allen, Harris, & Marrs, (2013)

^ Back to top ^

12. An important source of healthy food.

Facts Reference
Roast grouse has less than a third of the fat and twice the protein of roast chicken. It is high in calcium and iron with levels up to four times greater than those in roast chicken. McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods  (6th edition, 2002)
Grouse is known as the king of the game birds and is a luxuriant, widely available and healthy meat that is prized by chefs.

BASC films: The glorious twelfth

BBC Good Food: grouse

^ Back to top ^

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close