BASC has welcomed the government’s commitment to ensuring a ‘sustainable, mutually beneficial’ relationship between shooting and conservation.
In its response to an online petition calling for a study into the economic benefit of grouse shooting, the government has acknowledged shooting’s importance to wildlife and habitat conservation and has highlighted its benefits to rural economies.
Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “We welcome the government’s support for shooting and grouse shooting, in particular, and we are pleased it recognises the important work of moorland owners, shoot managers and keepers.
“BASC is pledging to continue working with government to ensure our precious moors deliver environmental and public benefit. Grouse shooting is worth an estimated £100 million across Great Britain each year and supports more than 2,500 full-time jobs. It also supports the conservation of globally threatened habitat and the important species that thrive on it.”
The government said: “Shooting activities bring many benefits to the rural economy and can, in many cases, be beneficial for wildlife and habitat conservation.
“We also recognise the important of the ecosystem services provided by the natural environment and are working to protect and maximise these services. We will continue work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.
“Grouse shooting takes place in upland areas, which are important for delivering a range of valuable ecosystem services, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing.”
The government also called on landowners to work closely with Natural England to continue improving upland habitats.
Its statement added: “The Government is aware that the UK uplands have 75 per cent of the world’s remaining heather moorland and about 13 per cent of the world’s blanket bog.
“The Government recognises that healthy, active peat provides good habitat for grouse as well as numerous environmental benefits and ecosystem services.
“Natural England is working with landowners of grouse moors to develop voluntary agreements, which include vegetation management principles for the various habitats on grouse moors.
“These agreements aim to reverse habitat degradation and help landowners sustainably manage and restore upland peatland habitats. The Government encourages land managers to work closely with Natural England to put voluntary agreements in place for all the benefits they bring to moor owners and to the environment.”
In referencing the 2014 PACEC report into the value of shooting, the government added that it: “….recognises the benefits that grouse shooting, and shooting more widely, bring to individuals, the environment and the rural economy.
“The Government therefore continues to support shooting, recognising it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected and we ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.”