Countryside organisations urge Government to back new ‘blueprint’ for future of shooting

Leading countryside organisations have today (Friday October 9) urged the Government to support a new blueprint for the shooting sector which aims to deliver a ‘game changing’ benefit for the environment. 

The guidelines provide the most comprehensive framework to date for the creation, management and restoration of habitat for wildlife.

The blueprint has been adopted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Countryside Alliance (CA), the Moorland Association (MA), the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), the British Game Alliance (BGA), the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Game Farmers’ Association, representing thousands of members of the shooting community.

The ‘Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management’ have been developed by scientists at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and are designed to complement the Government’s 25-year environmental plan.

The countryside organisations have today written to the Environment Secretary George Eustice, urging the Government to endorse the guidelines which provide a framework for the future of shooting.

A spokesperson for the organisations said: “Decades of high-quality research show that when these principles are put into action, all forms of game management, including shoots where birds are released, can deliver the net biodiversity gain that all shoots should aim for.

“At a time when shooting is increasingly under scrutiny, we believe these principles and guidelines provide an excellent framework that shooting can willingly embrace and put into action. The evidence suggests that this could be a workable and durable arrangement built on science and more effective than increased regulation. 

“We would be very grateful if Defra could endorse these principles. The Government’s support will encourage everyone involved in game shooting to work to achieve the benefits for the environment that game shooting can deliver.”

The principles were developed with the support of other organisations and, vitally, the shoots and shooting community who need to follow them. Draft principles were written by the GWCT in Autumn 2019, before being discussed at 19 private shoot briefing meetings, each with an audience of approximately 30 shoots, including some large commercial shoot operations.

An online consultation via the GWCT website gathered more than 340 responses, with over 90 per cent support for the principles

The principles are based on agreed UK industry codes of practice, such as the Code of Good Shooting Practice and British Game Alliance standards, the UK legislative framework (e.g. Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011) and align with international guidelines on sustainable use of natural resources, including the Bern Convention and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Rt Hon George Eustice MP
Secretary of State
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

8 October 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management

Our organisations, as members of the Shoot Liaison Committee (SLC), promote sustainable game shooting and represent the bulk of the UK’s shooting community.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which advises the SLC, has launched 12 key principles to support wildlife recovery alongside sustainable gamebird management. The principles draw on decades of research by GWCT scientists and others and, when followed, deliver net biodiversity gains.

The principles were developed with the support of other organisations and, vitally, the shoots and shooting community who need to follow them. Draft principles were written by the GWCT in Autumn 2019, before being discussed at 19 private shoot briefing meetings, each with an audience of approximately 30 shoots, including some large commercial shoot operations. An online consultation secured 90 per cent support for the principles.

This ‘blueprint’ for the shooting sector has now been adopted by our organisations as we firmly believe it will provide real benefits for wildlife and the environment. The principles provide a framework for the future of our sector, underpinning the well-established Code of Good Shooting Practice.

We are encouraging all gamekeepers and shoot managers to embrace these principles and to apply them across the UK.

The guidelines also complement the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan – including the creation, management and restoration of habitat specifically for wildlife.

We would be very grateful if Defra could endorse these principles. The Government’s support will encourage everyone involved in game shooting to work to achieve the benefits for wildlife and the environment that game shooting can deliver.

Yours sincerely,