The socio-economic benefits associated with grouse shooting are wide ranging and far reaching. From gamekeepers to shop owners, this page explores the people of the moor and how they rely on managed moorland to support their businesses.
Grouse shooting and moorland management play a significant social and cultural role in upland communities. They provide a strong incentive for investment in the UK’s uplands and remote rural areas, providing valuable employment and important support for a range of businesses.
Studies show that when grouse shooting stops, this has a significant impact on the local economy and the people of the moor.
Header photo by Keith Sykes
Today is an iconic date in the rural calendar. Visit any properly managed moor to see why it is known as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.
The culmination of many thousands of hours of conservation work throughout the rest of the year is there for all to see. And it is more important than ever this year, as it sends a clear signal that our upland communities are back in business after the disruption and turmoil caused by Covid-19.
B&Bs, hotels, restaurants, cafés and garages are just a few examples of those businesses that depend on the annual influx of visitors to Yorkshire’s amazing uplands that begins with the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.
The grouse shooting season that runs from today until 10 December provides a crucial boost to these fragile parts of our rural economy, extending the tourism season deep into the autumn months. Not to put too fine a point on it, businesses and livelihoods rely on those who visit our uplands to enjoy the wild harvest.
Gareth Dockerty, uplands officer at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), said:
Mr Dockerty also explained how this landscape is testament to the investment in time, staff and money by those who use the moors for shooting.
Grouse shooting in England, Scotland and Wales supports the equivalent of over 2,500 full-time jobs and is worth in excess of £100m to the economy annually.
“Such an array of benefits to wildlife, people and the natural environment doesn’t come without significant investment,” he added.
“Somebody has to manage the moors, otherwise the heather would quickly grow out of control and become a fire risk. Properly managed moors are also a haven for globally important species. Without grouse shooting and its associated investment, we would not have the unique landscapes and habitat we see today.”
ASC chairman Eoghan Cameron said:
“These custodians of the countryside are driven by a genuine, unwavering passion for our moors, and the people and wildlife that live on them. So let us celebrate the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ and what it means for the health and sustainability of the uplands of northern England.”
A day on the fell is about far more than the shooting
It’s mid-morning. Friends new and old recline in the heather for refreshments. Flasks and snacks emerge. The group is an interesting mix of people: a GP, a joiner, a milkman, a mechanic – some from the locality, others escaping city life. Slipped guns, flags and happy, panting dogs lay about them.
As they sit, laughing and conversing, a thousand lungfuls of clean, upland air already working its magic, the scent of heather pollen drifts on a breeze. Swallows pick off insects on the wing up high, pipits flit from boulder to boulder. On the horizon, half a mile away, a roe deer breaks the skyline. The landscape around them is alive… You see, it’s about so much more than the shooting.
Soon the group is on its feet again, walking on through flourishing cottongrass and cross-leaved heath, just a few months ago home to fledging waders. Cock grouse cackle as small coveys lift and swing, agile and elegant across the pink-stained patchwork before them. Shots punctuate the buzz and the birdsong, just as lichen-covered rocks punctuate the challenging terrain.
Picking a careful path through the bright-green, sponge-like sphagnum moss, the group push on with windburnt faces and weary legs. More lungfuls of that tonic-like fresh air. What a joy to be up on the fell.
As the day ages, they cross paths with others who have gone out of their way to be up on the moor, too – some for work, others for pleasure. Caps are tipped to ramblers, cyclists, the beekeeper, the shepherd. Perhaps they’ll share a pint or two in the village pub later.
The team count themselves lucky, for they are able to enjoy such a landscape in all its glory, and in good company. It is an antidote to the pressures of modern-day life – a pure relief. And they know what it is that makes it all possible. Pulling the trigger is but a tiny part of something much greater. They appreciate the bigger picture… The habitat management, the predator control, the benefits to local businesses, the sense of community, the abundance of wildlife, the harvest of a delicious and sustainable wild food… This is why they are there.