BASC has supported Prince William’s stance in highlighting shooting’s role in conservation home and abroad following renewed criticism of so-called ‘Trophy Hunting’.
Commercial hunting in Africa has secured notable successes, including the recovery of the Blesbok antelope from the brink of extinction and the sustainable management of white rhinos to population levels dramatically improved from the turn of the last century.
While such successes rarely makes headlines in the national press, conservation experts argue that such striking progress is only possible due to the money brought in by regulated, properly-controlled commercial shooting.
And that stance is supported closer to home by figures which show that shooting is worth £2 billion a year to the UK economy and provides significant conservation benefits.
Richard Ali, chief executive of BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, said: “To criticise commercial hunting and shooting in this country and abroad is to decry the valuable role it plays in essential conservation work.
“Prince William is a champion of conservation and his recent comments about commercial shooting show a deep understanding of the benefits of shooting.
“Independently-collected figures clearly show shooting’s contribution to the UK. Similarly, properly-regulated shooting in other countries plainly has a valuable role in the protection of habitats and wildlife.
“To suggest otherwise, with ill-informed comments and headlines, is to do a dis-service to work which, quite frankly, keeps alive on a large scale the very animals people have become so emotional about.”
According to the independent Value of Shooting report, shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the UK’s rural land area; almost two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting.
Nearly £250 million a year is spent on conservation and habitat management which benefits a wide range of wildlife. People who shoot put in 3.9 million work days on conservation every year – the equivalent of 16,000 full-time conservation jobs.
Shooting delivers local and landscape-scale conservation projects through initiatives such as BASC’s Green Shoots Programme, which has been credited with improving the environment and biodiversity.
Beyond the conservation benefits, the report reveals that shooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs. People who shoot spend £2.5 billion each year on goods and services, bringing income into rural areas, particularly in the low-season for tourism. The research shows that an established shoot generates local economic benefits for businesses in a radius of up to fifteen miles.