‘Pro-shooting policy’ will aid Government’s tree strategy, says BASC

The UK’s largest shooting organisation is calling on the Government to work with the shooting community to deliver on its 25-Year Environment Plan.

BASC’s response to the Government’s tree strategy consultation centres on how the shooting community plays an integral role in all four strands of the strategy. The Government’s aims will be bolstered if they recognise the substantial influence and investment people who shoot put into woodland and tree creation and management.

Expanding and connecting woodlands:

Research indicates shooting manages 500,000ha of woodland and 100,000ha of copses. Shooting plays a substantial role in the creation and management of woodland and trees. BASC believes the Government would benefit from encouraging private investment from shooting to both look after our existing woodland resource and to help exceed its target of 30,000ha more woodland per year.

Protecting and improving our trees and woodlands:

Shooting is key in limiting damage to trees from deer and grey squirrels. Land managers require support for pest control and fencing to reduce our reliance on plastic tree guards. Requiring and incentivising deer population and grey squirrel management as part of grant or felling agreements will aid the strategy and mean public money spent on planting trees is not wasted by insufficient deer and pest control.

Engaging people with trees and woodlands:

Shooting is an incentive for rural and urban people to access and enjoy woodland. The Personal Value of Shooting report showcases the exercise, social activity and well-being benefits as a result of shooting. This section of the consultation is very urban-focused, but Government needs to remember that many people who shoot live in urban areas and travel out to manage and benefit from trees in the wider rural landscape.

Supporting the economy:  

Shooting is worth more than £250 million per year for conservation and we know that the equivalent of 1,600 full-time jobs are spent by shooters on increasing and managing woodlands and trees. Recognising the importance of shooting to the rural economy and the creation and management of woodlands because of shooting with a pro-shooting policy will mean the government’s strategy will benefit from this effort and also improve the value for money provided to the taxpayer from future schemes.

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said: “With two thirds of rural Britain managed for shooting, and expertise overflowing in the sector – from woodland management and natural regeneration, to deer and pest management – the Government requires a pro-shooting policy to be successful and provide best value for money to the public purse. 

“BASC is committed to seeing the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan succeed because shooting and conservation are intrinsically linked and we can assist in that success for future generations.

“Trees are the lifeblood of many shoots and we know the huge value they give not just ourselves in terms of wellbeing but also society through locking up carbon and the production of timber and food through venison and other game meat.  A pro-shooting policy in the government’s tree strategy is a sensible option to make best use of a natural ally.”