A overhead view of a river bend
A overhead view of a river bend

The natural capital benefits of shooting

What is natural capital?

Natural capital is the sum of the financial and social benefits we derive from our natural environment. It’s a concept which has increasingly shaped international and national environmental policies to date, and is at the core of the government’s England Environmental Improvement Plan and the forthcoming equivalent in Scotland. 

Understanding that UK shooting is diverse and provides recreation for many people across the country, BASC wanted to determine the other benefits that come from its influence on the environment, and how policy-makers, landowners and farmers can use those benefits in the land-management choices they make.

BASC natural capital report 2024

BASC published its inaugural natural capital report in March 2024 to determine the wider impact of shooting. 
It provides UK and home country values under four overarching groups of benefits:
  • Carbon capture
  • Public health savings
  • Recreation
  • Food and forestry.
Together, the benefits of shooting total more than £1.1 billion per annum.

Report summary

Read our summary of the natural capital value of each of these four elements below. You can also read the report in full at the bottom of this page.

Carbon - £382 million

The carbon sequestration benefits of shooting’s management of land and species across woodland, wetland and saltmarsh has never been assessed and valued before. 

The capture, removal and storage of atmospheric carbon is critical to mitigating the impacts of climate change. The report valued shooting’s habitat creation and management work, alongside deer and grey squirrel management, at £382 million.

Public health - £64 million

The public health savings for NHS and local authority budgets are valued at £64.3 million. This is made up of physical health benefits (£20m), and mental health benefits (£6.7m) for people involved in shooting. 

There is an additional benefit (£37.6m) from air pollutants removed by woodland created and managed for shooting.
woodland 787
grey squirrel on a tree

Recreation - £608 million

The largest benefit in monetary terms is the recreational value generated by those who shoot or support shooting, such as beaters and pickers-up. This comes in at £571.7 million from over three million days of activity spread across rural parts of the UK.

Additionally, the public benefit from an enhanced recreational experience from accessing more diverse and rich habitats as a result of shooting, is valued at £35.9 million.

Food and forestry - £100 million

The benefits for food production and forestry productivity that come from shooting total approximately £100 million. 

Shooting itself harvests high-quality animal protein worth more than £44 million. The management of species to minimise crop losses for farmers is worth £43 million a year. Similarly, the management of deer and grey squirrels prevents a loss of over £12 million in timber output.

The natural capital benefits of shooting report

You can read the report in its entirety, including a full breakdown of the four key benefit areas, in the The natural capital benefits of shooting report below. The report is also available to download here.