Every six years EU members are required to report to the European Commission on implementation of the Habitats Directive. In April the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) consulted on its review of how conservation measures were helping to address threats to habitats and species protected by the Directive.
BASC was concerned that references were being made to shooting as both a threat and pressure on the conservation status of forests. This was an error and BASC has been informed that the intention was to describe deer grazing, browsing and trampling as a significant problem, not shooting. BASC’s amendments were adopted by JNCC and the UK report has been revised, submitted and published.
In 2012, shooting was acknowledged as a key part of woodland management in an independent advisory report to the Government on the future of England’s forests. Earlier this year BASC called on the new body Public Forest Estate to provide free or low cost shooting opportunities in England’s woodlands and forests to help secure greater benefits for wildlife and habitat management.
It is clear from the findings of the UK report on implementation of the Habitats Directive that some conservation measures are falling short.
Shooting can only thrive where the habitat is actively managed for game species, and what is good for game is good for other wildlife. Shooting is a powerful contributor to conservation in the UK. The figures speak for themselves; every year shooters spend £250 million on conservation, in comparison the RSPB’s net income last year was just £89 million.
While many people consider an adequate contribution to biodiversity is an annual subscription to a society, shooters get out into the countryside and do the hard graft in field and wood. We spend 2.7 million days on conservation – the equivalent of 12,000 full-time jobs. The wildlife trusts manage 93,000 hectares, RSPB reserves cover 165,000 hectares, shooters actively manage 2,000,000 hectares for conservation – an area the size of Wales.
Shoots across the UK are participating in a revolutionary online wildlife and habitat mapping project managed by BASC as part of its wider Green Shoots programme.
As well as providing evidence of the huge contribution of shooting to conservation and a healthy environment Green Shoots is promoting conservation projects that help the UK to achieve its conservation targets.