Moorland management has ‘key role’ to play in delivering for nature

Moorland management in Scotland has a key role to play in the future in order to deliver important benefits for the environment, the economy and nature, a major rural conference has heard.

The Moorland Conference, organised by the rural business organisation, Scottish Land & Estates, featured contributions from Jim Fairlie MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, and NatureScot, which is preparing to introduce a new licensing scheme for grouse shooting.

Ross Ewing, Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates added, “Government and its agencies have recognised the contribution that is made by grouse shooting and moorland management across rural communities and we hope that, as licensing is introduced, we can move on from an often-polarised debate towards greater co-operation and collaboration across the sector in order to achieve many shared conservation and socio-economic goals.

“We now have robust legal safeguards which should mean licences are only suspended or revoked where there is clear evidence of a relevant offence having been committed on the land by a relevant person. There is still a significant amount of change still to be implemented – including muirburn licensing, trap licensing, a new muirburn code and a wider review of species licensing.”

More than 200 delegates from across the sector attended the conference held near Dunkeld, Perthshire, sponsored by law firm Levy & McRae, The House of Bruar and Spratt’s Game Foods.

Dee Ward, chair of Scottish Land & Estates, told the conference, “Moorland management has a key role to play in delivering so much of what the Scottish Government aspires to achieve – whether it be flourishing biodiversity, climate-resilient landscapes or a thriving rural economy. Moorland management and grouse shooting delivers these benefits in spades, and we are looking forward to ensuring it continues to do so.

“Research shows beyond doubt that grouse moor management provides more jobs per acre than any other land use and the latest Value of Shooting Report has revealed that shooting providers and volunteers carry out £20m worth of conservation work in Scotland per year.

“The licensing of grouse shooting was never going to be easy to accept, but I genuinely believe we have ended up with a scheme that is broadly fit for purpose and will allow our sector to continue to deliver tangible benefits.”

Jim Fairlie, MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, told the conference the Scottish Government valued the contribution of moorland management, the new licensing scheme being introduced would be workable and grouse moor managers operating within the law had nothing to fear.

Donald Fraser, Head of Wildlife Management, NatureScot, outlined how the new licensing scheme will work when it is introduced before the start of the grouse shooting season on 12 August. He said, “Moorlands are an important part of Scotland’s upland habitats. They include significant areas of peatland and support biodiversity such as birds of prey and ground nesting birds. We have been working closely with stakeholders to develop a workable licensing scheme for grouse shooting that will act as a strong deterrent against raptor persecution, while helping to ensure that moorlands are managed sustainably and play a role in helping to tackle the nature and climate crises.”

Support a practical, investable and inclusive narrative for land use.

Sign-up to receive our newsletter

Newsletter Signup
Contribute for just £2.50 per week
Skip to content