Friday, 23 August 2013

Grouse moors can help diversity and the economy

Adam Smith is Director Scotland for Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust but he is also a Board Member of The Heather Trust.  He has been punching his weight in the pages of The Scotsman and I recommend his article to anyone with an interest in the management of our moorland and upland areas.

I support and endorse his views completely, which are at the core of The Heather Trust.

Balanced management of our moorlands and uplands is essential if we are to hold onto them as vibrant dynamic areas of the country that support society (through their natural (ecosystem) services), maintain their unique ranges of habitats and species, continue to underpin many cultural activities,  provide an income that supports the people and communities that live in these areas that in turn maintain the features that make these areas so attractive for visitors.  It is a complicated list of inter-related features and activities but, as Adam has pointed out, if we allow these areas to unravel, as has happened in parts of the UK, we are left with impoverished land that is denuded of all the features that make the areas so special.

It is far from being all bad news and there are many areas where sensitive management is delivering all the benefits I have outlined, but even in these exemplar areas there is room for improvement.  Adam has singled out Wales as a case study where it has gone wrong and I share his concerns.  This was why I was pleased to have been invited to contribute to an embryonic Moorland Initiative that the CLA is leading in Wales that is promoting the benefits that CLA members could bring to the uplands in Wales if they are given encouragement.  It is an issue that I will be pleased to support in an effort to reverse the decline of the Welsh moorlands and move away from the 'silent spring' state.

Grouse shooting is not for everyone, and it is not appropriate in all moorland areas, but where it does work it provides a focus for income generation and input that acts as a catalyst for activity that spins off to provide much wider benefits to the local area and to the habitats and species that live in these areas.