2015-12-04   facebook twitter rss

Sustaining Scotland’s Moorland

A new ‘living document’ bringing together views on important upland issues in Scotland has been welcomed by the Moorland Association chairman, Robert Benson.

For the first time since the seminal A Question of Balance was published, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has drawn together its views on a number of topics and taken a look forward.

Sustaining Scotlands Moorlands

Robert explained Sustaining Scotland’s Moorland was an evolving document intended to be updated regularly as new science and best practice developed and that it would be of great benefit to all those involved in the uplands north and south of the border.

In his foreword to the GWCT document, chairman of the Scottish Moorland Group, the Earl of Hopetoun, said: “In a global context, heather moorland of the sort maintained by grouse shooting is one of the rarest habitat types and enjoys some of the highest conservation designations.

“Many of these moors were not designated “Sites of Special Scientific Interest” (SSSI’s) in spite of being grouse moors, but because they were grouse moors! We believe they are current and future refuges for wildlife in our country.

“This is well illustrated when we consider that the critically endangered curlew and lapwing still thrive on grouse moors in Scotland. There is no question that well conducted management for grouse shooting can be a force for good in the Scottish uplands.

“Its demise would pose significant challenges for the landscape, biodiversity and many small but locally important rural economies. We recognise, however, that there is always room for improvement. For example, we believe grouse moors may be able to play a greater role in protecting and enhancing peat storage, thus capturing carbon and water.

“However, with the consequently wetter ground it is likely there will be effects on agriculture and nature, so balances will need to be struck. If we are to find the correct balance for the many issues that face us in managing moorland, we need to develop new processes and reassess long-held beliefs.

“Some traditional features of grouse moor management are being challenged, which is understandable. We feel that private investors and public policy need evidence from research and demonstration to help guide these developments. Grouse moors should be considered as part of a suite of land uses, such as forestry or livestock farming, in developing a sustainable future for the uplands.

“Alternative land uses should also be assessed to demonstrate the public benefits they provide and where the trade-offs are in terms of negative impacts. We look forward to contributing to the ongoing discussion on sustainable moorlands and how grouse moor management can continue to contribute to a productive landscape, which is rich in both game and wildlife.”

Moorland Association

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