Werritty Review: Scottish Wildlife Trust urges action ‘without unnecessary delay’

Further to the publication of the Werritty Review on grouse moor management this morning (here), the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has joined other groups in calling for the Scottish Government to stop procrastinating and get on with sorting out the practices that ‘have a serious impact on our natural environment’.

There’s a strong and resolute message emerging in all these public responses which won’t have gone unnoticed by the Scottish Government.

The SWT’s statement is as follows:


The Trust has responded to the publication of the review by the Grouse Moor Management Group, commissioned by the Scottish Government and chaired by Professor Alan Werritty.

Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “This report highlights the serious impacts that unsustainable moorland management can have on Scotland’s uplands. We welcome the recommendation that the Scottish Government should signal its intent to introduce licensing unless bird of prey populations on or near shooting estates recover.

We also welcome the acceptance from those representing the sporting sector that current practices fall well short of the standards required in modern Scotland, and when every part of our society has to work together to address the serious crisis facing nature.

But, the report lacks detail on what the measures of improvement will actually be, and what resources will be available to monitor compliance. We call on the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage to set out what evidence they will use and what standards need to be met, to show whether regulation is required.

Since this report was commissioned in 2017 there has been a groundswell in awareness that nature is in crisis. The current climate and ecological emergencies require swift and decisive action, and should mean the Scottish Government significantly shortens the five-year grace period that has been suggested.

It’s important to remember that this report has come about due to the ongoing and unacceptable persecution of birds of prey in Scotland. We strongly support the recent announcements on tougher sentences for wildlife crimes, as well as increased resources for Police Scotland to be able to better respond to incidents.

However, the issues surrounding moorland management go far beyond the illegal killing of wildlife. They include the burning of large areas of heather, and the unsustainable culling of mountain hares. All of these practices have a serious impact on our natural environment.

We believe the Scottish Government should recognise there is an opportunity to restore Scotland’s iconic upland habitats to their full potential, and ensure action is taken without unnecessary delay.”



7 thoughts on “Werritty Review: Scottish Wildlife Trust urges action ‘without unnecessary delay’”

  1. Yet another fudge. Grouse shooting per se is an unnecessary and cruel way to treat any wild bird or animal. It is offensive to refer to it as a sport. The belief thatA regulation could eliminate illegal ‘pest control’ is a fantasy , as gamekeepers are devious and resolute. Don’t we all know that by now? The only way to curtail their evil ways is to introduce legislation banning the wide scale slaughter of anything that the so-called sport is banished from our land. It’s so out of date, such a bold move by the UK Government would lead the way to a wider appreciation of our wildlife and the laws of nature. I for one find the SWT’s policy a disappointing compromise. Tradition doesn’t need to last forever.

  2. Whether, as Iain Gibson suggests, the pursuit and killing a wild animal is never justified is a moot point, but manipulating the Scottish uplands to ensure that numbers of grouse are considerably higher than would ever be possible in a “normal” ecosystem certainly is not. I regret the lack of clear details of how any licencing regime would be implemented and I certainly am against any delay to implementing such a regime, to receive evidence of potential recovery of bird of prey numbers, evidence which is in the public domain already. I have written to Rosanna Cunningham to say that any delay in acting is totally unjustified and smacks of a failure of the government to face down the powerful lobby that is the driven grouse industry and their representatives.

  3. Excellent response from the Scottish Wildlife Trust: it is so important not to just look at the persecution of birds of prey but the gratuitous slaughter of amphibians, reptiles, insects and mammals also associated with these out-dated management practices.

    Even if, by some chance, the BOP persecution stopped, the environmental cost of the associated practices is unsustainable for all of our wildlife.

    1. Spot on! For one thing exciting potential for reducing flood risk by ecological restoration in the uplands is being compromised/constrained by ‘management’ for grouse shooting. Werrity should have asked the question is getting bigger grouse bags more important than keeping homes, businesses and shops dry?

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