New reports published on socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors

Two days ago the Scottish Government published a series of new reports on the socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors.

This commissioned research is all tied up with the Werritty Review (for which we’re still waiting for a Government response, almost one year later).

I haven’t read any of these reports yet and it’ll probably take some time to get through them all.

There are five reports in all – a summary report and four separate technical reports, as follows:

The research group has written a short overview (here) explaining the background to the work and here’s what they say about each of the technical reports:

Part 1 – Socioeconomic impacts of moorland use

This research analysed 24 moorland use case studies. The case studies were selected systematically to include a range of different land uses, enterprise scales, management intensities and owner motivations. The results provide indicative estimates of the extent of socio-economic impacts arising from driven and walked up grouse shooting alongside those arising from alternative moorland uses – specifically: deer management, sheep grazing, afforestation and woodland creation, renewable energy and conservation management.

Part 2 – Employment Rights of Gamekeepers

This work helps deliver a Programme for Government commitment to undertake “work in relation to protecting gamekeepers’ employment and other rights”. 

The results from our survey of gamekeepers provides unique insights into wage rates, tied housing and employment terms, as well as sentiments and experiences from being a gamekeeper in Scotland.

Part 3 – Mapping the areas and management intensity of moorland actively managed for grouse

This research built on work undertaken in Phase 1 and provides new insights into strip burning on moorland areas associated with grouse shooting. 

Alongside updates of the extent of muirburn and its change over time, characterisation of grouse butt density (butts per km2) was also improved through more nuanced demarcation of the area of moorland associated with grouse shooting. 

Part 4 – Biodiversity considerations on grouse moors

This work used the outputs from the mapping exercise (specifically strip burning intensity) and overlaid species data.

This allowed researchers to assess the effect of grouse moor management intensity on the distribution of selected upland species where the association between species distribution and grouse moor management is less well understood or unknown (Birch, Green hairstreak butterfly, Curlew, Merlin, Lesser redpoll, Bilberry / blaeberry, Adder, Golden plover, Kestrel, Whinchat).

Meanwhile, the RSPB issued a press release in response to the publication of these reports:

RSPB Scotland responds to socio-economic review of grouse shooting in Scotland

SRUC have today released a series of reports assessing socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors and the employment rights of gamekeepers.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “We welcome the production of these socio-economic reports. We do not take argument with the fact that grouse moor management may produce local economic benefits, however it is also equally important that these benefits are kept in proportion and not exaggerated. We do not think these economic benefits detract either from the need to take action over the increasing harms that intensive driven grouse shooting is causing to the environment and wider costs to society in the context of the climate and nature emergencies. The Werritty Review itself was primarily initiated to address the longstanding issue illegal killing of birds of prey, which is strongly linked to grouse shooting, and the need to address this issue has not gone away. We support the immediate introduction of licensing of driven grouse shooting to protect birds of prey alongside other public interests. Licensing would not result in a cessation of grouse shooting, and it can be delivered with minimum bureaucracy, therefore responsible land managers should have nothing to fear from his approach”.


UPDATE 7th November 2020: Grouse moor report ‘ignores key issues’, say Scottish Greens (here)

UPDATE 12th November 2020: Government report shows driven grouse shooting is ‘economically unviable’ says Scottish think tank (here)

9 thoughts on “New reports published on socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts of driven grouse moors”

  1. We need to remember that those who slash and burn down the world’s rain forests can also claim there is a significant socio-economic benefit to the low-paid people who then manage the land for cattle farming, their families and the communities that have invaded the forests. They may also point to a few of the species that benefit from these more open treeless habitats. The only difference is that our uplands were invaded some two centuries ago by those who would abuse and degrade them to their own, selfish ends. Time for a change.

  2. Three areas of Muirburn in the Glen Lethnot and Glenesk area today consisting of six separate fires. Visible from Montrose!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s