Caution needed over apparent ‘biodiversity benefits’ from sale of Glenprosen Estate in Angus Glens

Last week news emerged that Scottish Government agency Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS, formerly known as Forestry Commission Scotland) was in the process of purchasing a large grouse-shooting estate in the Angus Glens, Glenprosen Estate, for the estimated sum of £25 million (e.g. news reports here and here).

Mainstream media focused on the reported secrecy of the sale, which doesn’t align with the Scottish Government’s promises to get rid of ‘backroom’ land sales, but that isn’t the focus of this blog.

Superficially, the news that an Angus Glens grouse shooting estate is about to be sold to FLS for ‘woodland creation and biodiversity’ sounds like very good news indeed. Regular blog readers will know that the Angus Glens has long been a blackspot for the illegal killing of birds of prey, and only a few weeks ago I was writing about the latest victims: nine raptors (8 x buzzards, 1 x sparrowhawk) that had been found shot and stuffed in bags on another Angus Glens grouse-shooting estate (see here), so a change of management with a focus on increasing biodiversity could only be a good thing in this region, right?

Well, not so fast.

Nick Kempe, who writes the excellently-researched ParksWatchScotland blog, has published a very different view of what might be going on at GlenProsen.

According to Nick, details of the sale are sketchy, even concerning the extent of the land being bought, which may or may not extend further than Glenprosen Estate, and importantly, whether or not the shooting rights are included in the sale. He also exposes some dodgy-looking data on the supposed density of red deer on the estate and has previously written about the extensive use of traps for killing native predators.

[Photo by Nick Kempe]

Of most interest (to me) is this paragraph in Nick’s latest blog:

At present, the only clue as to FLS’ intentions are the press reports that it wants to plant trees and there has been no mention of any wider conservation purpose.  This is important.  If the sporting and/or grazing rights are not included in the sale, there will be nothing to prevent the sorry history of land mis-use continuing outside the planted areas, while the public will incur yet more expense erecting fences to protect trees“.

And his commentary about the Sitka spruce plantation in the glen, already managed by FLS:

In the absence of statements to the contrary, there is  a real risk that FLS intends to manage the whole of Glen Prosen in this way, adding to the environmental damage rather than restoring it“.

Definitely one to watch.

I’d encourage you to read Nick’s blog post here and be cautious about welcoming what might be coming on this estate.

8 thoughts on “Caution needed over apparent ‘biodiversity benefits’ from sale of Glenprosen Estate in Angus Glens”

  1. I subscribe to Nick Kempe’s blog: it is astonishing how much research he puts into his posts – a bit like yourself (is this too sycophantic?)

  2. Nick’s worries reflect my own. This is how capital operates in dubious schemes that they know will create opposition…. be it African Safari Parks or Scottish Glens. I’m also keeping an eye on the rewilders Jewel in the crown, Mar Lodge as great play was given to the rumour that Driven Grouse Moor shooting was to cease. However an article in the Guardian on the 11th August 2019 was amended the next day — the 12th — to clarify “that is was muirburning that was banned at Mar Lodge. not Driven Grouse Shooting specifically.”
    “When supping with the Devil one should use a long spoon”
    As true today as it was when it was coined in the 14th century.

    1. Why is grouse shooting the great evil?more Raptors are living on grouse moors than any rspb reserves. Your blinded by negative propaganda put out by multi million pound organisations like rspb etc.mass tree planting will be just as bad as building housing on a grouse moor.look at the bird flu on bird reserves compared to a marsh let for shooting. I’ve watched birds all my life and manage their breeding habitats on my own land just as a grouse moor owner does.people need to open their eyes and not be brainwashed by propaganda regarding house moors.

      1. Hi Skylark, for the sake of avoiding argument, let’s ditch any reference to the propaganda / information / dis-information media war. I reckon the single best thing anyone on any side of the argument can do is resolve to spend time doing your own research on foot on the “best” grouse moors (look them in up on one of those silly lists they like doing in The Field). Carve each estate up on a map and study esch bit methodically with a number of visits through the year. You will find that such is the level of intensive modern “agent led” management of birds, beasts & vegetation these days – that there is genuinely a stunningly evident black-hole of missing flora and fauna that ought to be there (especially, though not just, breeding raptors). I make this appeal to you in the knowledge that many Mr Average shooting enthusiasts are genuinely innocently unaware of just how far things have gone on the big and wanna-be-big name grouse moors in the last twenty years. And if they put the footslog and the hours in on said moors I reckon most would think “bloody hell – RSPB, Wild Justice, RPUK, Revive, “Packham” and the rest do actually have a point”. Whether they then go on to concede the point in public is however another matter.

  3. Rather than continually whingeing, in the absence of any clear plan or information might it not be a good idea to put forward some ideas on what the raptor protection community might like to happen to this estate ? Waiting for someone else to do something you don’t like always leaves you on the defensive. At worst why not lay down some lines in the sand ? At best, you never know, the people responsible for the decisions might actually listen !

  4. Everyone has an angle on this story, including Nick Kempe. Pinches of salt to be taken with them all.

  5. If blanket afforestation is to take place by FLS on this grouse moor this is just as bad for ground nesting raptors as some of the grouse moors where raptor persecution takes place. During the 1980s a lot of moorland in Moray where I live was blanketed in sitka spruce and lodgepole pine. This planting destroyed the nest sites of several hen harriers and merlins. Although some areas were left unplanted the owners lost interest in grouse shooting and numbers of foxes and crows increased. They took a heavy toll of any harriers and merlins attempting to continue to nest in the unplanted moorland and among the young trees.

    There was two areas of moorland that was left unplanted between areas of forestry that I hoped would eventually be colonised by hen harriers and merlins because the heather had grown tall but I was hugely disappointed last year to note these areas had been planted with trees as well. What was even worse was the fact that the heather was flail mowed before the trees were planted making the moorland totally useless for breeding hen harriers and merlins.

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