The 12th of August, referred to as the Glorious 12th is the beginning of the grouse shooting season which closes on the 10th of December each year. The date holds significant traditional importance in the shooting calendar, enshrined in the England and Wales Game Act of 1831, grouse shooting in Yorkshire has close to 200 years of history.
With both proponents and opponents to shooting we strongly feel that the 12 facts listed below support the economic and environmental benefits that the shooting community contribute towards.
1) Heather moorland is extremely rare.
2) The largest single expanse of moorland is in Yorkshire.
Being such a rarity… where else would you expect the single largest expanse of moorland to be?
The answer is obvious! God’s own Country.
The North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority states that; “Moorland covers a third of the North York Moors National Park and most of the higher ground is covered in heather.” http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/discover/moorland
3) International importance.
Around 44,000 hectares of moorland in the North York Moors National Park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its heathland habitat and breeding birds. The North York Moors National Park is also recognised as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area, due to its importance for breeding birds and also plant habitat. http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/discover/moorland
4) Moorland management is beneficial to endangered wildlife.
Evidence shows that grouse moor management programs, which involve rotational heather burning and predator control in the long-term are extremely beneficial. A Natural England Evidence Review highlighted the fact in its conclusions that there was strong evidence showing that the combination of burning and predator control correlated with higher densities of red grouse, golden plover, curlew, lapwing, redshank and ring ouzel. http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/5978072?category=4993022171283456
5)The RSPB employ the same methods on some of their reserves.
The RSPB operate moorland management programs of rotational heather burning on their reserves at Loch Garten and Hobbister in order to “increase the suitability of the reserve[s] for key breeding birds such as hen harriers, short-eared owls, merlins and curlews.” http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/h/hobbister/ourwork.aspx
6) Academic research further highlights the conservation benefits of moorland management.
Research shows that on moorland, managed for grouse shooting, ground nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing, both species being of the highest conservation priority in the UK, are 3.5 times more likely to successfully raise a chick to fledgling stage.
Source: (Aebischer, N., Ewald, J. & Tapper, S., 2010. Driven grouse shooting in Britain: A form of upland management with wider conservation benefits. In: Proceedings of the World Symposium on Hunting Activities: Ecologic and Economic Benefits of Hunting. The World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities.)
7) Controlled, rotational burning significantly reduces carbon loss.
Ecological studies show the moorland management programs which involve controlled, rotational heather burning reduce carbon loss by up to 34 per-cent. This is due to the fact that controlled heather burning does not burn the peat beneath, and therefore does not affect the peatland’s ability to store both carbon and water.
Source: (Allen, K., Harris, M. & Marrs, R., 2013. Matrix modelling of prescribed burning in Calluna vulgaris – dominated moorland: short burning rotations minimize carbon loss at increased wildfire frequencies P. Kardol, ed. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50(3).
8) Unmanaged heather moorland poses a major wildfire risk.
Large expanses of unmanaged heater moorland become extremely woody and rank, which in dry weather poses a major wildfire risk due to the vast amount of fuel it creates. Wildfires have the potential to cause devastating damage as they burn with a far greater intensity and are therefore more likely to burn the peat beneath, which considerably affects the peatlands ability to store water and carbon. Whereas, with controlled heather burning, great care is taken to avoid burning the peat beneath as this would delay the regrowth of the heather and other vegetation. Evidence relating to the devastating damage of moorland wildfires is documented in this report. http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/discover/moorland/reports-and-resources/Moorland-Research-Review-2000-2006.pdf
9)Unmanaged or abandoned moorland shows decline in endangered species.
An extensive research project conducted on a former grouse moor in Berwyn, a Special Protection Area in North Wales, concluded that due to the previous grouse moor management program ending within 20 years lapwing had become extinct at the site. Furthermore, golden plover declined by 90 per-cent, and curlew declined by 79 per-cent.
Source: (Warren, P. & Baines, D., 2014. Changes in the abundance and distribution of upland breeding birds in the Berwyn Special Protection Area, North Wales 1983-2002. Birds in Wales.)
10) Grouse shooting is the main contributor to moorland management.
Grouse shooting is the main economic driving force behind the routine management of the vast expanse of heather moorland in the National Park. Investment from grouse shooting maintains the internationally important conservation status of the site. http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/enjoy-outdoors/shooting
11) Economic benefits for rural communities.
It is estimated that visiting guns spend on average: £100 per person dinner, bed and breakfast (full party of 9 guns = £1,800 including partners), lunch for nine (£20 per head) and further unknown expense on fuel, shooting equipment, shopping, etc… in rural areas per shooting day. http://web.archive.org/web/20120330225408/http://www.moorlandassociation.org/economics2.asp
12) Grouse shooting provides wider benefits.
Grouse shooting provides employment comparable to 2500 full time jobs in England, Wales and Scotland. Furthermore, it invests over £100 million every year to fund conservation projects.
Source: (PACEC, eds, Olstead, J. & Moore, S. 2014. The Value of Shooting; The economic, environmental and social contribution of shooting sports to the UK.)