Grouse moor owners have said they take ‘great pride’ in their environmental commitment as the shooting season got under way.
Speaking on a moor in Yorkshire on the ‘Glorious 12th’, Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “Grouse moors are a friend of the environment, not an enemy. If our moors were not managed for grouse shooting we simply would not have the same abundance of wildlife. Moors also play a major part in capturing carbon and slowing the flow of water mitigating the effects of flooding.
“We also know that controlled heather burning - a necessary part of moorland restoration - helps prevent the spread and reduce the severity of wildfires which have devastated many parts of the uplands in recent times.”
Anderson said that grouse moors could ‘hold their heads high’ in terms of their social, economic and environmental contribution and questioned the call by the Labour Party for a review into grouse shooting.
She said: “Many Labour MPs who have come to visit the moors have discovered the enormous contribution gamekeepers and private investment makes to managing the moors with knock on benefits to the local rural economy and social cohesion. Wildlife is bucking national trends of decline, Hen Harriers have had a record breeding season and work with Government to safeguard our peatlands to store carbon and combat climate change is in full swing.
“We should also remember the vital importance of grouse shooting to fragile rural communities. It creates jobs and helps sustain a wide range of rural businesses and we hope that this is something politicians of all persuasions recognise. We think that it would be much more constructive for many more MPs to visit moors before deciding that a review is necessary.”