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Yorkshire Times
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8:32 AM 13th August 2021
nature

Grouse Season Provides Boost For Conservation And Hard-hit Rural Businesses

The start of the grouse shooting season got under way today (12 August) in the wake of new research that underlines the social, economic and environmental importance of moorland management.

Grouse shooting on the first day of the season in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire -  credit Jonathan Pow
Grouse shooting on the first day of the season in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire - credit Jonathan Pow
This year’s season is expected to be particularly important to rural areas as they recover from the impact of lockdown.

Research published earlier this week by the University of Northampton showed that alternative uses for moorland would not produce the multiple benefits that grouse shooting provides.

Mark Cunliffe-Lister, chair of the Moorland Association said:
“The research published this week shows that moorland management is important and there are many benefits aside from the revenue generated by shooting.

“We are wholly committed to playing our part in tackling climate change and improving biodiversity and that goes from strength to strength. All of our conservation work – with one milllion pounds a week spent – is underpinned by shooting a sustainable harvest of grouse.”

Young beaters help on the first day of the grouse season - credit Jonathan Pow
Young beaters help on the first day of the grouse season - credit Jonathan Pow
This season is getting off to a quiet start due mainly to poor weather conditions in April and May. A few moors in Yorkshire are starting their shooting programme today, with many choosing to wait until later in the season.

Hospitality and tourism businesses in rural areas have taken a hit from the past 12 months of restrictions. A good grouse season provides direct employment to seasonal and permanent staff and generates vital revenue for local pubs, hotels, shops and other rural businesses outside of the peak tourist months.

In England grouse moor management creates 42,500 work-days a year and is responsible for over 1,500 full-time jobs. Of these, 700 are directly involved in grouse moor management, with a further 820 jobs in related services and industries.

First day of grouse shooting in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire - credit Jonathan Pow
First day of grouse shooting in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire - credit Jonathan Pow
Moors managed for red grouse also provide the ideal habitat for other moorland-specialist birds, in particular the much-loved curlew, lapwing and golden plover. 90 per cent of grouse moors in the north of England have nesting curlew, in sharp contrast to a severe decline in their number in England generally.

Birds of prey including the hen harrier and merlin are also present in higher numbers on managed moorland, and nest here more successfully. This year nearly 80 per cent of hen harrier nests in England are on grouse moors.

Moorland Association members spend £52.5 million a year on moorland conservation which continues year-round whether or not the season is successful.