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RURAL ORGANISATIONS URGE GOVERNMENT TO BACK NEW ‘BLUEPRINT’ FOR FUTURE OF SHOOTING

Scotland’s rural organisations have written to the Scottish Government today to unveil a new blueprint for the shooting sector which can deliver major benefits for the environment.

RURAL ORGANISATIONS URGE GOVERNMENT TO BACK NEW ‘BLUEPRINT’ FOR FUTURE OF SHOOTING

The guidelines provide the most comprehensive framework to date for the creation, management and restoration of habitat for wildlife.

The ‘Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management’ have been developed by scientists at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and align with international guidelines on sustainable use of natural resources, including the Bern Convention and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Rural Environment Land Management (RELM), an informal alliance of Scottish rural organisations, has contacted NatureScot and the Scottish Government urging Ministers to endorse the guidelines which provide a sound basis for the governance of shooting.

A spokesperson for the organisations said:

“The new principles developed by GWCT set the very best international standards for land managers to work to. Estates across Scotland already have an abundance of wildlife on their land but there is a need to ensure benchmarks are set by which standards can be accurately measured.

“We recognise the focus on gamebird shooting, particularly driven grouse shooting, and that is why it was important that our organisations wrote to government to detail the new measures we are taking to deliver for wildlife and the environment. It is in all our interests – government, conservationists and land managers – to work closely to ensure a bright future for Scotland’s moors.”

With the Scottish Government still reviewing the recent report on grouse moor management by Professor Alan Werritty, the organisations said the principles will aid the delivery of many of the Werritty recommendations without the need for licensing.

The spokesperson continued: “The review of grouse moor management set out a number of recommendations on issues such as muirburn, mountain hares and conservation of birds of prey.

“The involvement of estates in projects such as the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project and Heads Up For Harriers is already delivering tangible results and we now see the country’s raptor population at its healthiest levels for many decades.

“This has been combined with partnership working with government and conservation bodies to develop instruments such as the Muirburn Code, Moorland Management Best Practice (MMBP) and new hare counting methodology. This all goes some way to meeting the goals set out by the Werritty report via collaboration rather than legislation.

“The new Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management moves us a step further again and rather than introduce a costly and onerous licensing scheme, it instead provides the opportunity to solidify the best practice that scientists have developed through domestic and international studies.”

Rural Environment Land Management (RELM) is an informal alliance of Scottish rural organisations comprising:

  • The British Association for Shooting and Conservation
  • Scottish Countryside Alliance
  • Scottish Land & Estates
  • Scottish Association for Country Sports
  • Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association