Shooting ‘key to moorland restoration’

The Countryside Alliance has backed calls for farmers and landowners to encourage shooting on their land restore Britain’s moorlands.

In its Moorlands Manifesto, published last week, the Moorlands Association said farmers, tenants and landowners should work together to promote country sports in a bid to increase heather coverage and bird populations.

The manifesto’s 21 recommendations also suggest employing gamekeepers to control predators and boost bird populations as well as regenerating heather across 703 square miles of uplands.

According to the Moorlands Association, heather moorland used to cover one-third of uplands in England and Wales, but has dwindled to just one-fifth over the past 70 years.

Simon Hart, Countryside Alliance chief executive, said shooting contributed £1.6bn to the rural economy and rural communities thrived in areas where moorland had been managed to red grouse shooting.

“Careful heather burning, predator control and bracken management enable the rare habitat to support abundant bird life and nutritious grazing for stock, as well as helping mitigate climate change,” he added.

“These attributes are not always apparent elsewhere in the uplands, so clearly the shooting industry model is one we feel should be replicated elsewhere to help them prosper.”

Urging the next government to pay attention to the manifesto, Mr Hart said careful management with minimal state inference was a “common sense approach” which would secure the future of the uplands.