Commenting on today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that an independent panel has been appointed to carry out an inquiry into the management of grouse moors, Susan Davies, Director of Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust said:
“Currently, over 10% of Scotland’s land area is managed for shooting grouse. While this activity brings income into rural communities we have to ensure a balance is struck, and that any benefits are weighed against long-term environmental damage and the persecution of wildlife that are often linked with intensive moorland management.
“Scotland’s uplands have an important job to do as stores of carbon and clean water. Unsustainable moorland management including intensive burning and drainage have a serious effect on these functions. There is growing evidence linking grouse moors to wildlife crimes, including the recent report on the fate of 131 satellite tagged golden eagles, between 2004 and 2016, which concluded that a third of these young eagles probably disappeared under suspicious circumstances in areas connected to contemporary records of persecution. Also, despite a number of calls for restraint, mountain hares continue to be culled in large numbers on some estates.
“The Scottish Wildlife Trust has been consistently calling for better regulation and a move towards more sustainable management of Scotland’s uplands. Taking a land stewardship approach would have clear benefits for Scotland’s wildlife, but also our economy and society.
“To ensure we move forward towards this goal it is vital that the inquiry draws on the evidence and recommendations contained in the review on sustainable moorland management published by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2015. Therefore, we welcome the announcement that the independent panel will be chaired by Professor Alan Werrity, who led the committee which produced that report.
“I’m also pleased to have been asked to be a specialist adviser to the panel, and I intend to contribute constructively to finding new solutions that secure the sustainable management of Scotland’s moorlands.”