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Grouse shooting season highlights conservation efforts of local Peak District moorland managers

6th October 2017

The conservation and economic benefits of grouse shooting provided by moorland managers in the Peak District are highlighted in a new survey released today.

A snap shot of estates surveyed by the Peak District Moorland Group show that they will be hosting over 90 driven shoot days throughout the season with many more running on other estates throughout northern England. Where wild bird stocks allow, the season runs until December 10th.

On average, each grouse moor will employ around 35 people per shoot day, including local youngsters. Of the estates surveyed, an estimated 3,150 workdays of additional employment will be provided for those assisting in shoot days, including beaters, flankers, loaders, pickers-up and caterers.

A shooting party enjoying a day out on Mossy Lea this grouse shooting season (Photo: Susy Strage)

The survey also showed that moorland owners and gamekeepers across the whole of the Peak District Moorland Group carry out vital conservation work on some 48,000 hectares of precious heather moorland in the area, much of which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Moors in the Peak District area suffered from industrial pollution destroying the mosses and erosion of peat. Collaborative activity with world-leading experts has been undertaken in recent years to carry out moorland regeneration projects in the region with around £3.5m being invested in estates in the Peak District Moorland Group’s area.

Estates in the Peak District Moorland Group are actively engaged in a number of innovative conservation projects from flood mitigation to gully blocking, heather brash spreading, tree planting and re-introduction of sphagnum moss.

Mossy Lea Farm, a member of the group, which extends to some 810 hectares in total, with around 90% moorland or rough grazing, is currently embarking on a major regeneration project on 200 hectares of land that has degenerated to mat grass as a result of industrial pollution, wide-scale agricultural burning practice and intensive grazing. This restoration project is estimated to cost £300,000 to turn the barren land back into moorland shrub.

In recent years, Mossy Lea also completed an English Woodland Gant Scheme which saw 25,000 trees planted in a 4km long clough planting area as a flood mitigation project, as well as undertaking a major heather rejuvenation programme of aerial seeding at a cost of £40,000.

Thomas Kier of Mossy Lea Farm, said: “We are very fortunate to have such beautiful countryside on our doorstep and look forward to welcoming shooting parties on our grouse moor each year. Estate owners and moorland managers throughout the Peak District are dedicated to restoring as much of the area’s iconic moorland shrub as possible, revegetating areas of bare peat which benefits the wider environmental health of the moors and re-introducing native plant species.”

The Peak District is a National Park and is an attractive destination for visitors and country sports enthusiasts from across the globe. International parties from USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Dubai, Austria and South Africa will be visiting the Peak District throughout this season to enjoy the area’s sporting pursuits and uniquely British and beautiful heather moorland.

Estates in the Peak District Moorland Group also witness a good level of repeat bookings from the UK market. Shoot days contribute economic support to local hotels and restaurants in the area with one estate in particular resulting in 160 overnight stays from sporting guests this season.

Richard Bailey, of the Peak District Moorland Group, said:Grouse shooting plays a vital role in providing conservation benefits to the local area as well as offering local employment opportunities which can be limited otherwise. Estates in the Peak District spend vast sums of money on conservation efforts as part of their moorland management for shooting which benefits a wealth of species, especially waders like the curlew. In comparison to other areas where their numbers are showing a decline, curlew are thriving on grouse moors.”

Healthy moorlands not only have essential biodiversity value, they also support the natural cycling of water and carbon storage, mitigate climate change, provide land based products, pollinators and a natural seed bank, as well as inspiring recreational and economic opportunities. Thus, it is imperative that the year-round management of grouse moors continues as it plays a big part in shaping the Peak District countryside and its offerings.

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Did You Know?

75% of of the world’s remaining heather moorland is found in Britain – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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