Conservation at Work

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18th January 2018

The local Peak District community is reflecting on what was a successful grouse shooting season (which officially ended Dec 10th), with most estates having witnessed a full shooting programme, due to favourable weather conditions, and shoot days being let right the way through the season.

Managing moorland for grouse shooting is vitally important to remote rural communities in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits and is a life line for many local businesses in the Peak District. A full season is significantly more beneficial and is dependent on how well the wild red grouse breed in the spring.

Grouse moor managers in the Peak District Moorland Group area report that, 90 driven shoot days were hosted throughout the four-month season on estates across the region.


On average each grouse moor employs around 35 people per shoot day, including local youngsters, with an estimated 3,150 workdays of additional employment provided for those who assisted on shoot days, including beaters, flankers, loaders, pickers-up and caterers.

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 visited 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.

This year’s improved harvest also increased the availability of fresh grouse being supplied to local butchers, farm shops and game dealers, and as a result, greatly enhancing the awareness of grouse as a sustainable food source. Hoteliers, top chefs and home-cooks are now readily choosing grouse as a delicious, healthy and affordable game meat alternative.

Richard Bailey of the Peak District Moorland Group, said: “We have witnessed a good year with most of our estate members welcoming both domestic and international visitors right into the final weeks of the season. Grouse shooting is a life line for many in our rural community in the form of economic, social and community interaction. It offers employment opportunities and supports many local businesses, with shooting-related tourism bolstering trade during the winter ‘off-season’.

“The successful season is testament to the hard-work and year-round dedication of our gamekeepers and grouse moor managers as well as the private investment by estate owners and sporting tenants in the region.

“Grouse is a sustainable and nutritious food source and it has been greatly encouraging to see more grouse being offered on menus of local restaurants and hotels this season. Its reputation as a flavourful and healthy source of protein is growing year on year.”

Moorland owners and gamekeepers of the Peak District Moorland Group carry out vital conservation work on more than 48,000 acres of precious heather moorland across the area, much of which is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The picturesque moors of the Peak District attracted a wide range of visitors from hill walkers to cyclists with over 10 million visiting the Peak District National Park each year, making it one of the most popular national parks in the UK. It has 1,600 miles of public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and tracks) with around 520 sq km (202 sq miles) of open access land – open to walkers without having to stick to paths*.

Healthy moorlands managed for seasonal red grouse, found nowhere else in the world, support up to five times as many other birds such as the curlew and lapwing compared to moorland that is not keepered. They also offer an important source of drinking water and can lock up carbon in the peaty soils mitigating climate change.

Hardy hill sheep are also unique products of these remote and treasured landscapes enjoyed by millions. It is thus imperative that the year-round management of grouse moors continues as it plays a big part in shaping the countryside and its offerings.


About the Peak District Moorland Group

The Peak District Moorland Group was created by gamekeepers and estate owners to help promote the positive environmental, conservation, economic and social benefits of the moorland management activities taking place on estates within the region.

Since its inception, the group has aimed to tell the story of the shooting and game-keeping community, through the people who are involved with it every day of their lives. The organisation is run by local people and is wholeheartedly promoting the positive benefits of moorland management and conservation.

The Peak District Moorland Group Facebook page has been set up to give a voice to the moorland managers and rural businesses within the Peak District.

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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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