Conservation at Work

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Private Landowners Make Better Conservationists

19th March 2024

In response to the excellent article by Matt Ridley in the current issue of The Spectator, the following letter was sent to the magazine by Andrew Gilruth, endorsing the key points raised in the article.


If the government wishes to meet its legal obligations to halt wildlife declines by 2030 it should spend more time listening to those that have best protected and maintained our precious landscapes and the wildlife which thrives on them (‘Private landowners make better conservationists’, 16 March).

Conservation is not easy. The government’s web site reveals that 48% of assessments within National Nature Reserves are ‘unfavourable’.

In the three years since the Environment Act was passed the conservation industry has produced endless glossy reports highlighting that the government has fallen behind on 18 of its 23 targets.

With six years left to meet the legal deadline to halt wildlife declines we need a new approach.

Perhaps now is the time for national conservation policy to be based on those that have achieved the best results – private landowners.

Andrew Gilruth

Chief Executive

The Moorland Association



Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – 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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