Heather Moorland Case Study

Stark findings in Berwyn

In the 1990s, driven grouse shooting and habitat management stopped in the Berwyn Special Protection Area in North Wales, leading to a serious fall in bird species.

Research into changes in upland bird numbers and distribution between 1983 and 2012 revealed stark findings.

The complete loss of lapwing and serious and rapid declines of many other red listed birds were highlighted. Hen harriers dropped by 48 percent, golden plover by 90 percent, curlew by 79 percent, ring ouzel and black grouse by 78 percent and red grouse by 54 percent.

The Berwyn report demonstrates with great clarity the consequences of losing grouse shooting as a land management tool. The report shows the hugely important work of MA members in their care for 860,000 acres of heather moorland in England and Wales. Without this work, the precious land would revert to scrub and forest and the heather moors lost forever, along with the loss of many red listed birds.

Case Study

Black Grouse Country

The Earn-Tay-Almond Grouse Management Group was founded in 2007 with the objective of re-establishing the Perthshire moors as one of the principal areas for red grouse shooting in Scotland, through active collaboration between the estates in the area. The original membership of 6 estates has more than doubled since then.

Through annual meetings, group visits to other moors and ongoing professional advice, the group is constantly working towards improving standards of best practice for all aspects of grouse moor management. They gather annual data on heather burning, grazing pressures, tick, deer management, sheep dipping regimes, louping ill, worms, heather beetle and predator numbers as well as results in the form of data on spring pairs, brood sizes, and the young to old ratio. The Earn-Tay-Alomond Group forms part of the Scottish Land & Estates national Moorland Group network.

It is well proven that managmeent of moorland for red grouse directly benefits some other species such as black grouse, which are declining rapidly in other parts of Scotland and are red listed as species of conservation concern. The Earn-Tay-Almond Group estates are working hard to look after their black grouse and some of the "lek" sites are very long established.

One of the main operations to protect the vulnerable black grouse is to control their predators, particularly foxes, crows and other corvid species, stoats and weasels all of which will take black grouse eggs, chicks and adult birds. Many estates are also involved in programmes of bracken control, off-wintering of sheep, heather burning, planting native woodland, and the sympathetic management of moorland fringe native woodlands which provide black grouse with their preferred habitat.

Advice on black grouse management is given by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) based nearby at Scone, who are joint leaders of the Scottish Black Grouse Biodiversity Action Plan.

The same success can be seen in the nearby Angus Glens where black grouse numbers have increased considerably in recent years on and around managed red grouse moors.

As a result of sustained management by grouse moor estates over many decades, the Earn-Tay-Almond area holds a significant percentage of the Scottish Black Grouse population. Estates also hold good populations of increasingly rare wader species such as curlew, lapwing, and golden plover which are also proven to benefit from the year round habitat and predator management work carried out by hill keepers.

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