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Nature-impoverished intensively-managed grouse moors cover over three-quarters of a million acres of Britain’s national parks, Rewilding Britain reveals - Rewilding Britain

More than three-quarters of a million acres of Britain’s national parks are covered by intensively-managed grouse moors which leave nature impoverished and contribute to climate breakdown, new research by Rewilding Britain reveals.

Grouse moor at Bamford Edge, Peak District © Sam Rose
Grouse moor at Bamford Edge, Peak District © Sam Rose

With the annual grouse shooting season recommencing on 12 August, the charity says its findings highlight the need for government action to ensure wilder national parks that can lead the way in tackling the nature and climate crises.

A total of 852,000 acres – an area more than twice the size of Greater London – of Britain’s national parks are devoted to intensively-managed grouse shoots, known as driven grouse shooting, according to figures released today by the environmental charity.

Of the six national parks that contain grouse moors – which are found only in Scotland and northern England – almost a third of their combined land area (27%) is devoted to driven grouse shoots, which keep the land in a degraded state, contribute to climate breakdown, and prevent significant recovery of wildlife.

“With over three quarters of a million acres of our national parks devoted to driven grouse moors, the parks are being held back from tackling Britain’s collapsing biodiversity and the climate emergency,” said Rewilding Britain’s policy and campaigns coordinator Guy Shrubsole. “The Prime Minister’s pledge to protect 30% of Britain’s land for nature – and count national parks towards this total – rings hollow when you realise that vast areas of our national parks are dominated by these nature-impoverished and heavily-managed areas. We’re urging ministers to show real leadership by creating wilder national parks and setting up core rewilding areas in each of them – in which driven grouse shoots are phased out, and our precious moors brought back to health.”

Grouse moors are often intensively managed, with heather regularly burned to produce fresh shoots for young grouse. This burning often damages underlying peat soils – the UK’s single largest carbon sink – releasing carbon and worsening the climate crisis. It also prevents the growth of trees and a wide range of other vegetation by suppressing natural regeneration, and kills other wildlife including large numbers of insects, preventing the recovery of biodiversity.

Posted on: 05 August 2021

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