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20 Dec 2019

Response to Werrity Review

A red grouse perches on a rock in Mar Lodge Estate.
Red grouse
The National Trust for Scotland comments on the Werrity Review on Grouse Moor Management, which was published on 19 December.

Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy at the National Trust for Scotland responds to the publication yesterday of the long-awaited report from the Grouse Moor Management Review Group commissioned by the Scottish Government.

‘The National Trust for Scotland broadly welcomes the findings of the review group chaired by Professor Werrity, acknowledging their hard work and the challenges they faced in making recommendations. However, there are still many unanswered questions and scientific evidence is currently unable to provide all the answers. Values and political judgement will play a significant part in formulating the future of a large part of Scotland’s upland landscapes and the balance of public and private benefits we derive from them.’

“The decisions we make about the long-term future of our countryside now must be taken in the context of the climate and biodiversity emergencies.”
Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy

Stuart continues: ‘We know that things need to change, that the potential in our land to store more carbon and provide habitats for wildlife needs to be realised. This doesn’t mean we stop managing the land but practices such as grouse shooting must be compatible and sustainable. There is no debate about the urgent need to stop illegal persecution of raptors.

‘We agree with the review findings that the scientific evidence base to inform land use practice is contested, enabling land managers to cherry pick justification. Based on the precautionary principle we support the recommendation to increase regulation in the areas of muirburn, mountain hare management and use of medicated grit. We think this approach will help to reinforce and continue to refine good practice.

‘There are implications for increasing regulation, not least the need to adequately resource compliance and training. We urge the Scottish Government ensure compliance with existing regulation and if necessary increase support to SNH if further regulation is introduced including licensing of grouse shooting. We acknowledge the concerns of landowners around increasing the regulatory burden but on balance think this can be introduced in a proportionate way, whilst providing opportunities for adaptive management and experimentation within a legally controlled environment.’

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this For the Love of Scotland.

In Our Strategy for Protecting Scotland’s Heritage 2018–23, we set out how we’re planning to work towards our vision that Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected now, and for future generations.