Friday, 4 August 2017

WINNER OF 2017 RONNIE ROSE MEMORIAL TROPHY ANNOUNCED


SGA Chairman Alex Hogg today announced the winner of the 2017 Ronnie Rose Memorial Trophy as David Howarth. See press release below.

A Speysider whose quarter century of research into reducing diseases which impact on Scotland’s iconic moorland bird, the red grouse, has landed a major award for his work.
David Howarth (64) ran a guesthouse before an early interest in the countryside morphed into a career, monitoring the impacts of parasites on the breeding success of the native bird in the mountains close to his Kingussie home.
During 25 years at Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, David – who started with no scientific qualification- gained respect for his research into how gut worms and tick affect grouse breeding.
Working with local gamekeepers, his hours spent on the high tops of the Cairngorms National Park in all weathers helped inform new management approaches to reducing the parasites which cause cyclical fluctuations in red grouse populations.
Today (Friday) his research work was recognised with him receiving the Ronnie Rose Memorial Trophy for Conservation and Education, presented by Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.
The award, inaugurated by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association in honour of late conservationist, forester and author, Ronnie Rose MBE, is for lasting contributions benefitting Scotland’s land and rivers.
“It is a real honour to receive this award,” said David. “My work, particularly in the last 20 years, focused on diseases which were having a deleterious affect on grouse populations. 
“If you manage to reduce the disease burdens, naturally you get greater productivity. This benefits the grouse as a bird. On a local level, it also benefits the nearby sporting estates which helps, in turn, to finance the continued management of the moorlands in the area. This management benefits other species, as well as having wider economic benefits.
“When my wife and I moved here in 1990, the estate behind us employed 2 gamekeepers, now there are 6. When I gave talks with the Trust, I always tried to explain to people that the heather hills people love are not just there, naturally or by accident. It is the gamekeepers out there, 
largely unseen, managing the heather and keeping a lid on the predators that makes it look the way it is. It is important that message is not lost in future.”
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg said the work of researchers like David had helped to create stability and employment in rural communities and encouraged people to invest in the countryside.
“Like farmers and other land managers, grouse estates need a level of confidence that the area they are working in is sustainable.
“The work of people like David in helping us understand how populations fluctuate with disease, and how to minimise that where possible, has led to employment for gamekeepers and other land managers such as shepherds, who will manage hill sheep in order to reduce tick burdens. 
“Although not a scientist by training, David established very good relations with practical people and his work makes him highly deserving of this award.”