Wednesday, 18 November 2020

GREEN-SCARING: NATURE EMERGENCY AND GROUSE MOOR MANAGEMENT

Today the Scottish Green Party instigated a motion at Scottish Parliament, asking that the Parliament declare a Nature Emergency.

As part of this, The Scottish Green Party want an end to driven grouse moor management.

What would this actually look like?

There are living, real life, examples.

Consider key findings from the report: Changes in the Abundance of Some Ground-Nesting Birds on moorland in South West Scotland (1)


What did it show on Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands SPA, after driven grouse moor management ceased?


Moorland transect surveys at Muirkirk and Garpel covering 2 periods ( 1994 and 2009/2017)- when gamekeepers managed the moors and when they did not- showed a decline in Curlew abundance of 38 percent, associated with the cessation of grouse shooting at Muirkirk.

Golden Plover (a species for which the SPA status still applies) and Redshank were no longer found at Muirkirk after gamekeepers were off the moor. Lapwing and Snipe observations halved from the time keepers were there and when they were not. 


At Garpel, repeat surveys after gamekeepers left, failed to find any Waders at all. Garpel was previously described as one of the most favourable sites in Britain for Golden Plover.

Upland Bird Surveys at Muirkirk, from the early 80s to 2015 showed an 84 percent decline in Golden Plover, an 88 percent decline in Lapwing and a 61 percent decline in Curlew.


In 2015 SNH classified the SPA's Golden Plover population as Unfavourable Declining. Hen Harrier (another principal reason for the SPA designation), and over-wintering Hen Harrier, were both classed as Unfavourable Declining. Merlin and Peregrine (two other species for which the area was designated) were classified as Unfavourable. Given that the stated objectives for the site are to maintain the populations of designated species as a vital component of the site, present solutions are palpably failing. It is only the short eared owl populations which have been maintained.


This mirrors what happened in Wales, in the Berwyn (SPA). When driven grouse shooting ceased, Lapwing became regionally extinct, there was a 90 percent loss of Golden Plover and a 79 percent reduction in Curlew, between two study periods of 1983-85 and 2002. Berwyn has been held up as an example of what happens when grouse moor management ceases. UK and EU funding has now been made available for moorland restoration work.


Good luck to the Scottish Green Party as they try to exploit every vehicle - including a global health crisis -  to ban driven grouse shooting and still hope to reverse the 'Nature Emergency'. 



* (1) The  report used existing national and regional datasets from BTO, RSPB and Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme as well as case studies and additional field monitoring work in 2017.