Grouse moors: our Economy, Uplands and Moorlands

Through researches for an event we’re planning to hold around issues raised by the Sheffield Moors Partnership’s Consultation which concluded in late 2012, it was brought to our attention that the way in which, for example, Sheffield’s Uplands now look appears to resemble all the blandness of a Grouse Moor.

Although we are quite clear that there is no intention whatsoever to introduce grouse shooting in the areas managed by the Sheffield Moors Partnership, it was also pointed out that the industry generates a lot of money and that our Uplands and Moorlands are being re-designed for wildlife which thrives in such a habitat – more information about the Uplands and Moorlands, including the EU’s CAP can be found in our Newsletter

The following is a summary of the substantiated main points and references  found on-line:  

    1. Fraser of Allander Institute to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland study (2010): Data of 304 upland estates from late 2009 until early 2010 and a survey from 2005-2009 reported analyses economic contribution of grouse shooting to the Scottish economy and how estates contribute to conservation and maintenance of the Scottish countryside. They analyse days shooting, grouse bagged and economic data for 92 upland estates. Main findings are of responding estates: Aberdeenshire, Highland and Perth & Kinross. Grouse shooting in 2009 occurred on 81.5% of surveyed estates while grouse shothas declined by nearly 11% and nearly 50% compared to 2001. Grouse revenues for 2009 increased compared to the average of the previous five years, perhaps reflecting the increasing move to let shooting rather than owner use. Estates are estimated to spend almost £11 million on wages, operating and maintenance expenditures with much “everyday” estate expenditure spent on the routine countryside management of predator control, pest control, heather and bracken management. Its study adds that 88.3% of the spend on grouse operating/maintenance and 93.6% of grouse shooting is in Scotland which is estimated to generate £9.7 million of wages in Scotland with £15.6 million to GDP and £7.0 million to Scottish GDP. According to this report, identified 304 estates in Scotland were invited to participate in this study and that if grouse shooting on responding estates reflects their grouse activity, then grouse shooting would support 1,072 jobs, £14.5 million worth of wages and contribute £23.3 million to GDP in Scotland.
    2. The Moorlands Association states on its website that in England & Wales there are c.149 grouse shooting estates in an area of about 1,344 square miles and an average estate size of 8.9 square miles, (5,700 acres). At least 15% of moors do not run a shoot, 25% of moors do not run commercial shoots and those that do receive c. 40% of their costs. The going rate for commercially let shooting is £150 per brace shot and with 150 brace shot in one day’s shooting is £22,500 for nine guns. Grouse shooting revenue goes to support moorland management and maintain upland infrastructure.  They go on to report that about 200,000 grouse are shot on average between 12th August – 10th December annually; grouse fetch between £170- £190/brace; associated businesses benefit by £15.2 million. English & Welsh industry supports 1,520 Full Time Equivalent jobs worth £67.7 million. Grouse moor management in Scotland is estimated to be worth £30 million per year. In a statistical analysis, The Moorland Association states that its members have:
    1. restored heather to 89 square miles of English moorlands exceeding conservation targets by 170% with 75% of the remaining heather in Britain.
    2. plugged 1,250 miles of moorland drainage ditches to lock up carbon in the peaty soil;
    3. sown heather seed over 26 square miles; improved or built 257 miles of dry stone walls and fencing to manage sheep grazing;
    4. treated 65 square miles of invasive bracken to stop swamping or killing moorland plants; created 4,485 mini moorland ponds for insects, water vole, amphibians, catch sediment and slowing water run-off, reducing flood risk downstream;
    5. planted over 1.1 million native trees in moorland gills recreating lost habitat for the Black Grouse.
    6. An estimated wage bill of £5.25 million/year for 350 full time keepers (equivalent) plus direct, indirect and revenue expenditure of running a business.

While we are happy to post comments on this topic, please keep them polite, informative and where appropriate referenced.


  1. The Moorland Association,
  2. “An Economic Study of Grouse Moors, The Fraser of Allander Institute to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland, (incorporating the Game Conservancy Scottish Research Trust), University of Strathclyde, July 2010,
  3. ctivitysearch/ac_nym_grouse_shooting_discussion.htm

About actionforinvolvment

We're an independent think tank, founded in 2006 to bring people in our communities together with policymakers and stakeholders. We create space often in a workshop format to pool ideas, develop networks and tackle hot topics. Since 2009, we’ve focused on the sustainability agenda such as: climate change, energy, housing, technology, transport with interest in:education, health, welfare, regulation and enforcement. Our latest project is funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Grant and our next event on 27th June 2013 includes George Monbiot with other high level environmental policy makers.
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