New project to use novel approach in the conservation of raptors on grouse moors
Last modified: 20 September 2007
One of the most ambitious and innovative land management and conservation projects ever to be carried out in Britain is launched today by Scottish Minister for Environment, Michael Russell.
The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project will focus on the management of a substantial red grouse moor on Buccleuch Estates in Dumfriesshire. The moor includes around 7,000 hectares protected under European legislation due to its international importance for the hen harrier.
The Project has been established by a unique partnership with Buccleuch Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Game Conservancy Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England.
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland said: 'We welcome the launch of the Langholm Demonstration Project. We, and many others, are concerned about the conservation of protected birds of prey on land managed for the shooting of driven grouse.
'This project will test measures to reduce the predation of red grouse by birds of prey, including diversionary feeding of hen harriers.
'The project will also bring substantial investment in habitat improvements, which should benefit grouse and other upland birds. We consider this partnership to be a genuine opportunity to review these methods scientifically, which may then have wider practical application in the future.
'We hope that this will then reduce the perceived conflict between birds of prey and sporting managers, which has dogged the debate in recent years.'
With an investment of more than £3m over a ten-year period, the Project will employ eight people. It aims to integrate the management of the moor for grouse, biodiversity and other land use interests. More than half of the funding for the Project comes from grouse moor interests, including Buccleuch Estates.
The Project will seek to demonstrate whether the needs of an economically viable grouse moor can be met alongside the conservation needs of protected raptors, especially the hen harrier.
Launching the Project, Minister for Environment Michael Russell said: 'There is no doubt that moor management for grouse plays a vital part in Scotland’s rural economy. However, ensuring the welfare of our magnificent birds of prey - particularly hen harriers in this case - is essential for Scotland’s biodiversity.
'We welcome the launch of the Langholm Demonstration Project'
'I hope that grouse shooting and raptor conservation need not be mutually exclusive and look forward to seeing the results of the Langholm Project and am hopeful that it will play a significant role in the development of similar projects.'
Professor Colin Galbraith of SNH, who chairs the Project partnership, said: 'We have formed a unique partnership to help solve a unique problem. The coming years will see the partner organisations work together to manage Langholm Moor in ways which, we hope, will allow grouse to be harvested, while ensuring that the hen harriers and other wildlife flourish.'
The management of Langholm Moor has been one of the most keenly debated conservation issues in the country in recent years. People from a number of key conservation and land management organisations have worked together to find the middle ground and to develop a viable way forward. The partnership now in place includes considerable experience and expertise in land and conservation management, and in scientific monitoring.
The overall aim of the project is to establish Langholm Moor as an economically viable grouse moor which also meets the site's nature conservation objectives. It seeks to extend and improve the condition of heather-dominated habitat through heather burning, bracken control and appropriate stock management to encourage heather recovery.
There will be legal predator control of foxes, crows, stoats and weasels, and diversionary feeding of nesting hen harriers, and habitat creation for hen harriers and other moorland breeding birds.
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