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Yorkshire Dales grouse shoot signs up to environmental agreements

[Wednesday 02 August 2006]

WITH the Glorious Twelfth nearly upon us environmentalists at English Nature are celebrating bagging two new management agreements that will enhance 6000 hectares of heather moorland that provide prime grouse shoots, one of which is right here in the Yorkshire Dales.

From left: George Winn-Darley, Sir Martin Doughty and Simon
Bostock at the CLA Game Fair

Agreements have been signed covering Dallowgill estate in Nidderdale and Spaunton estate on the North York Moors. The heather moorland in both areas has the highest possible designation for nature conservation, being internationally recognised for both the plants and breeding birds.

Seventy-five percent of the world's remaining heather moorland is now to be found in Britain and it is hoped the agreements will build on the considerable contribution that management for grouse shooting over the last 150 years has made and is making to the conservation of the moorland and a range of nationally and internationally important species.

Peter Welsh of English Nature explains: "We've worked closely with the Moorland Association to come up with practical and consistent land management guidance and an approach that is sympathetic to the needs of the wildlife on sites but allows gamekeepers and farmers to do their jobs.

"In general terms the approach allows for an agreed amount of heather burning to maintain or restore diversity and richness across the moors, blocking up drainage ditches to stop the moorland drying up and practical measures necessary to keep grazing animals on the estate."

English Nature believes the addition of Simon Bostock's Dallowgill estate in Nidderdale and George Winn-Darley's Spaunton estate to those areas with agreed moorland management plans will secure the future for the dramatic heath and bog vegetation and beautiful breeding birds like curlew, golden plover, merlin, short-eared owl and the red grouse.

...we will be striving to maintain the moor's productivity, as far as we can, both in terms of sheep grazing and grouse production

Simon Bostock - Dallowgill estate

Simon Bostock, Nidderdale estate owner and Chairman of the Moorland Association, said: "It's really important that any agreement signed with English Nature takes into consideration the joint needs of land management and nature conservation particularly on heather moorland managed for grouse that is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"I believe the agreement I have signed does both and is carefully tailored to Dallowgill's particular needs. It represents months of work by the Moorland Association, English Nature specialists and my own team at Dallowgill."

Mr Bostock continued: "Our vision now is for a working partnership with English Nature and its successor Natural England which will see Dallowgill qualifying for favourable status designation over its entire 3200 hectares.

"At the same time we will be striving to maintain the moor's productivity, as far as we can, both in terms of sheep grazing and grouse production. That way we will be preserving a viable working estate, as well as the livelihoods of those who live there, and the wildlife that thrives upon it."

With its Chairman signing up to the agreement the Moorland Association is firmly behind the scheme and English Nature hope this will encourage other moorland owners and mangers to sign up too.

Dr Welsh continued: "We are delighted to sign up to these two agreements. We hope it will send a clear message to other moor owners and managers that we can reach a practical agreement that works."

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