Authors: Professor Simon Denny, Tracey Latham-Green
This mixed methods research study considers the economic and social impacts of upland, moorland management in the UK and compares them to nationally available data.
The research project aimed to identify the economic and social circumstances of communities in moorland areas where grouse shooting takes place, and compare them with UK national data sets and other upland areas where grouse shooting is not practiced. Data was collected between April and June 2020 (during the corona virus pandemic) from 644 people, 61 interviewees and 583 survey respondents, making this one of the larger studies in the field.
- Previous studies have shown that communities in grouse shooting areas receive direct financial benefits from expenditure during the shooting season. This study confirmed theimportance of expenditure during the shooting season to many businesses and individuals in moorland communities.
- As previous studies have described, the presence of full-time estate staff in communities has an all-year economic impact. The cash and employment generated by these impacts have a great importance to remote communities where there is limited alternative employment. The more remote the area, the greater the economic importance of the estate owners and sporting tenants.
- Agricultural and environmental contractors, builders, carpenters, and other suppliers of professional services, based throughout the UK, are engaged by estate and moor owners and receive economic benefits as a result.
- The practice of integrated moorland management, including grouse shooting, involves significant sums of money (much of it equivalent to export earnings) going into upland areas. This economic model works and should be facilitated rather than hindered.
- Individuals who take part in grouse shooting (in various capacities) have statistically significantly higher well-being scores than the national average.
- Moorland communities in areas where grouse shooting takes place have a high level of ‘community’ and a greater sense of belonging than the national average. Strong social and community networks are two of the wider determinants of health. Previous research has demonstrated that a strong community and sense of identity positively impacts health and well-being.
- Without shooting, 68% of respondents said meeting new people would be harder, 63% said making new friends would be harder, 62% said maintaining friendships would be harder, and 77% said their social life in general would be poorer. An overwhelming 97% of respondents said they regularly mixed with at least one person due to their shooting activity.
- The social impacts of integrated moorland management on the majority of people that live in communities are positive and result in potentially huge financial savings to the NHS and the UK taxpayer. Moreover, communities in areas where integrated moorland management is practiced, both those in National Parks and those outside them, have weathered the corona virus storm more robustly than those in moorland and upland communities in areas where there is a very high reliance on tourism.