Biased reading of grouse shooting research?

In the Herald today:

Grouse shooting: Scottish Government funded research ‘confirms its major socio-economic importance’. A “ground-breaking” new study has highlighted that grouse shooting delivers significant socio-economic benefits, affirming its place as a much-valued upland land use. Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the research – led by Scotland’s Rural College in conjunction with the James Hutton Institute – shows that grouse shooting sustains many jobs and delivers high levels of local and regional investment while receiving no public funding.

Like many of you, I suspect, several parts of me started to twitch when I read this. The reports are huge so I won’t be giving them any kind of going over but, suffice to say, neither ‘confirms its major socio-economic importance‘ nor ‘socio-economic benefits‘ appear anywhere in the text.

I have my doubts about this if only because of earlier research in 2019 saying something quite different:

Between 12% and 18% of Scotland’s total land area is currently reserved for grouse moors. Despite this, the economics of such activity has been shown to be significantly worse than any other reasonably conceivable economic activity.

Of all the possible uses of this land, grouse shooting is not only the least moral, it is by far the least economically effective. In fact, almost any other use will create more value and more jobs per hectare.

The report by JHI:

Click to access Part%201%20-%20Case%20studies%20of%20moorland%20uses.pdf

At least one reader will have their ear to the ground bird on this. Over to you.

15 thoughts on “Biased reading of grouse shooting research?”

  1. Haven’t read the report yet but that Herald piece (from what i can see without paying) is obviously grouse shooting propaganda. It doesn’t give any comparison with other land uses. The economics of wildlife tourism are massive. If they haven’t compared then the article isn’t worth the proverbial.
    Raptor Persecution UK and Mark Avery will no doubt give more detailed analysis.
    Will link to when they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read the conclusions and i am not impressed at all. There are no conclusions mostly just waffle.
    In the conclusion, at least, there is no mention on the hidden costs of increased flood risks, contamination of the environment with lead and veterinary chemicals, carbon release, destruction of moorland and bogs with drains and roads and raptor persecution.

    Just about the only factual conclusion:
    ‘2. Despite generating substantial revenues, due to consistently high costs and fluctuating grouse populations, grouse shooting enterprises are rarely profitable, and are commonly subsidised by other revenue streams, even on more commercial shooting estates.’
    And the rest of the conclusions seems to emphasise jobs and the profit which they have just stated doesn’t exist. The jobs are of course, mostly gamekeepers. I have no sympathy for any activity whose sole defence is jobs especially by a profession so steeped in illegal activity.

    I am willing to be proven wrong but this has not resolved any questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On the face of it the socio-economic report is very detailed but ..

      The case studies indicate, the report tells us, that grouse shooting generates “significant economic impacts” but also tells us that: (a) the impacts “vary considerably” and moreover, (b) “grouse shooting enterprises are rarely profitable”. Now, that is some trick to pull off -significant (sustainable) economic impact through a loss making activity – but then only pulled off to a “considerably” variable degree!

      And we learn that the economic impact of grouse shooting is “disproportionately important in regions where grouse shooting is most prevalent.” – is that not verging on the tautological?

      The report expresses concern about any ‘substantial reduction’ of driven grouse shooting on local employment but the accompanying caveat is kind of critical: “.. where this is not replaced with alternative activities with comparable impacts”.

      And why is this caveat not only crucial? Well, the report also concludes:
      “Grouse shooting commonly exists as part of an integrated sporting enterprise, … Spending and staffing therefore occurs across these activities and grouse shooting generally does not operate financially as a stand-alone enterprise.”

      So an often unprofitable activity is cross subsidised from within estates. I’m struggling with the business model and certainly with the basis of how a net additional economic impact of estate investment in grouse shooting in realised. Perhaps the investment and workforce should be redeployed to the more profitable and consistently impactful enterprises?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Well researched stewartb! And entertaining 🙂

        I take a very dim view of Scotland being used as hunting-shooting-fishing estates for the wealthy establishment – it is a central issue on why Scotland is held back on development, why we still have depopulation, and why there won’t be any land reform while we are in the grip of unionist rule, to my mind.


  3. The recent YouTube video of the case against using 18% of Scotland’s
    land for grouse shooting was very enlightening and contained all the facts about how there is no financial benefit to Scotland for this use of huge areas of land that they damage and destroy in the process in addition to the killing of much of our wildlife with bait traps and poison.
    I think this Herald story is to compete with that video

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonder why they didn’t choose this quote from Summary Conclusion.

    “51.‘Alternative’ moorland land uses can generate comparable spending and revenue impacts (and in some cases more consistent revenue) to driven grouse shooting on a per hectare basis”


  5. The only mention of raptor persecution is this, cowardly statement.

    ‘While grouse moor managers and collaborators are taking active steps to reverse the decline of wading birds in Scotland, concerns generally focus on large-scale culls of mountain hares on grouse moors, muirburn and the persecution of raptors.’


  6. From Wiki

    Many annual species of lupins are used in agriculture and most of them have Mediterranean origin.[21] While originally cultivated as a green manure or forage, lupins are increasingly grown for their seeds, which can be used as an alternative to soybeans. Sweet (low alkaloid) lupins are highly regarded as a stock feed, particularly for ruminants, but also for pigs and poultry and more recently as an ingredient in aqua-feeds. The market for lupin seeds for human food is currently small, but researchers believe it has great potential. Lupin seeds are considered “superior” to soybeans in certain applications and evidence is increasing for their potential health benefits. They contain similar protein to soybean, but less fat. As a food source, they are gluten-free and high in dietary fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants, and they are considered to be prebiotic. About 85% of the world’s lupin seeds are grown in Western Australia.[22]

    Three Mediterranean species of lupin, blue (narrow-leafed) lupin, white lupin, and yellow lupin, are widely cultivated for livestock and poultry feed.

    Like other legumes, they can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia via a rhizobium–root nodule symbiosis, fertilizing the soil for other plants. This adaptation allows lupins to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor-quality soils. The genus Lupinus is nodulated by Bradyrhizobium soil bacteria.[23]


  7. RPUK has acknowledged these reports and will no doubt comment on them at length but this includes links to the reports and an RSPB response (see below)

    RSPB press release
    Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “We welcome the production of these socio-economic reports. We do not take argument with the fact that grouse moor management may produce local economic benefits, however it is also equally important that these benefits are kept in proportion and not exaggerated. We do not think these economic benefits detract either from the need to take action over the increasing harms that intensive driven grouse shooting is causing to the environment and wider costs to society in the context of the climate and nature emergencies. The Werritty Review itself was primarily initiated to address the longstanding issue illegal killing of birds of prey, which is strongly linked to grouse shooting, and the need to address this issue has not gone away. We support the immediate introduction of licensing of driven grouse shooting to protect birds of prey alongside other public interests. Licensing would not result in a cessation of grouse shooting, and it can be delivered with minimum bureaucracy, therefore responsible land managers should have nothing to fear from his approach”.


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