Adam Smith (Friends of The Scotsman, 20 August) makes important points that support the role of grouse shooting in the management and maintenance of the uplands of Scotland. As director of the Heather Trust, I support and endorse his views.
Balanced management of our moorlands and uplands is essential if we are to hold onto them as vibrant dynamic areas that support society through their natural (ecosystem) services, maintain their unique ranges of habitats and species, continue to underpin many cultural activities, and provide an income that supports the people and communities that live in these areas that in turn maintain the features that make these areas so attractive for visitors.
It is a complicated list of inter-related features and activities but, as Adam pointed out, if we allow these areas to unravel, as has happened in parts of the UK, we are left with impoverished land that is denuded of all the features that make the areas so special.
It is far from being all bad news and there are many areas where sensitive management is delivering all the benefits I have outlined, but even in these exemplar areas there is room for improvement.
Adam singled out Wales as a case study for where it has gone wrong; I share his concerns. This is why I was pleased to have been invited to contribute to an embryonic Moorland Initiative that the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) is leading in Wales, promoting the benefits CLA members could bring to the uplands in Wales if they are given encouragement. I will be pleased to support the issue in an effort to reverse the decline of the Welsh moorlands and move away from the “silent spring” state.
Grouse shooting is not for everyone, and it is not appropriate in all moorland areas, but where it does work it provides a focus for income generation and input that acts as a catalyst for activity that spins off to provide much wider benefits to the local area and to the habitats and species that live in these areas.