Grouse estates in Scotland contributed more than £23 million to the country’s economy, a new survey has suggested.
The research, carried out by moorland estate groups across seven different regions of Scotland, surveyed 45 estates and found each was worth an average of £514,886.
The total of £23,169,891.20, which was based on the financial accounts of the estates for 2015-16, does not include the wages paid to gamekeepers and other estate staff, or the amount visiting shooters spend on accommodation during the season.
The figures were released as gamekeepers, their families and other traders who benefit from grouse season took part in a community march in Edzell in Angus, to highlight its value.
Grouse shooting takes place between August and December, with the season getting underway each year on the “Glorious Twelfth” of August.
Businesses around Loch Ness and Inverness-shire benefited by £6.2 million from the 11 grouse estates in the area which submitted accounts to the research.
Meanwhile seven estates in Angus were worth about £4.2 million to the local economy, while in Speyside six estates contributed almost £4 million to the area.
Ten estates across the Grampian area boosted the economy there by about £3.1 million, with three estates in Perthshire providing almost £2 million, while two estates in the Tomatin area netted more than £880,000 of economic benefit.
Lianne MacLennan of Scotland’s regional moorland groups said: “Grouse shooting attracts criticism in some quarters but the survey tells the story of the value of country sports to smaller rural communities.”
She stated: “The results do not show the wages that keep the gamekeepers and their families in the glen villages.
“What we wanted to understand better is how the impacts trickle down.
“There is not a rural community in these seven areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business people are deriving from all the work that goes on in these places.
“It is not just shooting-related businesses, either, it is everything from wine sellers to clothing companies, fencers, architects and garages.
“Those businesses are out in force today, standing shoulder to shoulder with the gamekeepers ahead of another busy season.”