Today is the “Glorious Twelfth” – the start of the grouse shooting season. Driven grouse moors occupy 21% of the Peak District. The government pays millions to moorland owners to fund supposedly “environmentally beneficial management practices”. That consists of burning vegetation, which damages vital peat bogs, to create breeding conditions for grouse to be shot at £3000 a day events. Meanwhile, birds of prey are a rare sight in the Peak District, with a huge number of tracked birds disappearing over grouse moors.
This madness has to stop. Rewilding Britain wants 10% of the Peak District as a core rewilding area with nature recovery goals set in a further 50%. Ecologists in Sheffield also have great ideas for work on the moors that also contributes to the “Outdoor City.”
Unfortunately, a lot of the moorland is privately owned. It’s encouraging to see Yorkshire Water ending grouse shooting tenancies on their land. The National Trust has just announced it is considering this for leases that cover 13% of the Peak District.
We need to end grouse shooting in the Peak District and restore sustainable environmental practices. More rain falls on the moors than anywhere else, so good management of moorlands is critical to stop our town and city centres flooding. The risk of moorland fires will also be reduced and peat will be protected – all helping address the rapidly accelerating climate emergency.
It’s also quite clear that the illegal persecution of the hen harriers, goshawks and eagles we want to see flourish in our national parks will stop when grouse shooting stops.
If you want to help achieve these goals, please support the excellent local work of Moorland Monitors and Rewilding Britain’s “Wilder National Parks” campaign.
Cllr Douglas Johnson, Executive member for climate change, environment and transport, Sheffield City Council