Leading countryside organisations have today (Friday October 9) urged the Government to support a new blueprint for the shooting sector which aims to deliver a ‘game changing’ benefit for the environment

The guidelines provide the most comprehensive framework to date for the creation, management and restoration of habitat for wildlife.

The blueprint has been adopted by the British Association For Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Countryside Alliance (CA), the Moorland Association (MA), the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), the British Game Alliance (BGA), the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Game Farmers’ Association (GFA), representing thousands of members of the shooting community.

The ‘Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management’ have been developed by scientists at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and are designed to complement the Government’s 25-year environmental plan.

The countryside organisations have today written to the Environment Secretary George Eustice urging the government to endorse the guidelines which provide a framework for the future of shooting.

A spokesperson for the organisations said: “Decades of high-quality research show that when these principles are put into action, all forms of game management, including shoots where birds are released, can deliver the net biodiversity gain that all shoots should aim for.

“At a time when shooting is increasingly under scrutiny, we believe these principles and guidelines provide an excellent framework that shooting can willingly embrace and put into action. The evidence suggests that this could be a workable and durable arrangement built on science and more effective than increased regulation. 

“We would be very grateful if Defra could endorse these principles. The government's support will encourage everyone involved in game shooting to work to achieve the benefit for the environment that game shooting can deliver.”

The principles were developed with the support of other organisations and, vitally, the shoots and shooting community who need to follow them. Draft principles were written by the GWCT in autumn 2019, before being discussed at 19 private shoot briefing meetings, each with an audience of approximately 30 shoots, including some large commercial shoot operations.

An online consultation via the GWCT website gathered over 340 responses, with over 90 per cent support for the principles. 

The principles are based on agreed UK industry codes of practice, such as the Code of Good Shooting Practice and British Game Alliance standards, the UK legislative framework, (e.g. Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011) and align with international guidelines on sustainable use of natural resources, including the Bern Convention and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The GWCT’s Principle of Gamebird Management in the UK are available here: https://www.gwct.org.uk/principles


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