Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP has visited the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project this week to learn about moorland management and its relationship to rural socio-economic activity, and the conservation of both habitat and moorland bird numbers.

South West Farmer:

The Project is a partnership between Buccleuch Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England. The aim of the ten-year project, which is now entering its seventh year, is to demonstrate how moorland management for driven grouse shooting can be achieved in the presence of raptors. 

The plan has been to restore driven grouse shooting to the Langholm Moor and use this investment to help towards meeting the conservation objectives of the site.

From the outset the Project has chosen to demonstrate approaches and techniques of general relevance to upland management across Britain. The project has been visited by several hundred moorland managers, key decision makers and enthusiasts during its six years. There has been strong interest in innovative techniques such as diversionary feeding for the breeding hen harrier population, currently one of the most productive in the UK per nest, and the extensive habitat restoration which has been largely successful. The project is continuing to look into how and when it will achieve one of the key aims of the project, an economically sustainable harvest of grouse.

During his visit, Mr Wheelhouse met project staff and Directors before touring part of the moor and viewing examples of the management currently underway. Speaking after the visit, Project Manager, Graeme Dalby said:

“We are delighted that the Minister has visited Langholm. By seeing the work on the ground, the Minister has been able to link everything together and appreciate the whole moorland management picture.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Langholm Moor is an important project in demonstrating how red grouse shooting estates can co-exist alongside a healthy raptor population.

“While the research is still ongoing, it was very encouraging to hear evidence that the diversionary feeding of hen harriers has gone so well and I hope we can see this technique being adopted on other grouse moors throughout Scotland, informed by the findings of Langholm. 

“It was also of great value to learn more about some of the other important aspects of the project, in particular the extensive habitat restoration, which will benefit a wide range of species, and to hear about the collaborative work of the partner organisations within the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project.”

The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project aims to demonstrate an effective means of resolving the raptor-grouse moor controversy by restoring grouse moor management to the Langholm Moor SPA/SSSI as a way of meeting the conservation objectives of the site. In particular we are:
• demonstrating how to resolve conflicts between moorland management for raptors and red grouse
• maintaining the hen harrier population as viable component of the SPA
• extending and improving the heather moorland habitat beyond its state in 2002
• improving grouse production such that grouse shooting again becomes viable enough to support moorland management

This site has become a model for modern, sustainable grouse moor management. The duration of the project is ten years, subject to review every three years.