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The results of an independent report commissioned by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust show what sportsmen have known for generations, that shooting is good for the economy as well as the environment.

Grouse shooting in Scotland generates at least £23.3 million per annum for the rural economy according to the report, produced by the Fraser of Allander Institute, Strathclyde University. The sport also supports the equivalent of 1072 full-time jobs.

These figures are particularly significant as they relate to rural areas where employment and the local economy tend to be limited.

Habitat management and predator control are major costs borne by sporting estates as they preserve and improve heather moorland and support healthy grouse stocks. Stewart Dunlop, of the Fraser Allander Institute is in no doubt of the important role that shooting plays in Scotland, saying “With the Scottish Environment Secretary arguing that Scottish natural heritage tourism is vital to the Scottish economy, this report strongly suggests that Scottish policymakers should engage with the grouse industry to secure and potentially increase its contribution to the Scottish economy. ”

Since the last review was condicted in 2001 many more grouse moors have become profitable, now up to 41% from only 1% in the 1990s.However fewer grouse are being shot. Dr Alan Smith of the GWCT sees the vital contribution grouse shooting makes as remaining at risk,

“This report clearly shows that Scotland is benefitting to the tune of millions of pounds from economically active moors, where grouse shooting is the main aim. It is therefore a grave concern that grouse numbers appear to remain under pressure from predation, disease and future afforestation when shooting has such socio-economic benefits. The GWCT is working with the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association and Scottish Gamekeepers Association amongst others to ensure that policies and tools are developed by Government and agencies that ensure grouse shooting can continue. Let’s hope that the grouse season in 2010 allows businesses, communities and the economy to reap the rewards of hard working gamekeepers and other moorland managers.”