A new study from researchers at the University of Northampton reveals the great social and economic benefits moorland management, including grouse shooting, has on local communities

A new study has been conducted by the University of Northampton to assess the economic and social effects of integrated moorland management, including grouse shooting. Researchers found that the great benefits of grouse shooting are essential for the survival of moorland communities.

For more, discover the fantastic work of The Gift of Grouse campaign and seven regional moorland groups, who are educating the public on moorland management and giving a voice to those ‘up the glen’ at last. Read Gift of Grouse and regional moorland groups: empowering those ‘up the glen’.


A new and wide-ranging survey has been conducted into the economic and social effects of integrated moorland management, including grouse shooting, on moorland communities.

Researchers Professor Simon Denny and Tracey Latham-Green of the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact at the University of Northampton undertook the study. The report ‘What Impact does Integrated Moorland Management, including Grouse Shooting, have on Moorland Communities? A Comparative Study’ found that grouse shooting is part of a ‘complex web’ of integerated moorland management practices that have significant economic and social benefits on the local communities.

It was found that grouse shooting has direct economic benefits on local moorland communities – via increased tourism and employment opportunities – as well as indirect benefits, such as estates’ conservation investment and stewardship schemes which support local farmers.

It is estimated that the direct economic benefits are £67.7 million per annum. The indirect benefits are thought to be as high as £2 billion.

The survey also found that local communities had a higher than average level of job security, despite the study being conducted in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was found that estate owners attach a great sense of importance to conservation. 76% of estate owners stressed the importance of peat restoration and carbon sequestration. The research shows that this not only significantly improves tourism to the moorland areas, but also protects the communities from devastation by flooding and wildfires.

The study found that grouse shooting also has great social benefits for the local area.

Ms Latham Green said, “Areas of upland England managed for grouse shooting were found to have strong and vibrant communities, with upland, moorland residents expressing a stronger sense of belonging to the area they live in comparison with nationally available data… Statistically, residents in these areas were found to have lower levels of loneliness than the national average and those that took part in grouse shooting across a range of roles, not just as ‘shooting guns’, were found to have higher levels of wellbeing – measured using the short Warwick-Edinburgh mental well-being scale – than the national average.”

Communities in areas where there is grouse shooting were also found to have higher levels of physical fitness than average. 69% of survey respondents regularly complete 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise.

“It is therefore important that these strong, rural communities are maintained and this study has found grouse moor management is part of an integrated system of activities in these areas, which the evidence suggests is vital to the sustainability and long term health and well-being of the communities concerned,” Ms Latham-Green said.

Researchers have emphasised the importance of the economic benefits of grouse shooting for moorland communities to “thrive and not simply survive”. They also emphasised the social impact, with grouse shooting fostering deep-rooted connections within communites. They advise policy makers to consider both the economic and social impacts of any policy that might affect the ‘complex web’ of integrated moorland management, at the start of process of policy formation.