New environmental schemes can highlight shooting’s positive role in the countryside

The government’s new environmental land management schemes are an open door for management practices undertaken for shooting and conservation, says the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

The two new schemes unveiled by the Secretary of State for Defra George Eustice at the Oxford Farming Conference will play a pivotal role in the Governments’ objectives of halting the decline of species by 2030, bringing up to 60% of England’s agricultural soil under sustainable management by 2030, and restoring 300,000 hectares of wildlife habitat by 2042.

Responding to the announcement, Ian Danby, BASC head of biodiversity, said: “These new schemes offer a superb opportunity for people who shoot to work with landowners to put forward good quality applications for funding. Both schemes are looking to restore natural processes, increase more extensive land management and promote the recovery of England’s most threatened species. Management practices undertaken for shooting already contribute towards these objectives and can do so to a greater extent through these schemes.

“Although we are all awaiting the detailed guidance of this pilot stage, BASC suggest applications need to highlight where sustainable shooting will enhance the project and where it will directly improve the quality of habitats created and the recovery of species.”

BASC has been party to the development process of these two schemes. The Landscape Recovery Scheme is aimed at large scale and long-term projects to provide landscape and ecosystem recovery. This could suit larger landowners working together, like shooting estates, to conserve key species such as the curlew or rewet peatland habitats.

The Local Nature Recovery Scheme is aimed at single or multiple farm-scale interventions to make more space for nature. This could fit in with the aspirations of farm-scale shooting activity that want to see improved habitat on farmlands such as shelterbelts, cover crops and woodland management.