Opinion: Glorious 12th a celebration of conservation work on North York Moors

The 12th of August is the traditional date for the start of the grouse shooting season across the North York Moors and wider upland areas of Britain.

Ian Danby, Head of Biodiversity, British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

It is referred to as the “Glorious Twelfth” as the activity plays a significant part in generating many social, economic and conservation benefits.

It is the responsibility of gamekeepers and conservationists to keep the upland habitat in good condition and in doing so they play a key role in combating the current climate crisis.

Responsible management has overseen the blocking up of thousands of kilometres of agricultural drains and the planting of thousands of hectares of native trees in the right places.

Red grouse.

By undertaking this dedicated and often privately funded work, they have helped lock-up carbon, reduce the risk of flooding downstream and maintained the moorlands’ health.

These carefully prescribed actions also boost biodiversity.

Up to five times more threatened wading birds such as curlew and lapwing are found on managed grouse moors.

And 90 per cent of English grouse moors fall within either a National Park such as the North York Moors or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, showcasing their valued importance.

It is in these areas that you will find internationally important flora and fauna.

Grouse shooting provides participants with benefits including increased activity, reduced social isolation and increased engagement with nature.

These can have a significant impact on participants’ well-being and mental health.

A recent report by the University of Northampton found grouse shooting communities had lower levels of loneliness than the national average.

Currently 8.38 million people visit the North York Moors annually, generating spending of £730m and supporting 11,290 full-time equivalent jobs.

In multiple surveys, landscape, culture and wilderness rank highest in reasons for visiting.

Put simply, there is no other activity in Britain’s uplands that would create the same ‘complex web’ of benefits that is produced by managed moorlands.

We hope this year you take the opportunity to enjoy the moors and see them at their glorious best.