Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC)

Shooters can help the government realise its ambitions but there is no mention of shooting in the white paper. This is a major omission and the EFRA committee should recommend that Defra rectifies this situation, drawing on the following five points:

1.Shooting in the UK is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area. Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation. Shoot providers spend £250 million a year on conservation and in total, shooting is worth £1.6 billion [GVA] to the UK economy. These figures are taken from the independent study The Economic and Environmental Impact of Sporting Shooting2. This is a staggering amount of land, illustrated by the fact that shooters in the south east of England manage three times more land than all the land managed by the Wildlife Trusts across the UK.

2.Land managed for shooting contains a wealth of wildlife. As part of its Green Shoots2 project BASC has surveyed over 7,700 sq km of land managed by BASC members in Northern Ireland, North Wales, Cheshire, Somerset Levels and Dorset. From these surveys BASC members have generated over 52,000 new records for species and habitats of conservation concern, transforming the conservation community’s knowledge of their distribution and status.

3.Shooters are successful at partnership working to achieve landscape scale improvements to our natural environment. In Cheshire BASC members are working together with Cheshire’s Biodiversity Partnership to create 17 km of linked hedgerow and woodland to link together two isolated dormouse populations. Stretching from the Somerset Levels to the south coast BASC members have created a landscape level lifeline for the water vole by working with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Somerset/Dorset Wildlife Trusts to control mink and improve water vole friendly habitats. Four independent studies have shown unprecedented increases in the water vole population due to this project.

4.Shooters create recreational opportunities. BASC has developed the £1.6 million Country Sports South West project to help rural businesses which offer country sporting activities with marketing and delivery of a quality product. The team also provide advice on starting new sporting enterprises. The project is supported by the South West RDA, Defra and West Country Rivers Trust.

5.Shooters can help the government realise its ambitions. Shooters have been conserving wildlife for hundreds of years. They understand that a healthy quarry population relies upon good quality habitat and this concept remains at the heart of sporting shooter’s ethos today. Shooters work hard to help the environment yet they rarely see any statutory recognition of that work. This government must redress the balance and a good starting point some recognition of shooting is needed in the Natural Environment White Paper.


1 www.shootingfacts.co.uk

2 www.basc.org.uk/en/conservation/green-shoots/

16 June 2011

Prepared 16th July 2012