by Countryside Alliance

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) promotes best practice game management as a force for good for nature conservation and environmental improvement on farmland, woodland, moorland, and wetland. In order to promote best practice, and sustainable game management that aims to deliver a net gain for biodiversity, the Trust has just launched its ‘Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management’.

In recent weeks, conservation bodies have called for action after a ‘lost decade’ of nature conservation, and concerns that nature is ‘in freefall’. The GWCT’s 12 principles of sustainable gamebird management outline how good game management could be part of the solution.

“Biodiversity net gain is embedded in Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan and research shows that sustainable gamebird management can deliver that”, notes Dr Roger Draycott, the GWCT’s director of advisory and education. “We hope these provide not just practical guidance for game managers and participants in game shooting, but broaden the discussion about practical land use for conservation organisations, Government and the general public”.

The principles were developed with the support of the Countryside Alliance and other organisations and, vitally, the shoots and shooting community who need to follow them. Draft principles were written by the GWCT in autumn 2019, before being discussed at 19 private shoot briefings, each with an audience of approximately 30 shoots, including some large commercial enterprises.

An online consultation via the GWCT website gathered over 340 responses, with over 90% support for the principles. This groundwork was vital according to Roger Draycott: “Feedback from the meetings with shoots was very helpful. The sector needs to self-regulate effectively and, by securing support for the principles, we have confidence that these will be well adopted”.

The principles are based on agreed UK industry codes of practice, such as the Code of Good Shooting Practice and British Game Alliance standards, the UK legislative framework, (e.g. Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011) and align with international guidelines on sustainable use of natural resources, including the Bern Convention and the International Union for Conservation of Nature .

The full principles can be seen here.

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