I have been meaning to give a plug for the post, http://cairngorms.co.uk/guest-blog-time-to-move-with-the-times/, from Will Boyd Wallis, Head of Land Management at the Cairngorms National Park, on grouse moor management. He was encouraging people to respond to the current consultation on the CNPA’s new Partnership Plan and I think was suggesting, as far as someone in his position can, that its time for change. This is welcome but I believe if change is going to happen people need to respond to the Park’s consultation and say that the stated objectives in their current form are totally inadequate.
You only need to spend a day on the hill to see why. I was out on Saturday and did a loop up Glen Bruar, over Beinn Dearg, then headed north for a couple of kilometres before dropping down to the Allt a Chuil, which runs through a wild, remote and unspoilt glen, and then back round to the northern end of Glen Bruar. I took the track out over Creag Bhagailteach to Calvine. Apart from the woodland along the A9 corridor and the summit slopes, almost the entire route was over moorland.
In over 20 miles of moorland habitat I saw several hundred red grouse – as soon as you step off track you appreciate they are everywhere – but very little else: 1 buzzard, 1 carrion crow, a few meadow pipit, 1 dipper and, on the summit slopes of Beinn Dearg, two mountain hare and 7 ptarmigan. That was it. Now, I am sure I missed some wildlife as I was jogging and my eyesight is not what it as, but I think this was a pretty accurate reflection of the wildlife “balance” on the Bruar grouse moors. Grouse and not much else. A land of plenty mainly for grouse shooters and the hen harrier. Despite stopping, scanning the moorland and hoping against hope, there were no harriers to be seen. I am sure Glen Bruar has more than enough red grouse to support a pair but maybe I just missed them.
All the slopes along the glen had been subject to muirburn and there was evidence of this to altitudes of c850m.
There was other evidence too of intensive grouse moor management from the track high onto Beinn A Chait (yes there were wildcats here once) to medicated grit.
I think moorland is a misleading term for this country, its not natural at all, “game reserve” or “grouse farm” would be more accurate.
Commentary on the CNPA’s “Targets/Preferred Direction” for grouse moors in the draft Partnership Plan
CNPA Plan “Expand peatland restoration projects”. COMMENTARY this sounds good but in Glen Bruar significant areas of peatland have been destroyed by the new hydro scheme consented to by the CNPA! It would be interesting to know how much peatland has been lost in the National Park because of new hill tracks and other developments consented to under the planning system compared to the amount that has been restored.