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Game Fair Diary

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

The Game Fair has today been used to launch two things: firstly a new shooting partnership between nine leading rural organisations - including the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Countryside Alliance and BASC - called Aim to Sustain.

And secondly, Ian Coghill’s new book, Moorland Matters.

Firstly, Aim to Sustain. The concept behind it is that the nine organisations will be working closely to protect and promote sustainable shooting, biodiversity and the rural community. The reasoning is to enable the organisations to work more closely to promote sustainability in shooting. To promote the role of game shooting in improving biodiversity, supporting rural communities and economies, and protecting the countryside more broadly. And as one partnership, the groups can work together to enable their voice to be stronger.

As Lord Herbert of the Countryside Alliance explained at the Game Fair launch today:

“This is a NATO for shooting organisation. It isn’t a merger but a coalition, a decision that we are going to work more closely together because the threat is escalating. We decided that the time had come to make this coalition overt, and to be able to promote and defend shooting better in the media and in Westminster.”

The feeling within the various organisations is that there has for a long time been a clamour within their membership for the various organisations to work together. With sustainability and green politics coming further to the fore of political debates, it’s vital that all of the rural organisations are able to promote their work and conservation achievements to the best of their combined abilities.

We know that moorland keepers and managers work hard throughout the year on improving the biodiversity of the uplands and on projects such as rewetting peat. There are fantastic conservation stories to be told, and through Aim and Sustain these stories can reach a far larger audience.

We have of course already written about Ian Coghill’s fantastic book in these pages, but his account of what is currently happening in the moorlands, from his mouth (rather than his pen) was fascinating to hear.

“The traditional way of managing moors is about to change unless we’re very careful”, he warned, arguing that his book is “not angry, but firm”.

He highlighted the examples that currently exist of what happens if you remove moorland management - such as the RSPB’s Lake Vyrnwy, where their lack of management has resulted in a thriving population of curlew being completely decimated.

The serious problem with many of the conservation charities, he argues, is that they consider the inhabitants of the uplands and the landowners as an inconvenience. If they were removed and the conservationists allowed to do things their own way, the moors would be “straightened out”. This is simply not true.

“Walk into an urban community and say ‘this is what you’re going to do’, and the local people would be outraged and so would the regulators and councillors. In rural England it’s normal for someone to turn up with a clipboard and tell you what to do,” said Coghill.

“I think the RSPB are institutionally prejudiced against the people who live on the moors… Plenty of people on the conservation industry would rather see species die out than work with me. That’s not conservation, that’s prejudice.”


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