A guest post by Max Wiszniewski
A couple of weeks ago Paul kindly hosted a guest blog by Revive to discuss the case for radical grouse moor reform. It was the lead-up to the Scottish National Party’s Autumn conference, where members of the party would be able to engage with the campaign to change the face of Scotland.
Revive met hundreds of enthusiastic supporters of the campaign within the party and well over 200 people attended our fringe meeting which focussed on the intimidation culture of grouse moors, the climate crisis and the untold suffering of Scotland’s wildlife.
Former Environment Minister and chair of the session, Stewart Stevenson MSP, introduced Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland who discussed the makeup of the room which was a strong mix of people concerned about land reform, wildlife and the environment and how Scotland can use our land so much better. It becomes clear that this is a campaign that’s about far more than just animal welfare, as opponents to this much needed change would have you believe.
Nevertheless, we offered an exclusive preview of our soon to be published report called Untold Suffering – the story of how untold thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of animals die to increase grouse numbers for sport shooting. The case for animal welfare is something often ignored by government reports so it is essential that we push for those concerns to be included in any future action taken. There was also a lot of value to bringing people from different interests together to see this side of grouse moors – of joining the dots holistically – so look out for this report when we launch it in a week or so.
Councillor Julie Bell (SNP Kirriemuir and Dean) spoke about the intimidation she and people in her local area experience from the industry – the almost feudal-like culture where a few very rich people have the land and therefore the power. Some of the personal tales were quite shocking and are not out of line with many others we’ve heard from elsewhere from tenants, people who live nearby or those just visiting the areas. If you have any of those experiences yourself, please consider getting in touch as we’d be interested in hearing your story (anonymously if you wish).
Finally, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, showed how grouse moors are a prime target for dealing with the climate crisis. The amount of environmental damage done to sustain unnaturally high grouse numbers, like from heather muirburn, mass outdoor medication and the thousands of kilometres of bulldozed hilltracks that scar the landscape, is a huge problem that needs tackled.
Intensively managed grouse moors fly in the face of Nicola Sturgeon’s declared climate emergency. When Revive is successful in its campaign aims our local environments will be much better protected and our carbon sequestration potential significantly increased as part of a ‘Green New Deal’ Scotland. But what is a ‘Green New Deal’ Scotland?
It is a name taken from the famous ‘New Deal’ in America, a series of public works projects, financial reforms and regulations, and is credited with the recovery of America after the Wall Street Crash. A true Green New Deal for Scotland, of which land ownership and use is at the centre, would mean new opportunities for our people, our wildlife and our environment – well beyond anything the status-quo could provide.
That’s the opportunity of Revive – to reimagine our land as something other than a playground for the few but as an opportunity for us all. The membership of the Scottish National Party seem ready to take the next step with Revive as we target the land use that takes up between 12-18% of Scotland. We hope that the rest of the country will join us too.
Max Wiszniewski is Campaign Manager for Revive. Revive is a coalition of like-minded organisations working for reform of Scotland’s grouse moors. The coalition is made up by Common Weal, Friends of the Earth Scotland, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, OneKind, and Raptor Persecution.
*Many branches at SNP conference expressed an interest in backing a motion to Spring Conference and Councillor Julie Bell has offered to coordinate this. If you and your SNP branch are interested please feel free to get in touch here and we will pass your contact details on.