Shoot Biodiversity Assessments

Coppice UnderstoreyIn common with other land-based activities, many shoots face increasing pressure to demonstrate sustainability and measureable biodiversity gain arising from their activities. For the great majority of shoots, this is likely to be significant where, for example, the creation of game habitats, supplementary feeding and control of predators is likely to have beneficial impacts on farmland birds. But how many shoots are capable of quantifying such benefits, how might game management be modified to maximise these benefits and, on a shoot-by-shoot basis, what species of conservation concern might be “targeted” for recovery?

Particularly on larger shoots,  statements of “best practice” are increasingly important in discussion with conservation agencies and addressing criticism of game shooting.

To meet this, the GWCT’s experienced and respected team of advisors offer bespoke Shoot Biodiversity Assessments aimed at providing an independent expert report on best practice and biodiversity gain on individual shoots. For further information, please contact advisory@gwct.org.uk.

Biodiversity Assessment - what is involved

  • A thorough on-site survey of your shoot
  • Careful examination of release sites (if any)
  • A review of the feeding system
  • Examination of game and wildlife habitat and how it is managed
  • A review of predation control strategy and practice
  • A confidential report on the current state of the shoot
  • An action plan for future improvement of both shoot and biodiversity

A shoot owner’s perspective - by Barney Stratton

I run a commercial shoot at Stockton in Wiltshire. We run a pretty intensive operation over a substantial acreage and employ five full-time keepers. We believe we do things to a very high standard, offering high quality sport from professional management and we also do our best to conserve the wildlife that shares the ground with our game.

Last summer I had a biodiversity visit from Mike Swan and this turned out to be really useful. On a very simple level, it allowed us all to stand back and examine what we were doing as a whole. It was very reassuring to find out that we were working in the right direction and doing more beneficial things than we might have realised. Mike also pointed out one or two areas where the keepers would gain from a brief training session to bring them up to date with current practice.

In common with many shoots, we have been trying to reintroduce grey partridges but without much success. Mike suggested that our landscape had changed so much over the years, that we really no longer had sufficient good grey partridge habitat to warrant this. The woods planted in the more open areas by previous generations have seen to that.

However, 2013 brought us a new success with the first breeding lapwings for several years on our cover crop areas. Mike helped identify what we had done right, and that we could probably build on this by putting together a set of proposals to further improve their prospects by providing extra habitat and enhancing predation control in the main lapwing area. We have high hopes that this will be a further little ongoing conservation benefit that we can offeras a result of the shoot.

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