THE new chairman of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is ready to embrace the ‘huge challenges’ ahead as we enter a Brexit era.
Sir Jim Paice, who started his new role in July, hopes to achieve more for our countryside, wildlife and shooting during his time as chairman.
As a keen Gun, he wants to increase the understanding of shoot conservation and improve standards by raising awareness of Guns’ legal and ethical obligations.
So far, the GWCT has done this through the publication of its new book The Knowledge: Every Gun’s Guide to Conservation, which is aimed at seasoned Guns as well as those new to shooting.
“The continuing conflicts in the world of shooting, bag sizes, releasing, predator control and lead shot all need science as the basis of resolution. So, the work of GWCT is vital to the interests of hundreds of thousands of sportsmen, farmers and conservationists; yet barely 20,000 are our members,” he said.
“I would like to see all these people join us but let us start with the shooting community. I feel very strongly that people who shoot should appreciate all that goes into it and the countryside where it happens. If all our members insisted that anyone who shoots on their land, either as a guest or a client joined GWCT, it would get us going.
“I hate hearing of shooters who know and care little about the countryside which is providing their enjoyment - the least they can do is support the work that enables it to survive. Personally, I would rather they didn’t shoot at all than to simply want to exploit it but I know that is unrealistic.”
Sir Jim, pictured left, has always had a passion for farming and his career started by joining the Young Farmers’ club.
By 1987, he became a Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire as well as holding roles as Parliamentary Private Secretary to John Major as Prime Minister and as a junior Education Minister. In 2010, he became Minister of State for Defra – a role which he spent two years in.
“The impact of Brexit on farming and through that on our countryside and wildlife as new environmental schemes are developed, are central to our cause so we are very involved in advising government on their design. While the economics of farming will depend more on the eventual trade deals, nevertheless it seems that most will do more environmental measures,” he added.
Sir Jim’s involvement with the Trust began 20 years ago when he was invited to join the trustees of the then, Game Conservancy Trust, as the MP Trustee.
More recently, he’s been chairman of both the GWCT’s Allerton Project committee in Loddington and of the organisation’s Lowland Research Steering Committee.
He continued: “I have seen so much more of the excellent work done by our superb specialists. While game issues, including grouse, salmon and trout, are central to our activities, our work on other species such as songbirds, corvids, raptors and in developing new farming techniques, makes us the leading research organisation in our field.
“But it is not just research, education, especially at Loddington, means we now provide qualifications through BASIS in Countryside Management for advisers from FWAG, land agents and increasingly agronomists.”
Sir Jim says he’s ‘privileged and honoured’ to take over from GWCT’s longest-serving chairman Ian Coghill, who stepped down after a remarkable eight years in charge.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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