THE results for the ninth Savills and Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) game and conservation benchmarking survey for the 2018/19 shooting season demonstrate the significant amount of environmental management work already undertaken by shoots.
Of the participating shoots 74% are using land covered by a stewardship agreement and 81% responded positively to joining a successor scheme when their current agreement expires.
David Steel director of Savills comments, “Most of the environmental indicators we monitor via the survey show results consistent with previous seasons including the fact that nearly half of participants undertake self-funded environment work.”
However, alongside these positive environmental contributions it is clear that shoot economics continue to be finely balanced as inflating costs necessitate increased charges.
Variable costs per bird put down at £9.25 were 7% higher when compared to the 2017/18 season. This was mainly accounted for by a 9% increase in feed costs due to higher cereal prices. Also beaters’ and pickers’ up pay on average increased by 13% per bird put down and is the third largest variable cost.
On 47% of participating shoots, the average income per bird shot on let days was lower than the price quoted per bird due to the leeway offered before overages were charged. The birds that are not charged for effectively supress the average income per bird. This highlights how important it is to review the shoots income and costs thoroughly when setting prices to ensure costs are covered.
Roger Draycott, GWCT Head of Advisory said ‘This benchmarking survey provides a unique insight into the economic and environmental performance of shoots. With game shooting in the spotlight at the moment, the survey provides a useful tool to help shoots ensure they are optimising the economic and environmental benefits that good game management can deliver’.
Looking ahead to next season, 63% of shoots plan to increase their charges which is less than the 84% that intended to for the most recent season. Where shoots are planning to increase their prices for the 2019/20 season, on average the intention is to increase pheasant charges by £1.53 and partridge by £1.36.
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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