Monday, 29 September 2014

Mark Avery - gets it right… and wrong

by Andrew Gilruth - @AndrewGilruth

Last week the GWCT wrote a blog post “Sadness as Hen Harrier chicks go missing”. As a fact based conservation charity the GWCT did not use pictures of staff looking sad. Nor was there suggestive speculation that “…it was the keepers who done it…”

This appears to have been too much for Mark. He suggests the GWCT is not on the “same side as nature conservationists”. Daft. The GWCT is on nature’s side… like… conservationists. He is right that the GWCT does not lash out at farmers, gamekeepers or politicians on a regular basis – so it is true that we are not like all conservationists.

It is also true we have spent thousands of hours on the ground in the uplands to monitor and understand the facts. That is why we have not supported Mark’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting in England. He is absolutely right to confirm there is no evidence we represent the views of grouse shooters. Good. The GWCT is a charity. We are not a representative organisation.

We have contributed to and support the proposed Defra-led recovery plan for hen harriers. It focuses on success. It aims to see a healthy population of English hen harriers – alongside sustainable grouse shooting. Most importantly for the GWCT it will retain the conservation benefits to other threatened species delivered by gamekeepers.

The science behind the hen harrier recovery plan is settled. There remain a few conservationists arguing that the public will find the idea of adopting a successful conservation technique used for 15 years in France as ‘unacceptable’. A recent opinion poll said quite the opposite. Let’s hope a hen harrier recovery plan is in place before the next breeding season.

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