Sunday, 23 July 2017

Petition handover to the National Trust

Campaign groups representatives gathered on the Hope Woodlands
estate near the Snake Pass on 16th July, prior to handing nearly 5,000
signatures to the National Trust. (Moorland Vision CC-by-SA 4.0)
UPDATE: National Trust cancels petition handover, three hours before meeting. Now being re-scheduled for: 1st Aug 2017 at Kedleston Hall.
So there's still time to sign!
More to follow...

This week,  Moorland Vision will be handing over almost  5,000 petition signatures to the National Trust.

Two representatives of the campaign and of its 15 supporter organisations will meet with the Trust's Director for the Midlands, Andy Beer, at their  Hardwick Hall offices in Derbyshire on Tuesday 25th July.
While our petition praises the Trust for its decision last year to evict its grouse shooting tenant from the 8,000 hectares of Peak District moorland around Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, it also calls on them not to appoint another shooting tenant. Instead, we ask the Trust to work alongside other conservation partners (if necessary) to better manage and rewild these iconic moorland landscapes for the benefit of biodiversity and the landscape.

36% are National Trust members
1,300 signatures were gathered on paper by attending local meetings around the Peak District, by petitioning directly in Edale village itself and, of course, meeting and talking with visitors.
Significantly for the Trust, 36% of all those who signed in person declared themselves to be members of the NT. We think this shows there is a significant proportion of members around Derbyshire and the Peak District who have concerns about the future of this large estate

Gathering signatures on the National Trust's
estate near the Snake Pass, Derbyshire.
Online Petition
In addition, a further 3,433 signatures were obtained via an online petition  – again, all by local promotion rather than tapping into national campaigning opportunities. This has always been a local initiative launched by a National Trust member and promoted by local people.

So, who makes the decision?
Mr Beer tells us he is the person who will decide whether or not to appoint another tenant to shoot grouse on the Hope Woodlands and Park Hall estates. We hope his decision will reflect the increasingly enlightened view of land management now emerging from the National Trust.

It is becoming clear that running a grouse shooting business is not only a driver for wildlife crime, but also for long-term damage to the flora, fauna and character of the landscape, and that many local people and outdoor groups are deeply concerned about this. We hope Mr Beer sees the value in working with other conservation partners if necessary to enhance these iconic landscapes around Kinder Scout and Bleaklow (just as they have shown they can do elsewhere in Derbyshire) and not simply hand their management over to another shooting tenant and untrustworthy local gamekeepers.

It would be a shame if some half-way decision - perhaps to allow 'walked-up' grouse shooting - were to be implemented, rather than seizing the bigger opportunity now facing us.

A One-off Opportunity
There are 222 shooting butts on these two National Trust estates. They're surrounded by vast, privately owned tracts of moorland on which shooting and moorland over-management will undoubtedly continue for some years to come. With 1,220 shooting butts in total across the Peak District there will still be plenty of opportunities for those who really does want to pursue this hobby of shooting at grouse at the expense of the rest of us and the environment.

BBC journalist interviewing Bob Berzins from the
Dark Peak Fell Runners.
And in one fell swoop the NT could create a huge wildlife refuge, here in the heart of the Peak District where  habitat restoration and re-wilding is the driver for change, and where anyone seen with a gun is likely not be out to help wildlife. This would be brave and innovative, and worthy of this conservation organisation.

It's not about guns.
This petition is not trying to ban shooting, nor is it just about our missing hen harriers. It's about restoring the balance in favour of biodiversity and removing the drivers for wildlife crimes on National Trust land. Its about the missing mosses and vascular plants, it's about the burned out invertebrates and reptiles, the depauperate habitats where management for shooting takes the lead, and about the apex raptors that should all be present, but which are not. It's about supporting the Trust in protecting and restoring the appearance of the landscape, and gaining better ecosystem services once more. Removing heather burning, flubendazole-laced medicated grit, the halting of damaging tracks laid  on sensitive peatlands to access shooting areas and the halting of raptor persecution will all help to get that balance back and deliver the National Trust’s own vision for the High  Peak. It doesn't need artificial levels of grouse and over-management to do it. Thinking it allowing it to continue here would be a flawed decision.

We hope that all the voices expressed by local people will encourage the National Trust to do the right thing for the environment and work with other conservation groups if necessary to deliver the best outcomes for biodiversity and the landscape.

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