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This is the website of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project, a partnership between Buccleuch Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England.

More project details can be found here.




New papers published

Three new papers have been published by the project team, covering buzzard diets, and the abundance and breeding success of hen harrier and red grouse. You can find them in the publications section. Read more >

July grouse counts

The July density estimate 2016 is 58.3 birds per km2 (95%CL: 49.5-68.6). Adult breeding survival (based on distance sampling estimates) was 67% (50-89). Read more >

Harrier update - June 2016

Despite the low vole numbers we have (so far) confirmed seven harrier nests at Langholm. The first one is hatching now and the last one just started incubation.

Spring grouse counts

The spring density estimate 2016 is 35.4 birds per km2 (95%CL: 31.3-40.0). Overwinter survival (based on distance sampling estimates) was 46.6% (35.6-61.7). Read more >

Langholm Moor Demonstration Project next steps

Undertaking a review of structure and activity over the final year and a half of the project, the LMDP Board Directors have confirmed the project will continue until October 2017, with important changes to the management of the moor.

Directors acknowledged significant project successes in recovering heather habitats, stimulating black grouse numbers and demonstrating the role of diversionary feeding in reducing hen harrier predation on red grouse broods. The many and varied visitors to the project have illustrated the contribution of LMDP to demonstrating good moorland practice. The hard work of the keepering team was central to these results, with valuable support from the project science and volunteers.

However Directors agreed that with no realistic chance of reaching the target grouse density necessary for driven shooting, game keepering should be wound down, ending fully by April 2016. As well as the cessation of traditional keepering activities, there will be no diversionary food provided at the harrier’s nests or further novel habitat restoration. SRDP funded habitat management measures will continue through Langholm Farms.

Importantly the project will carry out another full year and half of monitoring, tracking habitat quality, numbers of moorland birds and the breeding success of the hen harriers over the 2016 and 2017 breeding seasons. This gives the project time to gather further information on the beneficial effects of moorland management, while the project scientists finalise a variety of reports for the Directors to review before publication.

A detailed review of the project’s achievements is available in the 7-year review. A Question & Answer paper, covering the next steps in more detail, will be available on the website soon.

Headkeeper leaves

Simon Lester, the LMDPs headkeeper, has resigned from the project and will be leaving at the end of March 2016. Simon has provided tireless leadership to the five-man keepering team which has undertaken the key management actions for the project. These have resulted in significant improvement of the heather habitat, the effective use of diversionary feeding of hen harriers each summer and the management of parasites and predators. These measures have increased the numbers of red and black grouse, and breeding raptors, notably hen harriers. This mixture of traditional and novel management has been successfully demonstrated to hundreds of project visitors by Simon in collaboration with the projects science team.

Despite a larger grouse population than at the start, the project has not been able to produce a sustainably large, harvestable surplus of driven grouse to economically underpin the management. LMDP is now close to its formal end point and the board is reviewing what can and should be achieved in the remaining term of the project. The project board would like to thank Simon for his exceptional contribution.

Seven Year Review

See here for more information about the Seven Year Project Review.

2014 Raptor Monitoring Report

The 2014 report on which and how many breeding raptors there were at Langholm this year is available here.

Position Statements for project up to 2013

We have developed statements summarising progress to date. More details can be found here.


We've been on BBC Springwatch...

...and on ITV Border's 'Border Life' programme -



Upland moors of heather and blanket bog are important for nature conservation, landscape and recreation. Grouse shooting, as well as supporting the rural economy in the uplands, has helped to retain heather by holding back plantation forestry and, less successfully, over-grazing by sheep. Grouse moors are good areas for breeding waders like curlew and golden plover, but are poor for some birds of prey like the hen harrier.

On grouse moors breeding hen harriers can kill many grouse chicks and so they are still not tolerated on many moors, in spite of legal protection.

Langholm Moor was the main study site of the Joint Raptor Study (1992-1997) which measured the effect of hen harriers and other raptors on red grouse numbers. This study's report, and subsequent published research papers, document this.

Subsequently Langholm Moor became part of the Newcastleton Hills Special Protection Area (SPA) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which are notified principally for the hen harrier population.

The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project is a partnership between the moor owner, Scottish and English conservation agencies, and conservation and research charities. It is an outcome for Scotland's Moorland Forum and will link with the Environment Council discussion on reconciling bird of prey conservation with grouse shooting.


Enjoying the view