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
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.