Landowners spend more than £52.5 million managing the grouse moors of England and Wales, according to a 25th-anniversary survey by the Moorland Association. They employ 350 gamekeepers-employment of keepers is up by 25% and create 42,500 days of work a year for contractors and local people on shoot days. Some 6,500 hotel rooms are booked for grouse shooting, for which the season starts tomorrow.

Each moor will run an average of eight days’ shooting between now and December 10, but most will only claw back 40% of what they spend. Land-owners have spent £30 million on regenerating heather over 89 square miles (about the size of Birmingham), beating the Government target by 170%; 1.1 million trees have been planted; 4,485 mini moorland ponds created; 65 square miles of invasive bracken treated; and 257 miles (roughly the distance from London to Penzance) of dry-stone walls created.

‘Despite the recession, owners haven’t curbed management spending,’ says association chairman Edward Bromet. ‘However, there are 390 square miles where heather has been lost-we need new conservation targets. Heather regeneration is the essential building block, with gamekeepers, of moorland management.’