Scotland’s grouse estates have contributed more than £23m to the country’s economy, according to a recent survey.
The report, examining 45 Scottish grouse estates, was conducted by Scotland’s seven regional moorland groups and highlights the role that estates and grouse-shooting play in rural communities.
It found that the estates spent an average of around £500,000 with local businesses in the last year, and analysis of accounts during 2015/16, showed that more than £23m flows directly into local businesses as a result of estates’ activities.
It came as more than 350 gamekeepers, their families and traders took part in a march in Edzell in Angus to mark the upcoming grouse season which begins on Saturday 12 August, known as the Glorious Twelfth.
Animal rights groups have condemned the tradition as ridiculous.
However, Helen Savage, coordinator of the Lammermuirs Moorland Group, said the survey found benefits for lots of businesses including plant hire firms, and florists.
She said: “What the study couldn’t really look at, because the data was not available, was the income hotels, accommodation providers, restaurants and other local attractions receive from visiting shooters.
“A party of international sportsmen or women coming to the Lammermuirs shoots will stay locally, eat in local places and will also go visiting other attractions whilst in Scotland so there are widespread benefits trickling through the economy from business generated from the grouse shooting estates.
“If you add to that the number of direct and indirect jobs then you really get a flavour of what the estates are investing in the local and national economy.”
Lianne MacLennan, of Scotland’s regional moorland groups, said: “Grouse shooting attracts criticism in some quarters but the survey tells the story of the value of country sports to smaller rural communities.
“The results do not show the wages that keep the gamekeepers and their families in the glen villages. What we wanted to understand better is how the impacts trickle down.
“There is not a rural community in these seven areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business people are deriving from all the work that goes on in these places.
“It is not just shooting-related businesses, either, it is everything from wine sellers to clothing companies, fencers, architects and garages. Those businesses are out in force today, standing shoulder to shoulder with the gamekeepers ahead of another busy season.”