Appendix 1. Langholm Projects
The most contentious issue that we encountered during this inspection was that of the management of upland grouse moors and their relationship with raptors. The Langholm projects were instigated to explore this matter further and are described below.
Between 1992 and 1997, Langholm was the main study site for the 'Joint Raptor Study' investigating the relationships between hen harriers, peregrines and red grouse numbers. By the end of the study period in 1997, the numbers of hen harriers had peaked at 20 breeding females. The contrasting decline in red grouse numbers to a considerably lower than normal level was taken to indicate that it would be difficult to maintain a healthy red grouse population so long as the two species co-existed.
However, since the conclusion of the project period there has been considerable controversy over what the research did or did not demonstrate; the degree and level of land management activity and legal predator control on the moor before, during and after the study has been heavily debated. So much so, that Scottish Natural Heritage completely disregard the results that resulted from Langholm 1 and do not attach any scientific significance to them.
The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (Langholm 2) was launched on 20th September 2007 by the Scottish Environment Minister, Michael Russell. It was established by a unique partnership that includes The Buccleuch Group, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Game Conservancy Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Natural England. Its focus will be the management of a substantial red grouse moor on the Buccleuch Estates in Dumfriesshire. The moor includes around 7,000 hectares protected under European legislation because of its internationally recognised importance for the hen harrier.
With an investment of more than £3m over a ten-year period, the project will employ eight people. It aims to integrate the management of the moor for grouse, biodiversity and other land use interests. Indeed, more than half of the funding for the project comes from grouse moor interests, including The Buccleuch Group.
The management of Langholm Moor has been one of the most keenly debated conservation issues in the country in recent years. People from a number of key conservation and land management organisations have worked together to agree and develop a viable way forward. The partnership now in place carries considerable experience and expertise in land and conservation management, and in scientific monitoring.
The overall aim of the project is to establish Langholm Moor as an economically viable grouse moor that also meets the site's nature conservation objectives. It seeks to extend and improve the condition of the heather-dominated habitat through heather burning, bracken control and appropriate stock management to encourage heather recovery. In addition there will be legal predator control of foxes, crows, stoats and weasels, diversionary feeding of nesting hen harriers, habitat creation for hen harriers and other moorland breeding birds.