Gamekeepers in Scotland manage habitat and wildlife in order to provide a harvestable surplus of game for sustainable country sports experiences.
This management by gamekeepers not only helps produce game species for sporting shooting but benefits many other species such as ground nesting birds and songbirds, which benefit from legal predator control.
Habitat management, such as rotational heather burning on grouse moors, coppicing of woodlands, the creation and maintenance of ponds and wetlands and the planting of cover crops also plays a vital role in wider conservation and biodiversity, see here
Gamekeepers legally manage, under license, pests such as foxes, crows, rats, stoats and weasels which, uncontrolled, can cause significant damage to crops, forestry and the survival chances of game and other species such as wading birds.
The skilled management of predators and habitat helps to maintain a balance in the countryside, providing food for species such as golden eagles and over-winter sustenance for many species.
Gamekeepers and stalkers also manage deer, using their knowledge to provide a sporting cull but also to keep deer numbers at a level which balances sport with animal welfare and the need to reduce grazing impacts on land and forestry.
River ghillies provide skilled management of Scotland’s lochs and rivers, helping promote the health of waterways and the species they sustain, such as salmon, trout and freshwater pearl mussels. Good riverbank management is important to many species, both aquatic and non-aquatic.
Scottish Gamekeepers Association members play a vital role in helping to police rural areas, maintaining strong links with local Police forces, fire services and mountain rescue teams. The round-the-clock nature of their work means they can be a vital source of information if things go wrong in remote places.
Gamekeepers, stalkers, ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers also help to create paths which enable access to the hills for sporting visitors, rural working operations and recreational hill walkers and climbers.
Today, our industry in Scotland is highly regulated with gamekeepers and ghillies attending college to gain relevant qualifications, some which are mandatory. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association provides guidance and training on best practice for its members and maintains strong working links with Scotland’s colleges and training providers.