As we recap on 2021, it is fitting to see morning headlines showing a further £1m to save Scotland’s iconic red squirrels, topping up on the previous £2.45m.
Native reds are threatened by non-native grey squirrels. The populations of greys must be managed, if reds are to survive.
Gamekeepers have been managing grey squirrels for decades, voluntarily.
Imagine if they hadn't been?
This touches on the key message of the SGA’s Year of Employment project, #YofE2021, soon to become #YofE2022
Since the August launch, the SGA has highlighted work delivered by Scotland’s gamekeepers, ghillies of river and land and deer managers.
Just as it is with squirrels, this conservation task-force, the efforts to enhance biodiversity and to mitigate climate change has been delivered to Scotland, free of charge.
So, while the public purse subsidises red squirrel conservation (a worthy cause) a silent army of Scottish gamekeepers have been out there for many decades, quietly doing some of the hard yards - at no cost to Scotland.
Some people might not know this.
Hopefully, with the Year of Employment project now 5 months old, they are beginning to get hear the message more.
Amidst the many commitments the SGA undertakes, we have been able to showcase our Year of Employment work to diverse audiences.
Each MSP in the Scottish Parliament received launch details and a Project postcard. Encouragingly, we have had responses from all Holyrood parties.
Some wanted to know more about how SGA members have humanely managed over 1 million deer in a decade, benefitting climate and biodiversity while providing one of our leanest, sustainable foods (with low carbon miles). See our Deer Vision for how this can be maximised further: https://www.scottishgamekeepers.co.uk/deer-vision/
*If you are a member and want some project Postcards to hand out locally, or use for education, please email the office on firstname.lastname@example.org
They contain a Code where people can explore the project.
At the GWCT Scottish Game Fair and at the Game and Country Ltd Open Day, we took our project to the public and, in Spring 2022, we will attend a national conference in Edinburgh, extending the message further.
In the new Winter edition of Scottish Gamekeeper, we focused on rivers. At Meikleour, the ghillie team have spent years removing non-native Himalayan Balsam. Their work in non-native mink trapping has seen a welcome rise in kingfishers.
*If you are not an SGA member but want to receive our quarterly magazine, click the link below to find out about supporter and other memberships, from as little as £25 per year:
In mid-November, we were in the Scottish Borders, filming The Tree Planting Gamekeeper.
Not everyone realises the amount of trees, shrubs, hedgerows and wild cover planted and managed by gamekeepers; something Scottish Government and environmentalists want to see.
This work enhances shooting but it is also creating habitats and food for fragile small bird populations and declining pollinators, which would not exist without the motivation of providing shooting experiences for visitors.
The film, featuring SGA Chairman Alex Hogg, MBE, looked at his work delivering woodlands and wetlands, providing benefits for species, climate and biodiversity.
The film, and short clips, have been viewed many tens of thousands of times across our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq1tC9G-yug&t=16s
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Watch the film, here, if you haven’t done already. Click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq1tC9G-yug&t=16s
If you don’t know about our Year of Employment project, click here:
From the Office and Team, the editorial crew at Scottish Gamekeeper magazine and the SGA Committee, we wish you all the best for the festive season.
In 2022, our Year of Employment project won't stop telling of the good work our members undertake for climate, nature and biodiversity.
In the words of Jim Rohn: “How long should you try? Until.”
*(Team SGA would like to thank Michael Callan for the excellent wildlife photographs used in this blog).