BASC has to fight political battles to defend shooting and that means we can never be a charity. But by setting up a charitable trust we can vastly increase the shooting worldâ€™s conservation work for years to come. Here is how every pound you give could be worth ten, and shooting sports become ever more secure.
Shooting can only thrive where the habitat is actively managed for game species, and what is good for game is good for other wildlife. As a result, shooting is potentially the most powerful force for conservation in the UK today.
The figures speak for themselves; every year shooters spend Â£250 million on conservation; in comparison the RSPBâ€™s net income last year was just Â£89 million. And while many people consider an adequate contribution to biodiversity is an annual subscription to a society, shooters get out into the countryside and do the hard graft in field and wood. We spend 2.7 million days on conservation â€“ the equivalent of 12,000 full-time jobs.
The wildlife trusts manage 93,000 hectares, RSPB reserves cover 165,000 hectares, shooters actively manage 2,000,000 hectares for conservation â€“ an area the size of Wales. Yet, as shooters, we seldom grasp the full impact of our efforts and they are rarely recognised in the wider world.
But the work by shoots has produced some dramatic results. An obvious problem for other conservationists is gaining access to private land. This can result in a seriously distorted view of wildlife populations simply because those who are recording them do not visit the places where that particular creature is abundant â€“ on private land.
So when shoots in Cheshire took part in the first BASC Green Shoots survey we discovered that barn owls were significantly more widespread than had been suspected. And they flourished on land managed for shooting.Â By improving the habitat on our shoots we not only change the physical landscape but through encouraging threatened species we can change the political landscape as well.
This is why BASCâ€™s conservation effort is so important to you and to the future of your sport.
The resources at our command are impressive and other conservationists acknowledge this, but we could increase our impact tenfold through the landfill tax that all operators pay when they bury waste. Part of this income is available for conservation work and for every pound we raise the Landfill Communities Fund could give us nine more. Gift Aid increases this to Â£12.50. New sources of income have become critically important since government funding from other sources is drying up.
Nevertheless, BASC could still access money for vital conservation projects through the landfill tax – but only if a third party contributes at least 11.5 per cent of the total project cost. We have therefore created a charitable trust that could unlock this money. The Conservation Trust (Marford Mill) is an independent charity designed specifically to release landfill tax funds. This means that when BASC applies to the landfill fund to support a project we can be sure that we are capable of providing the third party contribution through an application to the Conservation Trust.
But the trust needs sufficient funds to accomplish this. That is why we are making this appeal; rememberÂ every pound you donate could become ten, and with the benefit of Gift Aid this becomes Â£12.50.
But, you may wonder, shouldnâ€™t we be spending that on the defence of shooting? We emphatically are. There is no surer defence of shooting than for it to be fully recognised as an indispensable component of the UK conservation strategy.
The more resources we can put into proving that shooting is a force for good in the countryside the stronger our position becomes. We must convince others that an attack on shooting is an attack on conservation, and thanks to the multiplier of the land fill tax it is something we can realistically hope to achieve.
BASCâ€™s Green Shoots project, which would be the major beneficiary of landfill funding is unique. It is a biodiversity action plan for the shooting community set up in response to the governmentâ€™s international obligations.Â In essence it seeks to co-ordinate the conservation efforts of shoots and focus them on those areas where they will be most effective, and gain the greatest recognition for shooting.
So, for instance, we have the region-wide project in the South West headed by Robin Marshall-Ball, to eliminate mink and create a barrier to prevent them spreading westward. The results have been spectacular. Water vole numbers have dramatically increased, and wildlife trusts working alongside us have realised how important shoots are for conservation.
But this isnâ€™t the only project. In North Wales and in Cheshire BASC has full-timeÂ biodiversity officersÂ who work with shoots, local and national conservation bodies, and local authorities to improve habitat and protect vulnerable species. As a result other conservationists realise that without the active support of the shooting community they can only achieve a fraction of their aims.
Through your support the Conservation Trust (Marford Mill) will make a huge impact â€“with a ten-times multiplier itâ€™s a chance we cannot afford to miss