What is this new partnership?

Eight organisations, with GWCT as the scientific advisor, are working closely to protect and promote sustainable shooting, biodiversity and the rural community. With just one per cent of the UK population still working on the land, the important contribution game shooting makes needs to be shared more than ever. Aim to Sustain plans to help ensure that happens.

What is its goal?

Aim to Sustain seeks a game shooting sector which sustains communities and landscapes, addresses environmental challenges, delivers economic and social benefits, holds itself to the highest standards and is understood as a responsible and beneficial guardian of the countryside.

How will it achieve all this?

The partnership will focus on three things:

  • advocacy
  • science and research
  • self-regulation

Will it work on any other issues?

Yes. It may tackle other issues on which collaboration and coordination between organisations can be effective in promoting and protecting sustainable shooting.

Okay, but what do you mean by advocacy?

This is the vital work of communicating the benefits of game shooting to both government and the public. This is increasingly important in a world where misinformation proliferates. As a diverse partnership, Aim to Sustain is uniquely positioned to present these benefits and fight for decisions to be based on evidence rather than mere sentiment.

What is the definition of sustainable shooting?

Sustainable shooting respects quarry species and seeks to conserve and improve the environment. It avoids excessive consumption, complies with the law, improves the health and well-being of participants and provides food and economic benefits to the wider community.

Why is ‘shooting’ not in the name of the new partnership?

The partnership is committed to promoting not only sustainable game shooting but a range of other factors such as biodiversity and the contribution it makes to the rural community. To ensure the partnership can best communicate the breadth of this work it took professional advice and tested various names within the sporting community and the wider public. That advice has been adopted in full.

What science and research is needed?

Environmental research will underpin Aim to Sustain’s work – from setting standards for self-regulation to the promotion of sustainable game shooting. Filling evidence gaps on the environmental impact of releasing gamebirds, quantifying the environmental gain from game management at scale, and monitoring impacts at shoot level will be fundamental to all of Aim to Sustain’s work.

Sustainable shooting can be crucial to some rural communities and promoting these wider benefits will also help shape attitudes. Aim to Sustain will deliver new and expanded social and economic research to illustrate the full value of shooting to rural communities and the rural economy on a national and regional level.

What about self-regulation?

This has many layers and Aim to Sustain wants to see responsible people shooting on assured premises managed by fit and proper people. Over the coming months we will be consulting on how to further develop self-regulation in game shooting, but the fundamentals are already in place. Underpinned by the Code of Good Shooting Practice, organisations such as BASC, NGO and GWCT offer a suite of qualifications for individual participants in our sector, and we will be actively encouraging all keepered shoots to register for the appropriate level of BGA assurance.

Does the sporting community take animal welfare very seriously?

Yes. Animal welfare is one of the foundations that existing shooting codes of practice are built upon. These include the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes (with country-specific versions available for Wales and Scotland, respectively) and the Code of Good Shooting Practice. With politicians at Westminster and the devolved administrations considering revisions to animal welfare legislation, Aim to Sustain recognises the importance of leading on animal welfare.

Why is this partnership happening now?

During the last couple of years, the organisations have probably worked closer than at any other time in their history. With the general licence upheaval in 2019, it  rapidly became obvious that combining the expertise of the different organisations could be a real strength on key issues. Working hand-in-hand to great effect on the Covid-19 exemption for shooting, judicial reviews and recent legal challenges has achieved tangible success. The organisations have come together in other areas such as raptor persecution and calling for a voluntary transition to sustainable ammunition.

So, the unity provided by the formation of Aim to Sustain is a natural progression?

Yes. That is exactly what this partnership is about. It allows the organisations to horizon-scan and seize opportunities, whilst monitoring emerging challenges.

Okay, but why bother going to the effort of having an outward-facing partnership?

We have seen how much can be achieved behind the scenes, but we have also seen limitations of working that way. This is particularly clear when it comes to politics. Occasionally, there needs to be one voice speaking on behalf of all the organisations that have an interest in game shooting. An outward facing partnership provides the mechanism for this to happen.

What is different as a result of all this?

For the first time, all the major rural organisations with an interest in shooting have come together to drive action on standards, produce the most credible research and deliver the most effective public engagement for game shooting. They will do this by combining expertise, coordinating activities and bringing the shooting community together. Each organisation will retain its unique voice, but being agile in combining expertise on key issues will show leadership to the wider sector.

What is the call to action?

All involved in game shooting should ensure that their activity is carried out to the highest standards of safety, wildlife management and animal health and welfare.

  • Get your shoot assured
  • Get yourself accredited
  • Respond to the consultation

Which organisations are involved in this partnership?

The Countryside Alliance, British Association for Shooting & Conservation, British Game Assurance, Country Land & Business Association, Scottish Land & Estates, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the Game Farmers’ Association. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust are scientific advisors.

Should all the organisations just merge?

No. While all the organisations in Aim to Sustain have an interest in shooting, not all of them are shooting organisations. The partnership creates a much broader alliance than would be possible by merging shooting organisations alone.

This also enables the organisations to work efficiently without unnecessary overlap and competition. Aim to Sustain will allow the existing organisations to share expertise while retaining their own voice and identity.

Okay, but the organisations already coordinate don’t they?

Yes they do. In some respects, this partnership is giving a public face to a committee that has worked in the background for shooting for many years – the Shoot Liaison Committee (SLC). This has previously helped protect shooting from punitive legislation and orchestrated initiatives that have successfully grown the shooting community. Formalising that joint working into a partnership is simply a way to promote game shooting more effectively and efficiently. The time is now right to raise the SLC’s profile for the benefit of shooting and to present a united front.

Do I get a say in how the partnership might achieve its aims?

Yes. While the signatory organisations are already fully committed to the successful launch of Aim to Sustain, we want your input. Its new social media channels and website provide links to a 10-week ‘Have Your Say’ consultation. This is your chance to help set the direction of shooting’s future.

Do I have to pay and join the partnership?

No. This is an umbrella partnership for those organisations with an interest in sustainable game shooting. Continuing to pay your membership to your current organisation(s) will indirectly support Aim to Sustain.

So, who is funding Aim to Sustain?

The work will mostly be carried out by its member organisations. Additional projects may be funded by separate and standalone fundraising to support identified priorities. Aim to Sustain will not result in higher membership fees or additional costs for those who shoot.

Is this just for gamebird shooting?

Aim to Sustain has been established to collectively represent gamebird shooting, which includes both released and wild bird shoots. Each of the organisations involved in Aim to Sustain have their own diverse range of expertise, but all share a common interest in game shooting. Aim to Sustain does not cover other areas of shooting, such as wildfowling, deer management and pest control.

Why aren’t there more high-profile people from outside the membership organisations involved?

Aim to Sustain has just been launched and the Board will now be looking for Chairs for its key committees covering standards, research, and politics and engagement as well as ambassadors to help communicate its message.

Do you have members and who do you represent?

Aim to Sustain is not another membership organisation, it is a partnership of organisations with an interest in shooting.

Who is in charge?

All decisions taken by Aim to Sustain will be made by consensus. It is important that each organisation has an equal standing within the partnership, regardless of the size of its membership. To begin with Aim to Sustain will be jointly chaired by the Chairs of the British Association for Shooting & Conservation and the Countryside Alliance. During the first year, the Board will carry out a review and can appoint an independent Chair or one from one of the member organisations.

Why is the GWCT an advisor to Aim to Sustain rather than a member?

The organisations within the partnership are there to lobby on behalf of their members. The GWCT is a little different. It is a charity which acts in the interests of the public. It can, however, advise the membership organisations and has been involved in the creation of the partnership.