A CAMPAIGN to bring “significant reform” to Scotland’s grouse moors is being launched by TV presenter Chris Packham.

Social, environmental and animal welfare charities have joined forces to press for changes on the moors, with less emphasis on land management policies designed to promote numbers of red grouse.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association claimed the coalition is a “wrecking-ball campaign by a cohort seeking to ban grouse shooting and put thousands of Scotland’s rural workers and their families on the dole”.

Campaigners claim the moors, which make up almost one-fifth of Scotland’s land mass, are managed intensively to create a habitat suitable for that species, which they say is “effectively farmed to be shot for entertainment”. They claim techniques including heather burning, rigorous predator control, mountain hare persecution and the construction of roads and tracks are used to ensure estates yield large numbers of the birds to increase bag sizes at commercial shoots.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the Revive Coalition – which includes Friends of the Earth Scotland, the League Against Cruel Sports, animal charity OneKind and the Common Weal think tank – Packham said: “There is no doubt we all deserve and need better uplands, a prosperous place for wildlife and people – and that is far from impossible.

“But making that turn will need a suite of skills and energies. Dead, burned and barren has to go – Scotland’s hills should be alive.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman, an adviser to the coalition, said: “It is time for a fundamental shift away from this damaging land use to more sustainable alternatives.”

Revive senior campaigner Max Wiszniewski added: “We are under no illusion that this will be a short campaign, but we have laid the foundations to take the first steps towards reform.

“This is the first time organisations have come together in this way and our partners did so with no hesitation. It’s time we took back ownership of Scotland’s uplands and make our vision of reform a reality.”

Countryside organisations appealed for the Scottish Government-led review into grouse moor management to be allowed to take its course. It is expected to report its conclusions by spring next year.

Groups including the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, Scottish Countryside Alliance, Scottish Land & Estates and Scottish Association of Country Sports said in a joint statement: “We are witnessing another attempt by anti-grouse shooting activists to further their agenda under the guise of calling for reform of grouse shooting.”