In May 2016 the NRW Board directed that a formal review should be undertaken into the use of firearms on land that we manage. The terms of the reference for the Review took into account NRW’s purpose, the principles and objectives of SMNR, and the delivery of the Well-Being of Future Generations Act’s Goals.
At the July 2018 Board meeting all evidence-based recommendations of the review were agreed, including the recommendation that NRW will continue to consider the leasing of rights for pheasant shooting, wildfowling and other pursuits involving firearms on a case-by-case basis.
On the 9th July 2018, NRW received a letter from Hannah Blythyn AM, Minister for Environment, stating that Welsh Government does not support pheasant shooting, the breeding of gamebirds, or the birds being kept in holding pens, on the Welsh Government Estate. This clear statement prompted the need to also consider the position of Welsh Government, as the landowner.
At the September Board meeting NRW Board Members agreed therefore that NRW will:
- Stop leasing of pheasant shooting rights on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate (WGWE) with effect from March 2019, when the current leases expire. NRW will not offer any extension to existing leases
- Consider requests for permissions to drive birds from the WGWE, provided that activity does not involve flushing pheasants over guns from the WGWE
- Review the leasing of wildfowl shooting rights when the potential impacts on conservation species are known. This is pending the work being undertaken by NRW’s ornithologists on the impact of wildfowling on rare bird species
- Continue to consider applications for permission to carry out control of wild species, impacting on neighbouring land management objectives, using firearms on the land we manage
The Board agreed that NRW would consider applications for permission to carry out control of wild species using firearms on the land it manages, and that applications for firearms use for other pursuits such as clay pigeon/ target shooting would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Dr Madeleine Havard, NRW’s Acting Chair said:
As a land manager we take an evidence based approach to all our activities, and sustainable management of natural resources is our core purpose. That is how we carried out this review. However in making our final decisions, the Board of course had to take into account the Welsh Government’s position as the landowner of the estate we manage.