The Cranborne Chase AONB has been an area partly devoted to the management of game for hunting for over a thousand years. In times gone by it was mainly red deer, roe deer and wild boar, then fallow deer and now it is pheasants, partridges and trout.
There are about 35 – 40 million game birds released into the UK countryside each year. About 500,000 of these are released into the Cranborne Chase AONB. This is one of the most intensively managed game landscapes in the world. 1.5% of the yearly release in the UK goes into just 0.4% of the area, which is about three times more than might be expected.
Much of this is a fairly innocuous activity that has little effect on landscape character. We know, from research we have carried out ourselves, that it does have significant positive socio-economic and ecological impact. We are also aware that the intensive release of game birds has the potential to do harm and in some cases causes actual damage to the environment and biodiversity, while it also has the potential to support positive management and, on most farms in the AONB, is the driver for a great deal of habitat management and creation.
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