CUMBRIAN sporting and conservation specialist Robert Benson has been elected as chairman of the Moorland Association.
He replaces Edward Bromet who has retired after nearly five years in the role and will now represent the owners of more than one million acres of moorland in England and Wales.
Mr Benson is self-employed and helps to look after several thousand acres of globally rare heather moorland in Cumbria and Scotland.
The estates he helps to manage are upland areas with interests ranging from sheep grazing to red grouse, drinking water and red deer.
A committee member of the Moorland Association since its formation in 1985, Mr Benson has served as the organisation’s representative for Cumbria and has also worked in County Durham.
He said: “I am committed to the future of our globally rare and treasured heather uplands.
“I believe passionately that integrated moorland management, with grouse shooting as the lynch pin, can produce the greatest level of benefits for wildlife, landscape and local economies.
“Everybody gains, from the clean water out of our taps, to the purple jewel in the crown of our upland National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
The association is working to regenerate 250,000 acres heather moorland to boost bird, plant and animal populations to help Britain reach its Biodiversity 2020 goals.
Mr Benson said: “As chairman, I will ensure best practice moorland management is thoroughly researched, understood and implemented and continue the excellent progress made to find the right solutions to complicated issues such as breeding hen harriers and the restoration of deep peat to active blanket bog.”