75% of heather moorland is found here in the UK. The North York Moors are perhaps best known for their glorious purple carpets and on Open Country Jules Hudson explores the past and the potential future of this rare habitat. Heather moorland relies on management. Created over centuries of sheep grazing and man management the blooms require regular burning to remain healthy and attractive to the varied wildlife that makes its home on the moors. Sometimes controversially this management is often only made possible with the finance brought in by grouse shooting.
As the slopes and bogs of Spaunton Moor come alive with the vivid colour of the heather the grouse are also reaching their prime. Today at places like Spaunton eight days of shooting allows the moor to be managed and preserved for both the grouse and many other species of birds and invertebrates all year round. The spectacle of purple is testament to the effective nature of management but can conservation and hunting really work in harmony?