Hunting activities in Belgium contribute €394 million per annum to the national economy, according to a new study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The study is among the first of its kind, providing unique insights into the economic, social and conservation benefits brought by the hunting sector as a whole.
Commissioned at the initiative of the Belgian Delegation of CIC – joined by the Royal Saint-Hubert Club de Belgique (RSHCB), the Fédération des Chasseurs de Grand Gibier de Belgique (FCGGB) and Hubertus Vereniging Vlaanderen (HVV) – the study sought to explore and quantify the economic impact of hunting in Belgium, focusing specifically on spending by hunters and event organisers.
Among the other findings of note is that over €33 million per year would be required in public funding to replace the services provided by hunting, should a ban on the practice come into effect.
Traditionally, a lack of data has been the prohibitive factor in the publication of such studies in the past, both in Belgium and elsewhere.
To resolve this issue, a comprehensive data collection effort was taken in Belgium in order to assess the impact of hunting across numerous sectors. This was conducted through the distribution of surveys with the assistance of the four hunting associations: the CIC, RSHCB, FCGGB and HVV. The effort was largely coordinated through the use of Facebook groups, newsletters and via hunting councils.
Some 3,000 responses (out of a population of 25,000 hunters) were received, with surveys targeted towards three distinct groups: individuals, syndicates’ presidents and hunting councils. This high response ratio reached a very strong statistical reliability level, enabling PwC to use the survey’s figures and results.
While not the principal aim in carrying out this effort, PwC also found that hunting and sustainable use play an essential role in supporting ecosystems while underpinning significant social and cultural elements of society.
The findings from this study reaffirm suggestions that have been discussed for many years. That hunters provide valuable services to society, and that hunting as a whole provides numerous socio-economic benefits.
Looking ahead, the tools and methodologies used in this survey may serve as a useful guide when replicating similar efforts in other countries and regions.