HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has collected a coveted award on behalf of Balmoral Estate to recognise the estate’s exceptional work on game and wildlife management.
Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation is an internationally recognised award given to farms and estates that have demonstrated a standard of excellence in land management.
In order to gain accreditation, estates have to apply and then adhere to a rigorous set of standards that encourages wildlife conservation and biodiversity through careful species and habitat management.
Balmoral is now one of over 20 farms and estates to have achieved accreditation in Scotland. Traditionally managed for red deer stalking, grouse shooting and salmon fishing, the Estate also contains important SPA and SAC designations which form a key part and responsibility of overall management. The assessors noted Balmoral’s very specific attention to monitoring and implementation of best practice.
The WES initiative was developed from a European Union scheme to drive forward higher standards of conservation and environmental stewardship. WES was championed by Scottish Land & Estates with support from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Development has also been supported by the Scottish Government, and is closely aligned with its ongoing Land Use Strategy.
Richard Gledson, Balmoral’s resident factor, said: “We are delighted that the Estate has been awarded WES accreditation. It marks the culmination of a long process to ensure Balmoral meets the high standards of the scheme and I am very pleased on behalf of everyone on the Estate who has worked hard to apply best practice in game and wildlife conservation.
“That process will continue apace with the full support of the Royal Family, who are thrilled by this award. We look forward to working with Wildlife Estates Scotland to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to accreditation and hope we can play our part in promoting the objectives of the scheme to other estates across the country.”
Robbie Douglas Miller, chairman of WES, said: “The Wildlife Estates Scotland project has been going from strength to strength since its inception four years ago and we are delighted that Balmoral has now been awarded accreditation.
“As with all the accredited estates, Balmoral has shown an outstanding commitment to the requirements of WES. This has happened because landowners genuinely want to play their part in helping our game and wildlife to flourish in well managed habitat. There is much to be proud of in this initiative and we look forward to Balmoral’s example providing further impetus for more and more estates to become involved in the WES project.”
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said:“The commitment shown by estates involved in the Wildlife Estates Scotland project demonstrates the desire of Scottish Land & Estates’ members to take account of the best interests of biodiversity whilst they work hard to create a thriving rural economy.
“Estates are independently assessed under the WES scheme and accreditation demonstrates that conservation, biodiversity, and good game management practices are at the centre of their long-term strategy. Balmoral has been doing a fantastic job in all of these respects and these efforts help to sustain a natural environment to be proud of”.