Tuesday afternoon earlier this week saw a great walk & talk event at the Hopes Estate on the edge of the Lammermuirs. Hosted by Robbie Douglas Miller and organised by Scottish Land & Estates and Wildlife Estates Scotland, guests first heard from Robbie about the management of the Hopes and his keen interest in achieving WES accreditation. Outlining the land management work he and the team at the Hopes have focused on, Robbie also touched on some of the key public interest actions they have undertaken in recent years. He recognised that the political backdrop for landowners and managers was challenging but identified accreditation as a key response to demonstrate the range of public benefits that farms and estates can deliver.
Picking up on this theme, Ross Macleod from Wildlife Estates Scotland, provided the audience with a brief history of WES, its origins as a European initiative and the overlay of Scottish best practice guidance and legislation. He then described the key reasons why landowners and managers should consider accreditation, pointing out that this gives owners their own individual certification, provides evidence of due diligence and contributes information which is aggregated into the WES annual report. He provided examples from the annual report to indicate the range of information covered, including the condition of designated sites, species trends, investment in conservation activities, access-taking and employment on accredited properties. He then examined some of the factors that had been influential in the assessor’s award of accredited status to the Hopes, pointing to the planting of native woodland, juniper, peatland recovery and riparian management , alongside a significant array of bird and mammal species. Scottish Land & Estate Regional Manager, Rachael Wright, reminded guests about the importance of getting involved with WES and Scottish Land & Estates to ensure effective representation.
Walking out onto the edge of the Hopes Moorland, we were able to look at heather management, woodland planting, game cover crops and juniper recovery. This allowed for plenty of discussion with the Hopes management team, contributing to a very successful event. We are very grateful to Robbie, Ian and Julian for taking time out of their schedule to discuss their management and show us around the Hopes.