The Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) Initiative aims to introduce an objective and transparent system encouraging best practice and demonstrating how game and wildlife management undertaken by Scottish landowners, in line with the principles of biodiversity conservation, can deliver multiple benefits for society and rural communities.
The WES Initiative was launched in November 2010, and was developed by Scottish Land & Estates with advice 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. These organisations formed the core of the Project Steering Group between 2010 and 2012.
The key aims of WES, in line with principles of the EU Wildlife Estates (WE) label, are to:
Promote best practice in game and wildlife management to maintain high standards across all those involved
Build robust information on various species and their habitats, wildlife management, conservation projects and integration with other land uses to monitor activity and ensure continuous improvement
Use the information derived from WES to engage public and private stakeholders in encouraging best practice management for further maintenance of Scotland’s natural biodiversity
The WES initiative was tested with different estates in two pilot phases between 2011 and 2012. The first pilot phase, carried out in the Cairngorm National Park Area, sought to determine if the draft application form and the evaluation process were fit for purpose. Site visits were carried out and reviews undertaken with Estates. Following completion in September 2011, the Steering Group met to consider the applications and scoring.
A workshop was then held in December 2011 to review the results, go through the WES application process and obtain feedback from Estates.
The Steering Group made amendments to the application form and evaluation process, which was further tested in the second pilot phase, and again reviewed. Pilot estates were approached once more to test out updated sections.
Alongside the application form design, SFQC were asked to review the pilot applications and comment on assessment issues. From scheme roll-out, SFQC will further underpin the assessment with site visits to each applicant.
Work was also undertaken to establish a business plan. This acknowledged the need to find additional funding support to carry the initiative through to a point a self-sustaining position. Following discussion with SNH, financial support was agreed in return for information reporting and evidence of progress towards biodiversity gains. The funding package is subject to regular review as to sound financial and business management of the scheme.
The project reached a watershed in February 2013 with the launch of accreditation. This was marked by an event, which was attended by the Minister for Environment & Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, and the Chairman of SNH, Andrew Thin. It represents the next stage in development of the project, moving to full roll-out following the two pilot phases of 2011 & 2012.
You can download a copy of the Concept Briefing Paper, the Wildlife Estates Commitments, the WES membership form and an example of the WES Accreditation application form below.
To sign up to Wildlife Estates Scotland download application form or contact Ross Macleod on 07773898625 or
For news updates, you can visit www.wildlife-estates.co.uk