Blending Farming with Habitat and Species Management

Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) accredited Greenlawdean Farm, located just to the north of Greenlaw village in Berwickshire, extends to 426 hectares of arable ground, woodland and pasture. Arable farming on Greenlawdean plays an important part in generating the income to facilitate habitat and species management.

The key game and wildlife management objectives on which Greenlawdean was originally accredited included:

• The provision of mixed woodland, cover crop and open ground habitat to maintain a suitable environment for a variety of bird and mammal species;
• The management of a conservation-based shoot, alternating between released and wild game bird management to ensure an extensive approach that respects habitat, avoids over-stocking and creates benefits for a wide range of mammal and bird species;
• Management of the local Roe Deer population to minimise damage to growing crops and trees whilst retaining their presence as an asset to the Farm;
• Ensuring that game and wildlife management is fully integrated with the farming enterprise.
The conservation work on Greenlawdean is focused chiefly on habitat management through woodland management, the cultivation of cover crops and 3/6-metre grass margins round arable fields.

The main areas of woodland comprise mainly Sitka and Norway Spruce, Larch and Scots Pine, with the edges of these blocks being planted up with mixed species including Birch, Oak, Rowan, Alder and shrubs. This overall mix benefits a wide range of bird, mammal species and insect species.
There is a substantial network of hedgerows around fields, made up of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Beech, Dog Rose and some fruiting bushes. Some of the hedges were first laid down over 150 years ago, whilst new hedges have been recently planted with SRDP funding support. These are vitally important as shelters, nesting sites and wildlife corridors, linking areas of woodland and habitat together. The grass margins are retained around arable fields, again providing wildlife corridors, cover, seed-heads and habitat for insects, birds and mammals. Arable stubbles are maintained well into the year following harvest, affording a further benefit to birds.
Based on this work and continuing good practice into the future, Greenlawdean has recently been successful in securing funding under the Agri-Environment Climate (AECS) Scheme, which will help to maintain environmental stewardship well into the future. Further, Greenlawdean was highly commended under the Quality Woodlands category awarded by Scotland’s Finest Woods at the Royal Highland Show in June of 2016.
Close to the village of Greenlaw, the farm has a number of tracks that the local community is encouraged to use. Open days are held on the farm, with particular emphasis on support for disabled children. Owners Peter and Jenny Leggate are dedicated supporters of Riding for the Disabled, with regular events held on Greenlawdean. They have now gone further and combined education with conservation by organising the construction and installation of bird boxes on the farm in conjunction with Greenlaw Primary School. This has proved very popular with the children and looks set to keep them coming back to check on progress!

Ross Macleod of Wildlife Estates Scotland said: “The original award to Peter, Jenny and the team at Greenlawdean was thoroughly deserved in recognition of the outstanding work they carried out to balance the needs of a working farm with fantastic efforts on forestry, wildlife, habitat conservation, sporting management and community engagement. That they have continued to focus on best practice with a successful application to the AECS scheme, their award for managing sustainable woodland and using the farm as a platform to demonstrate practical conservation to the pupils at their local primary school show that Jenny and Peter have not rested on their WES accreditation laurels.”