Four Scottish landholdings gain prestigious wildlife conservation accreditation

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Press Release

Four Scottish landholdings have gained prestigious international accreditation to recognise their ongoing work in wildlife management and conservation.

Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) is a national version of the European Landowners Organisation’s Wildlife Estates (WE) accreditation scheme and is driving forward best practice in land management throughout Scotland’s farms, estates and other rural landholdings.

At the Scottish Game Fair this weekend, awards were presented at a members' reception sponsored by property consultancy Bell Ingram. The properties receiving accreditation were:

  • Glenquaich (nr Aberfeldy, Perthshire)

A landholding of more than 2,500 hectares of mixed habitat including upland moorland, rivers, lochs, woodlands and pasture. Interests include arable, livestock, sporting, renewables and tourism. Glenquaich is home to some of the rarest birds in the country. Over past 15 years, Glenquaich has participated in an annual bird survey and in 2017, 111 bird species were recorded.

  • Allargue (Corgarff, Strathdon)

Originally accredited in 2013, this 2,300 hectare estate in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park has undergone reassessment following significant changes in land management. There has been significant woodland restructuring, including the removal of old spruce, which has been replaced by a mixture of natural regeneration and native species planting. This has been critical in opening up corridors between the lowland and the upland which has benefited multiple species but particularly black grouse.

  • Threepwood (Blainslie, Galashiels)

Originally accredited in 2014, the 425ha landholding farm won The Nature of Farming Award for Scotland in 2010 and in 2013 it was Highly Commended in the Purdey Award for Game and Conservation. Owner Colin Strang Steel heavily involved with Soil Association, Working for Waders and the Nature Friendly Farming Network. Over the past five years, Threepwood has enjoyed a significant boost in the number of brambling birds on its land.

  • The Hopes (Gifford, East Lothian)

Originally accredited in 2013, The Hopes comprises 4,200 hectares of land, primarily open hill and moorland. Over the past five years the estate has been heavily involved in significant peatland restoration and woodland creation. In 2016, Hopes won the Golden Plover award which celebrates the best of integrated, sustainable upland management.

Since being developed by Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), with support from SNH, more than 1.26 million acres of land in Scotland has qualified for WES certification. In Europe, Scotland sits second in the league table of wildlife estates accredited land, with only Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres.

WES aims to double the total accredited land to 2.5 million acres by 2023.

The recently accredited estates have all have undergone a rigorous independent assessment of their game, wildlife and habitat management, as well as their social and economic contribution to rural life. All properties are expected to maintain these standards throughout the lifetime of accreditation, with WES creating a transparent benchmark system which demonstrates what, and how, land managers can deliver multiple benefits to rural Scotland, supporting the Scottish Government’s Land Use and Biodiversity 2020 route map strategies.

Dee Ward, vice-chairman of operations, Wildlife Estates Scotland, said: “Landholdings across Scotland are undertaking vital conservation work that goes above and beyond what would be expected of them. This usually comes at significant cost to the business but more often than not, land managers see their role as custodians of their local habitat and want to help a rich array of wildlife to flourish.

“The Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation scheme is a rigorous process that asks these properties to demonstrate that they are meeting the finest standards across wildlife and conservation management and it is pleasing that another four landholdings have met this benchmark. We seek a broad range of information from estates, including data on 70 key species, which helps to provide significant insight on what is working well and where our conservation efforts need to be targeted.

“Glenquaich, Allargue, Threepwood and The Hopes are all diverse in how their land is managed but they have a common goal to play their part in Scotland’s conservation efforts. It is only right that their efforts are recognised through WES accreditation.”

WES was developed in Scotland by rural business organisation Scottish Land & Estates and the scheme’s new Advisory Board and Technical Committee has a broad spectrum of representation from organisations including SNH, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, RSPB, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust as well as the Scottish Government.