Islay estate joins Scotland’s bid to have best managed land in Europe

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Two estates in Islay and Crianlarich have won an international award that aims to make Scotland’s wildlife the best managed in Europe.

Ardtalla Estate on Islay, and Glenfalloch Estate near Crianlarich, were among 15 in Scotland to receive Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation, which, every five years, recognises estates’ ongoing work in wildlife management and conservation.

The 15 winners were presented with their awards by HRH The Princess Royal and Dr Mike Cantlay OBE, chairman of Scotland’s nature agency NatureScot, at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace near Perth.

Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES), which builds information on species and land use in order to improve Scotland’s biodiversity, is based on the EU Wildlife Estates initiative.

The European scheme, implemented in 19 countries, aims ‘to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations’.

Wildlife Estates Scotland, which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, vowed to continue beyond the UK’s exit from the EU, and has an ambitious plan to lead the Continent.

Scotland is second in the league table of Wildlife Estates accredited land on 1.25 million acres, with Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres.

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

Dee Ward, chair of Wildlife Estates Scotland, said it was vital that landowners’ role as guardians of the environment was encouraged and promoted.

Scotland has a biodiversity intactness index rating of just 56 per cent – the best rated nation in the UK, but still far behind Canada on 89 per cent and Germany on 67 per cent. It is estimated that Scotland is home to 90,000 animal, plant and microbe species.

‘The twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss are very present in Scotland.

‘Landholdings are already undertaking vital conservation work that goes above and beyond what many would expect but we should always be looking to do more.

‘Environmental work often comes at significant financial cost to businesses but land managers see their role as custodians of their local habitat and want to help a rich array of wildlife to flourish.

‘These farms and estates are undertaking exceptionally important work that benefits biodiversity and the environment, and it is only right that their efforts are publicly recognised through Wildlife Estates Scotland.

‘We seek a broad range of information, including species data and conservation projects, which helps to provide significant insight on what is working well and where our conservation efforts need to be targeted.’

Dr Mike Cantlay OBE, chair of NatureScot, said: ‘By attaining WES accreditation, these estates have reached a gold standard in their long-term commitment to helping Scotland’s nature thrive.

‘Initiatives like WES, which gather the knowledge and expertise of people who work Scotland’s countryside, are a crucially important way to increase the resilience of Scotland’s land, as we work together to tackle the twin biodiversity and climate change crises.’

Sixty-five farms and estates have now reached the scheme’s ‘gold standard’ level 2 accreditation.

 

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Caption: WES Accreditation Award presented to Glenfalloch Estate. Pictured from left, Dee Ward of Scottish Land and Estates, David Lowes, managing partner of Glenfalloch Estate, and Dr Mike Cantlay of NatureScot.