Estates vow to continue wildlife scheme

SCOTTISH estates have vowed to continue expanding an international wildlife and habitat accreditation scheme beyond the UK’s European Union (EU) transition.

Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES), which builds information on species and land use to improve Scotland’s biodiversity, is based on a European scheme used in 19 countries.

WES is celebrating its tenth birthday this month and Scotland currently sits second in its league table of accredited land, with only Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres.

WES aims to double Scotland’s accredited land to 2.5 million acres by 2023.

Robbie Douglas-Miller, who owns The Hopes Estate in East Lothian, has been involved in WES since its inception and believes the scheme is more vital than ever in helping Scotland’s wildlife to flourish.

Accredited in 2013, The Hopes covers 4,200 acres of open hill and moorland.

Over the past five years, the estate has restored peatland and planted tres.

In 2016, The Hopes won the Golden Plover Award at the Scottish Game Fair, celebrating its sustainable upland management.

Douglas-Miller said: “An accreditation scheme such as WES has never been so valuable, given the loss of wildlife and habitat that we are seeing across the world.

“We are celebrating 10 years of WES and, during that time, it has helped farms and estates take account of the effect their work has on wildlife.

“All too often, we see farming, forestry or county sports labelled good or bad with regards to wildlife – the reality is far more complicated and each can produce great outcomes through sharing knowledge via a scheme such as WES.”

He added: “Wildlife Estates is a European concept and it enjoys close cooperation with EU institutions.

“Over the past decade, WES has been built into a Scottish success story and the scheme will continue to reflect on the latest environmental developments from Europe as we work to increase the amount of land that is accredited.”

Sixty five farms and estates have now reached WES’s level two accreditation.

The scheme was launched by trade body Scottish Land & Estates.

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