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Wildlife Estates pilot locations unveiled

30th March 2011

Three Scottish estates in the Cairngorms National Park were today (Tuesday) named as the first to pilot the pioneering Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) initiative.

The initiative was developed by SRPBA and SEBG and offers estates and landowners the opportunity to sign up to voluntary commitments on conservation of habitat and wildlife, delivered through sustainable sporting management. Scottish Natural Heritage, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Cairngorms National Park Authority have played a supporting role in developing the scheme. More than 200 estates have already signed up.

Atholl Estates, in Perthshire, the Allargue Estate on Donside and the RSPB-owned Abernethy Estate, all within the Cairngorms National Park, will be the first to take forward the Wildlife Estates initiative. Further pilot estates will be announced soon.

The announcement of the pilot estates was made at Battleby near Perth, where organisations involved in the Wildlife Estates Scotland initiative gathered to take part in a workshop and seminar.

The Scottish Government, SNH and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), who helped launch WES back in November, were also represented at today’s event.

WES Chairman Robbie Douglas-Miller commented: “I am very encouraged to see these three estates come forward to lead the WES pilot in the Cairngorms National Park. They are prime exemplars of the way rural Scotland is providing some of the best country sporting in the world, and thereby delivering jobs and economic investment, against a backdrop of iconic and valued landscapes with stunning wildlife. We hope, based on the results of the pilot project, that an effective accreditation scheme will be developed allowing WES to then be rolled out across the rest of Scotland. It is now vital that as many estates in Scotland as possible join this scheme which is a key benchmark in land management best practice.”

David Green, Convener of the CNPA board, commented: “There is a delicate balance to be struck to ensure rural businesses can thrive while also conserving our special landscapes for present and future generations – at the Cairngorms National Park Authority we face this challenge on a daily basis. By signing up to WES, landowners are taking responsibility for protecting wildlife and biodiversity and we are glad that estates within the Cairngorms National Park, with its range of wildlife and business interests, are playing host to this initial phase of the programme.”

David Greer, Head of Rural Enterprises at Atholl Estates, commented: “This initiative is an excellent opportunity for landowners and estates to demonstrate the contribution they make in terms of looking after and managing Scotland’s tremendous countryside. It is something that has great potential and we look forward to getting widespread support from estates across Scotland”.

The RSPB’s Pete Mayhew, representing the Abernethy Estate which includes Loch Garten nature reserve commented: “We are delighted to have the Abernethy Estate included as one of the first areas within the National Park piloting WES. We look forward to following through with our WES commitments and helping the SRPBA and SEBG demonstrate estates can and do have a successful and harmonious relationship with wildlife and conservation aspirations”.