Deeside landholdings gain prestigious wildlife conservation accreditation

Balmoral Estate and Candacraig Estate, Strathdon are among the seven Scottish farms and estates that have been awarded prestigious international accreditation to recognise their ongoing work in wildlife management and conservation.

The award of Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) accreditation was made at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair, with Màiri McAllan MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Environment and Land Reform, presenting the accolades.

WES is a national version of the international Wildlife Estates (WE) initiative and is endorsed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment, whose objective is to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations.

Just over a decade since WES was established, Scotland currently sits second in the league table of Wildlife Estates accredited land on 1.25 million acres, with only Spain ahead on approximately 1.6 million acres.

Michael Bennet (centre) Headkeeper of Balmoral Estate with Mairi McAllan MSP and Dee Ward Chair Wildlife Estates Scotland. (Pic: Graeme Hart)

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Environment and Land Reform Minister Màiri McAllan said: “These new accreditations are well-earned and well deserved – they demonstrate commitment to delivering environmental, economic and social benefits to rural communities including increasing biodiversity, providing healthy food products such as venison and bringing Scotland’s people closer to our beautiful natural environment.”

Dee Ward, chair of Wildlife Estates Scotland, added: “WES accreditation is a meticulous process that asks those in charge of managing land to strive for the highest standards of wildlife and conservation management.

“These farms and estates are undertaking exceptionally important work, benefiting our environment and biodiversity. It is pleasing that this work, often undertaken at significant cost to businesses, can be publicly acknowledged through WES.

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Robin Leslie Melville and Leslie George (centre) of the Candacraig Estate with Mairi McAllan MSP and Dee Ward. (Pic: Graeme Hart)

“The accredited properties are diverse, both in location and the sectors they are involved in. However, they have all demonstrated a common approach to best practice and provide 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 collective conservation efforts need to be targeted.”