Wildlife management award for Ayrshire’s Cassillis Estate

David Johnstone Chairman of Scottish Land and Estates (left) presents the WES award to the Marquess of Ailsa, Cassillis Estate
David Johnstone Chairman of Scottish Land and Estates (left) presents the WES award to the Marquess of Ailsa, Cassillis Estate

Cassillis Estate in Ayrshire is one of eight Scottish farms and estates to 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 Scottish Game Fair, held at Scone Palace, and takes the total amount of accredited land over the one million acre mark.

WES is a national version of the EU 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.

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 that helps to demonstrate how land managers can deliver multiple benefits to rural Scotland, supporting the Scottish Government’s Land Use and Biodiversity 2020 route map Strategies.

The total number of accredited farms and estates across Scotland now stands at 52, with best practice management covering just over 1.2 million acres.

Scottish Land & Estates Chairman, David Johnstone, said: “Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation is a rigorous process that asks estates and farms to meet the finest standards across wildlife and conservation management and it is pleasing that another eight estates and farms have met this benchmark.

“The newly-accredited properties are very diverse in nature but they have all demonstrated the excellent work they are conducting on issues such as species and habitat management.

“We seek a broad range of information from estates, including data on 70 birds and animals, which helps to provide significant insight on what is working well and where our conservation efforts need to be targeted.”

“The new accreditations takes the total of WES accredited land past the one million acre mark, a significant achievement with 52 farms and estates now qualified since the first award was made in 2013. Whilst challenges lie ahead for the future of the Wildlife Estates Scotland project, we should be proud that we have reached this important milestone in the scheme.”

WES was founded by Scottish Land & Estates with support from Scottish Natural Heritage, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. It has been supported from the beginning by the Scottish Government.