The application for Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) accreditation was complex, with six agricultural tenants, a small commercial shoot, salmon and seatrout fishing on the North Esk, residential tenancies and a renewables interest all coming into play during the application process.
However the owner, Hughie Campbell Adamson, thinks that accreditation is worth it. For him, Wildlife Estates Scotland is not really about the financial benefits — for the moment at least. “It’s about disciplined methods and proper planning,” he says. “It sharpens the mind to the fact that land used for sport comes with responsibilities as well as great rewards”. Stracathro joined the Wildlife Estates Scotland Scheme in late 2010, having decided that it was the best way to show his estate’s dedication to best practice and good sustainable land management.
Game and wildlife management are secondary to agriculture at Stracathro, however the work done for conservation would suggest otherwise. Classic Scottish partridge country, Stracathro’s work to enhance the seven miles of Victorian beech hedging with contiguous wild bird cover is paying dividends, with an increase in Grey Partridge numbers and more challenging sport over the ten days shooting held per year for their Red-Leg cousins.
The team at Stracathro has found the wildlife surveying and monitoring aspects of Wildlife Estates accreditation particularly rewarding, and sees it as the perfect way to monitor species change across the farm. By both the game management and agricultural team working together, monitoring has become an important part of the estate’s attitude to planning both farming and shooting activities.
Balancing a viable rural business with sustainable land management is no easy task in modern Scotland, and with increasing political pressure at every turn, there can be no doubt that Stracathro sees strength in numbers, supported by its membership of Wildlife Estates Scotland, as well as LEAF and Quality Meats Scotland.