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Stackyard News Feb 05

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Biodiversity Advocates Recognised by NFUS & RSPB Scotland

The finalists for the 2005 NFU Scotland Biodiversity Award, sponsored by RSPB Scotland, have been announced. Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell will announce the winner and runner-up and present the prizes at the NFUS AGM on Thursday 24 February in St Andrews.

The judging panel, made up of RSPB Scotland and NFUS representatives, short-listed five finalists all of whom represented superb examples of how Scottish farmers are placing more effort into benefiting priority species and habitats.

The finalists are as follows:

Hugh Broad runs a 217 hectare arable farm in Gifford, East Lothian. Hugh has participated in many SEERAD Agri-Environment schemes, has become a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) demonstration farm and also a demonstration farm for the East Lothian Grey Partridge Project. These activities have transformed the farm to the benefit of local wildlife. The farm is a good example of the benefits of pond and wetland creation, tree and hedge planting, grass margins and species rich grassland.

Lord David Kennedy runs Morriston Farms, which cover 1215 hectares near Maybole. Over the last 10 years, Lord David has created such things as 50 miles of mixed species hedge, 8 ponds and associated wetlands, barn owl boxes etc. Lord David also hosts many farm walks, training days and promotes access throughout the estate. In addition, he offers advice to neighbours on the benefits of conservation and how a symbiotic relationship can be created between intensive agriculture and estate management.

Shaun McDonald runs Conan Brae Farms near Dingwall with his brother. Since 1999 he has created hedges, dykes, wetland, forestry and beetlebanks and the farms play host to Golden Eagles and Red Kites, among other birds. Shaun has also restored part of the River Carron, which stocks grilse and salmon and provides fishing for the public in addition to river walks. Shaun endeavours to maximise habitat improvement throughout the farms.

Roger Polson lives and works at Knock, Near Huntly. His farm is a 432 hectare mixed farm with a detailed conservation plan drawn up in 1992. Over the last 10 years, Roger has created, among other things, 3.5 kilometres of mixed native hedges, mixed species woodland, two wetlands, a large pond and has also discovered and protected two archaeological sites including a small bronze age stone circle. Roger intends to continue developing walking tracks and to develop a further pond.

William Steel farms a 210 hectare primarily livestock farm near Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. William began changing the farm to more environmentally sustainable methods in 1998 and is involved in a number of environmental schemes. William has created a mosaic of habitats, aimed at encouraging new and existing wildlife, which integrate with and complement his core business of organic livestock production. William aims to introduce further improvements to bring more benefits to habitats and wildlife.

NFUS President John Kinnaird said:

"The Biodiversity Award has again attracted high quality entries this year which goes to show that farmers can demonstrate that they are becoming more and more aware of how they can positively influence species and habitats whilst at the same time maintaining a successful, commercial enterprise.

"I was very pleased with the standard of applications and look forward to meeting the winner and runner-up. I should also like to thank RSPB Scotland for sponsoring the awards again this year."

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National Farmers' Union
NFU Scotland

RSPB Scotland
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - Scotland