Two farmers who have helped to protect some of Scotland’s rarest species
and habitats, including corncrakes and bats, have been rewarded through one
of Scotland’s top conservation awards, the NFU Scotland Farmland Biodiversity
Award, which is sponsored by RSPB Scotland.
Modern farming in Scotland has many demands placed upon it. Legislation
coming from the EU, UK or Scottish parliaments requires compliance with many
different environmental rules and regulations. In addition, the public and
consumers have certain expectations about how farmers should take care of
the environment and our wildlife. This is a public service that farming provides
for the nation and which continues to justify the expenditure of farm support.
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, presented both the winner and
runner-up of the NFUS Farmland Biodiversity Award with their prizes at the
NFUS AGM on Thursday 2 March at the St Andrews Bay Hotel.
Charles McAllister (Braehead Farm) - Charles farms 298 hectares on
the Isle of Arran, in partnership with his brother. He has created four ponds
and maintains existing habitats such as water margins, species rich grassland,
coastal heath and hedges to maximise food and shelter for wildlife. The farm
currently plays host to hen harriers, short-eared owls and a corncrake was
spotted on the farm in 2005, for the first time in 30 years.
Danny Miller (Bilbster Mains) - Danny farms almost 1300 hectares at
Wick in Caithness. The key achievement he cites since embarking on his work
towards biodiversity is the return of grey partridge to the farm, as well
as increasing numbers of brown hare and huge numbers of swallows and bats.
Danny plans to continue his efforts by creating more wildlife corridors and
increasing hedge planting.
RSPB Scotland Director Stuart Housden said:
“We would like to congratulate the winner and the runner-up for their
success in this important award, which we are delighted to sponsor. Agriculture
is the main force that shapes Scotland’s wildlife habitats and farming
that is done in sympathy with the needs of birds and biodiversity is essential
if we are to protect and enhance the countryside. The winner, Charles McAllister,
and the runner-up Danny Miller, have both shown that they are willing to
take that extra step by making big efforts to integrate conservation into
their overall agricultural activities. As well as running successful working
farms, both of them have managed to provide a haven for a rich variety of
wildlife - including priority species - and they deserve great praise for
their efforts. Well done to both of them.”
Charles McAllister, winner of the NFUS Farmland Biodiversity Award, said:
“It is a great honour to be accepting this award. I thoroughly enjoy
both the agricultural and conservation aspects of farming and so it is great
to win an award for doing what I enjoy. I must also thank my brother, with
whom I farm in partnership, as I wouldn’t have won this award without
his assistance. Over the years, we have done our best to combine sympathetic
farming with conservation and we take great delight in monitoring progress,
particularly when it comes to priority species, and seeing first hand how
the conservation work is providing benefit.
“Arran, as an island, has a great commitment to conservation and I’m
told that there is a particularly high uptake of agri-environment schemes
on the island, by farmers wishing to maintain the beautiful flora, fauna
and scenery that we are blessed with.”
NFU Scotland Farmland Biodiversity Award
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