The Golden Plover Award for moorland management has returned for 2014 with three excellent candidates from across Scotland. The Award is presented annually by the Heather Trust and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (Scotland) in order to promote the very best in sustainable moorland management. Focussed as much on peatland conservation, upland waders and rural employment as it is on grouse production or farming interests, the Award celebrates integrated land use for multiple benefits, from the largest estate to the smallest syndicate.
In 2014, the three candidates are Loch Choire Estate, Gannochy and Finzean. These properties represent very different sides of the “Scottish estate” story, from the wilds of Sutherland to the Angus Glens.
Loch Choire Estate lies in Sutherland, stretching from the headwaters of the River Helmsdale on its eastern boundary to Ben Klibreck at the western end of the Estate. Along with extensive areas of upland and blanket bog which host breeding greenshank, dunlin and golden plover, the estate offers walked up grouse shooting, stalking and salmon fishing. Rotational muirburn is used to regenerate heather, reduce the risk of damage from wildfires, and assist in geographical redistribution of deer, which helps to reduce overgrazing. The estate has also embarked on a very substantial programme of native tree planting and regeneration.
By comparison, Finzean estate lies a few miles outside Banchory in Aberdeenshire. Game and wildlife management on the Estate is undertaken to support a wide range of species, including the iconic capercaillie. Until the 1980s, the moor at Finzean produced bags of 600 brace of grouse a season, but then suffered a steep decline in fortunes. Since then, considerable effort has been put in to improve the upland habitat alongside other conservation initiatives, and this has resulted in a steady recovery.
Gannochy is one of the great Angus estates, revived from relative disrepair by the current management team. Substantial investment has been required to put Gannochy back on the sportsman’s map, and this has involved a great deal of work on the grazing front. The estate is now famed for its success with Macnabs, featuring regularly in The Field magazine. Gannochy now sets an excellent example for other sporting estates, offering varied bags with an emphasis on quality over quantity in some of the loveliest surroundings in Scotland.
The final selection process will take place in June, and the winner of 2014’s Golden Plover Award will be announced in time to be presented with a beautiful print by renowned wildlife artist Colin Woolf on Friday 7th July at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone.
The Golden Plover Award is a joint initiative between the Heather Trust and GWCT Scotland, first awarded in 2013.
The Heather Trust is an independent charity based in Dumfries promoting and supporting integrated moorland management across the U.K. http://www.heathertrust.co.uk
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust is a scientific research organisation with strong ties to the sporting community. https://www.gwct.org.uk/
The inaugural winner of the Golden Plover Award was Edinglassie Estate on Donside, for its work on ticks, medicated grit and re-wetting to conserve peatland.
In 2014, the Golden Plover Award is supported by Wildlife Estates Scotland and Savills PLC.
More information on the Golden Plover Award can be found at: http://www.heathertrust.co.uk/#!goldenplover2014/cdcx or contact Patrick Laurie at The Heather Trust (Tel: 01387 723201) or Katrina Candy at GWCT (Tel: 01738 554822).
Images available by request to [email protected]