Dumfries and Galloway estate awarded European Conservation Accreditation

L-R SLE chairman David Johnstone & Arthur Sweerts

A SPORTING estate in a remote glen in Dumfries & Galloway, which welcomes tourists from around the world, has received a prestigious accreditation which recognises landowners who are committed to best practice in conservation, habitat and wildlife management.

Covering 2000 acres, Auchenbrack estate in Tynron has been accredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) following a rigorous assessment by an independent accreditation organisation, who were particularly impressed with the estate’s work in enhancing the habitat of protected species including red squirrels, black grouse and ring ouzels.

Arthur Sweerts, owner of Auchenbrack Estate said: “We are delighted to receive WES accreditation which recognises the important work we are doing to help wildlife flourish on our estate. We are so fortunate to have protected species including squirrels, black grouse and ring ouzels and we are doing all we can to protect and grow their numbers.

“Our woodlands provide important shelter and breeding opportunities for birds and other wildlife, while our farming practices follow best practice ensuring good quality soil and high quality livestock.”

WES, which is supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage and managed by Scottish Land & Estates, aims to promote the best habitat and wildlife management practices, build recognition and raise standards through the introduction of an objective accreditation system.

Assessments are scored on commitment to best practice, community engagement, adoption of wildlife and habitat management plans, maintaining species and habitat records and conservation and collaborative work as well as their integration with other land management activities.

Accreditation is based on the combined score achieved for each of these sections, a qualitative assessment of management and site visits, all of which are conducted by an objective, external assessor.

Caroline Pringle, Project Officer at Wildlife Estates Scotland, said: “Auchenbrack estate has shown they are committed to improving biodiversity and encouraging wildlife. Their Accreditation by Wildlife Estates Scotland is testament to their hard work and dedication. Estates, farms, campsites and other land-based businesses play a crucial role in conserving and protecting our environment and only those found to meet the highest standards can be accredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland.”

Alongside Authenbrack estate, the Sweerts family manage the Buccleuch and Queensberry Hotel in nearby Thornhill. Both businesses provide important employment for the surrounding communities. Additionally, the tourists attracted to the estate and hotel benefit the local economy.

Wildlife Estates was established in 2005 and is active in 19 European countries facilitating collaboration between the public and private sectors, particularly around biodiversity and conservation, and sharing best practice.

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