Landowner-Government partnership key to addressing wildlife and habitat loss

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater MSP

COLLABORATION between government, business and landowners is key to reversing the huge loss in wildlife and biodiversity both in Scotland and across Europe, an international congress being held in Edinburgh has heard.

Wildlife Estates (WE) International Congress is being attended by representatives from 11 of the 19 member countries participating in Wildlife Estates, an accreditation initiative to promote the best habitat and wildlife management practices for farms and estates. Attendees are convening to discuss progress, share knowledge and see the work being undertaken on accredited landholdings in Scotland.

Lorna Slater MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, attended a congress dinner and praised the “exemplary leadership” provided by Wildlife Estates in tackling the nature crisis.

A roundtable discussion was also held with landowner representatives from Scotland and countries across Europe as well as Scottish Government officials, NatureScot chair Colin Galbraith and Grant Moir, CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Two site visits to accredited Scottish landholdings, including Bavelaw Estate in the Pentland Hills and Hopetoun Estate were also held for delegates to see innovative conservation projects first-hand in Scotland. 

The International Congress also coincided with publication of the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy to 2045: Tackling the Nature Emergency in Scotland.

Miles Montgomerie, chair of Wildlife Estates Scotland, said it was vital that a partnership approach was taken between private landowners and government across Europe to deliver sustainable land management.

Miles Montgomerie said:

“Scotland has set clear but challenging targets to deliver biodiversity enhancement and climate-change mitigation and if we have a realistic chance of those being delivered, it needs to be a partnership between all parties – government, businesses, landowners as well as NGOs – to deliver that. One party cannot achieve it on its own.

“We are fortunate that the Scottish Government has engaged really positively with Wildlife Estates Scotland and is using the practical information and data we gather on species and land management to inform its own decision-making.

“We were pleased to talk with the Minister and Scottish Government officials, and it has been a useful opportunity to learn from other countries what collaboration they have in place between government and land managers to address the biodiversity crisis. Landowners and managers need to be viewed as trusted operators by government and that is what Wildlife Estates has been achieving in Scotland.

“It is an honour for Scotland to host the international congress. It’s good to see so many countries represented at the congress and it will encourage the growth of Wildlife Estates as an invaluable asset for land managers, government, academic institutions and NGOs moving forward.”

Konstantin Kostopoulos, Chair of the international Wildlife Estates Steering Group, added:

“We are delighted to be able to visit Scotland and hear about the positive steps they are taking to engage with their government and other stakeholders. As a family, Wildlife Estates takes great pride in learning from our network of member countries and helps us accelerate our ability to restore biodiversity in a collaborative manner, on a landscape-scale.”

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