Our overarching aim as a charity at the GWCT is to change the public perception of proactive wildlife management and sustainable use, and embed in people’s minds a message that should be uncontroversial: properly conducted game shooting - and the freedom to manage private land for it - is the backbone of conservation in the wider landscape.
We aim to use our demonstration farm to inform, influence and inspire as follows:
The Auchnerran demonstration farm will:
- act as a repository for the GWCT's research and a reference point for other organisations that support its evidence-led approach;
- host ‘farm walk’ and ‘shoot walk’ days, and other initiatives such as Open Farm Sunday, and allow the GWCT's supporters access to real time data on the farm, and information on its operations;
- be a forum for discussing best practice and for keeping farmers and managers informed of the latest developments;
- enhance the GWCT's shooting, farming and biodiversity advisory services, providing training days on snaring and predator control;
- and enter a joint programme with the MacRobert Trust, allowing hands-on co-operation with other like-minded organisations
Auchnerran can play a valuable part in influencing policy and decision making. Why is this important?
- With land ownership and sporting activities in the spotlight, it has never been more critical to demonstrate proper land management, and show policy makers a logical continuation of landscape stewardship, from snipe bog, through to barley, to permanent pasture, the hill-edge and up to the heather moorland.
- The Auchnerran concept has been welcomed by Scottish Government bodies, and will complement the GWCT's work at the Allerton Project research farm, using practical examples based on good science and putting advice into practice.
- Auchnerran provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of the GWCT's ‘Farmer Clusters’, and of farmer-led landscape-scale conservation.
- A commercial farm operation, combined with game management and, in time, a small shoot will demonstrate the link between economically viable management and practical conservation objectives.
- In a man-made environment, conflict between species is inevitable - but Auchnerran can show how this can be managed sensitively and sustainably.
Auchnerran will engage with the local community, and provide education and inspiration for land managers and the wider public.
- Auchnerran can help to demystify shooting and farming operations for the public.
- Auchnerran can show that farming and game management working together create better rural employment opportunities, and a more vibrant working community.
- Managed properly and in line with advice, farmland and upland habitat are not only productive for farming and shooting but also harbour higher densities of invertebrates, songbirds, waders and other biodiversity target species.
- An intensification of conservation techniques can achieve net gains for wildlife while maintaining a viable farming enterprise.
- The GWCT's education programme at the Allerton Project can provide a template for similar at Auchnerran: public access facilities and open days; tertiary education; talks to land management and conservation students, school-age visits and workshops; and training for gamekeepers.