PASSIONATE about farming both for food and for nature, a group of Perthshire farmers met last week to forge a new approach showing their commitment to the environment.
The Strathmore Wildlife Cluster, set up in spring of 2019, is led by Will Henderson and has already grown to cover 4,000 hectares of land stretching south from Alyth to Balbeggie. The group is developing its own conservation plan, concentrating on restoring the population of grey partridges, which used to be a common sight in the area.
Will Henderson explained: “We’ve chosen to focus on grey partridges because their growth in numbers will provide a good barometer for our work with nature. And we know that if we’ve got it right for partridges, we will be creating the right habitat and conditions for other species too, such as yellowhammer and skylark, as well as insects and pollinators.”
Keen to demonstrate their environmental credentials, the Strathmore Wildlife Cluster invited local MP Pete Wishart to meet its farming group members to see what they aim to achieve. In his role as SNP agriculture spokesman at Westminster, Mr Wishart was delighted to accept the offer, joining the group to discuss their initiative and walk over Grange of Aberbothrie, one the farms involved in the cluster.
Also on hand was the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s head of policy in Scotland, Ross Macleod, who was thrilled by the formation of the Strathmore Wildlife Cluster.
He said: “This is a really important development, along similar lines to the farmer-led clusters established in England with the help of the GWCT a few years ago. These have taken off down south, backed by facilitation funding from Natural England. We hope we can encourage the Scottish Government to follow suit, helping to develop the kind of landscape-scale, environmentally friendly approaches they would like to see in the Scottish countryside.”
Also working with another farmer cluster to the west of Inverness, the GWCT hopes that many more farming groups across Scotland will be inspired to demonstrate that productive farming sits comfortably with nature.
Members of the Strathmore Wildlife Cluster with Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire admiring a fantastic mix of white mustard, phacelia, vetch, crimson clover and white clover sown in early May as part of an Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
For information, contact:
Telephone: 0131 445 5570