A nature friendly family farm on the outskirts of Edinburgh has become the smallest landholding in Scotland to be awarded prestigious international wildlife accreditation.
Easter Bavelaw Farm, which is nestled to the south of Threipmuir Reservoir in the Pentland Hills, has gained Wildlife Estates Scotland (WES) certification following a rigorous accreditation process. At only 193 hectares, Easter Bavelaw and its owners Becci and Graham Barr are pursuing an exemplary environmental approach to their land management.
After purchasing the farm in 2016, the Barrs have operated the farm as a low input, low output, low impact sheep farm with a modest flock of Easycare ewes. In doing so, they have implemented a holistic approach to land management and food production, ranking the enhancement of biodiversity with equal priority to creating and maintaining an economically viable business.
In the last six years, they have planted nearly 50ha of mixed commercial and non-commercial woodland, planted 200m of hedgerow and implemented minimum tillage techniques in forage crop production and grassland management – beneficial for wildlife and in particular, wading birds.
Since taking over Easter Bavelaw we have put wildlife and conservation at the heart of our running of the farm. It is important to us that we make a positive contribution to the environment and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to achieve Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation as part of this journey. It has been a demanding process to get to this stage but one we would recommend to farms and estates of all sizes. We’ve received great support from our neighbours and the WES team and by working together in collaboration, we’re able to achieve better outcomes for nature.Becci Barr, Easter Bavelaw
In 2020, Easter Bavelaw Farm, along with five of their nearest neighbours, decided to proceed with forming a collaborative cluster of local land managers in order to further their ambition of improving the environment through landscape-scale habitat management. Alongside their fellow WES accredited neighbours, Easter Bavelaw have had to compile a mandatory five-year Habitat Management Plan as part of their WES assessment.
Within it, Becci and Graham show no signs of slowing down their ambition for boosting ecosystem health with more hedgerows planned and formal monitoring of a greater variety of species being introduced. And just two months ago, they collaborated with WES and Buglife to host a pollinator workshop to help land managers understand how to survey and monitor pollinator life. They have also proposed establishing an outreach plan for Pentland Regional Park users to help protect wildlife in the area.
To receive Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation is a fantastic achievement by Easter Bavelaw Farm and our congratulations go to Graham and Becci for their conservation efforts. The WES accreditation process is rigorous and requires detailed information on species and habitat as well as future land management plans. Landholdings of any size can undertake this process but smaller properties often find it more challenging to dedicate the resources required with so many competing demands on time and finance. To be the smallest accredited property in Scotland shows the dedication of Graham and Becci to achieve the best for wildlife and the environment whilst running an outstanding farming operation.Caroline Pringle, Project Manager at Wildlife Estates Scotland