West Loch Ness Farm Cluster
This farm cluster is a first for Scotland and centres on 7 farms working in collaboration with a forestry commission site to put wildlife and biodiversity at the heart of land management over a total of approx. 15,000 acres covering riparian areas, lowland and upland farmland, traditional hill farmland, mixed forestry and in-shore marine habitats (at the Beauly Firth). Each of the landowners participating has already championed a variety of positive environmental policies on their own land (eg hedges, set-aside, beaver and other species introductions) however, they recognise that in order to progress further, they need to work collaboratively to achieve landscape scale changes. The farmers are supported by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and have been able to draw on the lessons learned from the successes of similar farm clusters in England. The West Loch Ness cluster, however, encompasses a much wider range of habitats and landscapes, as well as including farmers from various generations, and thus has the potential to become a crucial ambassador project for this approach with all sectors of the Scottish farming community.