Moorland management award for South Skye estate

GPA winner 2017
Pictured (left to right) are Adam Smith, director of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland; Craig Jackson and Scott MacKenzie of Fearann Eilean Iarmain; Michael Yellowlees, head of rural services, Lindsays; Ian Coghill, chairman, GWCT; Richard May, the Heather Trust; Simon Thorp, director of the Heather Trust

Fearann Eilean Iarmain, the South Skye estate, has won the 2017 Golden Plover Award for Moorland Management.

The estate overcame tough competition to win the award, which is jointly run by the Heather Trust and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Scotland. The award recognises the essential part played by the gamekeepers of Fearann Eilean Iarmain in conserving and protecting the natural environment and the associated wildlife that thrive locally.

Establishing Fearann Eilean Iarmain in 1972, Sir Iain Noble was committed to supporting and to promoting the linguistic and cultural heritage of the crofting communities. Sir Iain invested in the conservation of the environmental heritage, pioneering the establishment of one of the first native woodland regeneration schemes in Scotland.

Head keeper, Scott MacKenzie, said: “Solid foundations were set over 40 years ago which enable Fearann Eilean Iarmain to continue to shape and build a strong, healthy working environment for future generations.

“Sir Iain Noble understood the value of protecting a healthy, diverse landscape that not only supports the traditional land uses of crofting and farming but also encourages a wealth of wildlife and a diversity of habitats. Much of this was achieved, at the time, by employing a gamekeeper, Skye’s only full-time gamekeeper. Today an underkeeper/ghillie is also employed.

“Amongst our many objectives is to continue the success of ground nesting birds and waders and to manage the moorland and the woodlands so that they continue to be ideal habitats that support a rich diversity of wildlife.”

Local crofter and grazings shareholder, Donnie MacKinnon, added: “I am delighted that Fearann Eilean Iarmain has won the award. I always look forward to working with the gamekeepers, especially at muirburning time. Their professionalism and support is changing the way we manage the moors and will help us to carry out the muirburn according to the code.”

Sir Iain’s widow Lucilla added: “Environmental conservation has always been a vital part of Fearann Eilean Iarmain’s ethos. Following the pioneering initiatives of Sir Iain, Fearann Eilean Iarmain continues to take the long term perspective and remains committed to conserving and protecting the environment and to actively supporting the linguistic and cultural heritage of Gaelic that is an intrinsic part of the landscape.”

The Golden Plover Award is held each year to celebrate the very best of progressive, innovative upland management in Scotland, with an emphasis on balance and integration. The Golden Plover Award was presented along with a print by the celebrated wildlife artist Colin Woolf at a ceremony hosted by award sponsors Lindsays at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace on Friday 30th June.