Tough year on GWCT Scottish demonstration farm

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s demonstration farm in Auchnerran in Scotland has had a difficult year as it continues to work to showcase how a wild mixed shoot and productive farming can work together.
The third annual report, covering the year 2021, highlights the farming and research activities at the farm, as it demonstrates to practitioners, policy makers, influencers and others how such a mix can contribute to a net gain in natural capital in a marginal hill edge setting, as well as maintaining a profitable farming enterprise.
However, 2021 was a tough year on several counts, not least weather and the restrictions enforced on activity through Covid-19, but even with those challenges significant steps forward were made in terms of the farm, wildlife and the environment, science and research and the farm shoot.
Despite the limited number of days available, it enjoyed a successful shooting season, with a total bag including 65 pheasant, nine woodcock, three brown hares and 27 rabbits.
The year also saw the completion of the new visitor/education centre and staff office, although visitor and educational days were reduced significantly by Covid-19.
However, the business remained in profit, though reduced on last year due to fluctuations in subsidy payments.
David Noble, former GWCT Scotland chairman, said in his report forward: “Unfortunately, the beginning of 2021 did not see the end of the Covid-19 pandemic and activities at Auchnerran were, once again, significantly curtailed. In particular, the opportunities for welcoming policy makers and other visitors to the farm were much reduced. On the farming front, however, despite a very bad spring, it is encouraging that the lambing ratio held up well and that the financial position remained in positive territory.”
While the GWCT’s Dr Dave Parish added: “Auchnerran is coming out of the Covid-19 crisis stronger than ever, with significant changes underway through 2022. We have a new management structure in place and a larger team including new staff, as well as some exciting new projects.”