Case Study - Wildlife Estates Scotland

Acoura spoke to Ross Macleod - Project Manager with Wildlife Estates Scotland about the scheme and its benefits. 

Tell us a little about the WES Scheme.

"Wildlife Estates Scotland is a game and wildlife management accreditation scheme that has its roots in a European initiative established in 2004. WES itself was set up in 2010. Much of game and wildlife management is already carried out to a very high standard, but there is always room for improvement and land managers must rise to the challenge of demonstrating how Scotland’s rich biodiversity benefits from their day-to-day practices. WES assesses an applicant’s management against:"

  • Commitment to best practice
  • Adoption of game and wildlife management plans that underpin best practice
  • Maintaining species and habitats records
  • Conservation and collaborative work
  • Integration with other land management activities (such as farming, forestry and tourism)
  • Social, economic and cultural aspects (such as employment and community engagement)

Who can join the scheme? 

"Any landowner can join the scheme. With increasing focus on ‘green’ agriculture, WES accreditation can extend well beyond sporting estates to include farms with interests in game and wildlife management. Also, where game management might be let out, we want to encourage greater collaboration between owners and tenants to ensure a consistent approach to best practice."

Do you need to have a certain amount or type of land to join? 

"There are no restrictions, nor does it matter whether land management is exercised by a private individual, a business, a trust or charity. The most important aspect is a clear focus on best practice."

What would you say the main benefits of getting involved are?   

"First and foremost, the scheme is self-regulatory. With greater participation and success in best practice and conservation, it will obviate the need for Government to implement licensing, which could be expensive and bureaucratic to administer. Most challenges facing game and wildlife starts with the need to understand what our baseline position is in terms of species and habitats. If we can add in more precision, for instance in terms of species numbers, it will help to determine future management.

We also want to ensure that those achieving WES accreditation will benefit in a number of ways including links with agri-environment schemes, training support and access to facilities such as advertising, mapping and recording."

How have you seen the scheme change since it first started?  

"The scheme has changed, and will continue to adapt to updates in best practice and the application of codes of practice (such as deer management, or muirburn), as well as legislation. In this respect, we retain an Expert Advisory Panel, drawn from organizations including the RSPB, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Cairngorm National Park."

What are your main ambitions for WES, over the coming years?

"The main ambitions for WES are that it becomes an Integral part of the way Scotland’s countryside is managed, that there is all-round confidence in the Accreditation system, and that it generates clear improvements in best practice and biodiversity gains at little cost to the public purse. With more species and habitats information, we hope that this will facilitate conflict resolution."

How easy is it to join the scheme, where can I find more information?

"There are two levels of membership: level 1 is a commitment to the principles of sound management, and level 2 membership is awarded to those who achieve accreditation. You can find out more about the scheme and how to join at"

Are there similar schemes in England – or is this just a Scottishprogramme? 

"At present this is just a Scottish initiative, but we hope that our success will be a spur to England and Wales to follow our lead!"

To find out more about the Wildlife Estates Scotland scheme contact us today.


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