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Wildlife Farms & Estates Level 2 accreditation

We're delighted to announce that the Barnston Estate has become the first estate in Cheshire to receive the prestigious Wildlife Farms & Estates (WFE) Level Two accreditation.

The award is made to farms and estates that provide evidence of holistic and sustainable environmental, economic and social land management practices and who recognise the multifunctional role of rural business and land use. WFE accreditation is the label of excellence in championing the enhancement of wildlife and biodiversity through independent assessment.

A few years ago, whilst Ed Barnston was undertaking a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, he travelled extensively across the UK and Europe as part of his research into benchmarking successful rural estates.

One highlight was being introduced to Wildlife Farms & Estates, a scheme to encourage and enable the development of sustainable and holistic management practices that address the opportunities and challenges of land management.

The many lessons learnt overseas instigated a shift in direction from a traditional estate into a business model based on the ’Triple Bottom Line’ of People, Planet and Profit - social, environmental and economic needs - to account for the total contribution of sustainable land stewardship.

The first step was to undertake a natural capital baseline assessment and then to implement a 10-year environmental strategy. This incorporated fresh management approaches to hedges, pond restoration, riparian planting and woodland creation as well as the undertaking of a carbon sequestration project by restoring an ancient peat bog. This peat bog is unique for being only one of a handful in the country designated as a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and for attracting Ramsar status.

Securing the Level 2 accreditation was hard work but it has shown us areas that require more focus and confirmed other aspects where we are on track - which include balancing food production alongside enhancing biodiversity, unlocking Biodiversity Net Gain, raising the standards of land management expected by society and building a positive legacy for the future.

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Published: 09.01.2024