At the Black Isle Brewery Farm, we recently became a partner within the Northwoods Rewilding Network, a Scotland-wide chain of landholdings committed to nature recovery. Its partners share a vision for an ecologically-restored landscape, where habitats are better connected and species can recover, expand and disperse.
Northwoods organised for an ecologist to visit us and carry out a “Birds, Bees and Butterflies” survey. The aim was to map and assess wildlife diversity and habitat on the farm, giving us a baseline on which we hope to improve over the next few years.
The survey produced some great results, revealing 37 species of birds, including 8 “red list” species such as skylark, yellowhammer and grasshopper warbler. Seven species of bumblebee and 5 species of butterfly were also recorded, along with evidence of otters, badgers, foxes, shrews, voles and lizards.
We were delighted with the results, which clearly align with a recent Oxford University study showing that organic farms support an average of 34% more wildlife than conventional farms. The absence of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides mean that insect life and wildflowers are allowed to flourish, supporting a diverse array of mammals, birds and pollinators.
However, there is plenty more we can do. As part of our role as a partner within the Northwoods Rewilding Network, we are investigating new ways of increasing habitat on the farm – beginning with the planting of more low-level scrub and hedgerows, as well as increasing standing water through the creation of ponds and “leaky dams”.
We’ll keep you updated on social media and our website as we continue to create space for wildlife on our farm. Next time you visit the brewery, take a wander over to our organic market garden to find out more about our nature-friendly philosophy.