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West Highland Woodland Grazing Project

Location:Argyll & Lochabar

Habitats:Woodland mosaics

Livestock:Various breeds and types of livestock

In brief:A partnership woodland grazing project disseminating best practice

Contact:Lucy Sumsion (West Highland Woodland Grazing Project Officer)

Tel:01499 600113


Over the last ten years there has been increasing recognition of the value of livestock grazing in enhancing the biodiversity of native woodlands and encouraging natural regeneration. It is against this background that the West Highland Woodland Grazing Project (WHWGP) was initiated in 2004. The aims of the project are to inform the development of grants for conservation grazing, and to disseminate best practice amongst practitioners and advisers locally and throughout Scotland. The project operates under the umbrella of the Argyll and Bute Biodiversity Partnership. Current partners are Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, SEERAD, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Scottish Agricultural College and Scottish Native Woods.

In February 2004 the WHWGP held a Woodland Grazing Workshop in Stonefield Castle Hotel, Tarbert. One of the main outcomes from that workshop was recognition of the biodiversity benefits of woodland grazing and a rallying call for a more integrated and holistic approach to farm and woodland management. One year on, in March 2005, a second workshop was held at the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Connel, Argyll. Over 100 people attended the workshop; farmers, crofters, landmanagers, foresters, advisers, researchers, conservationists and agency staff from SNH, SEERAD and FCS. 2006 saw delegates coming from all over Scotland with some also travelling from south of the border.

In spring 2005, Forestry Commission Scotland launched a Pilot Stewardship Grant “S9” for controlled livestock grazing in woodland. The purpose of the Pilot grant is:
To enhance biodiversity and to maintain archaeological & historic sites as visible/accessible areas in wooded ecosystems by the use of planned and controlled grazing by domestic livestock.

S9 forms a benchmark in the integration of agricultural and forestry support. The West Highland Woodland Grazing Project was instrumental in the development of S9 and, in support of the Pilot, has developed a Woodland Grazing Toolkit designed to help land managers in devising grazing plans for woodlands. Alongside the Toolkit Monitoring Protocols have also been developed. You can download the Toolkit, the Monitoring Protocols and a Woodland Grazing Guidance Note bu clicking on the links.

The outputs from the S9 Pilot will be evaluated over the next three years and a decision taken as to whether to incorporate Sustainable Woodland Grazing into the Scottish Rural Development Plan as a Tier 3 Menu option.

Click here for an article entitled 'Trees & Livestock Can Grow Together: the background to the West Higland Woodland Grazing Project', written by Lucy Sumsion (WHWGP Project Officer) and published in GAP News 33 - Woodland Grazing special.