Right: Carolyne and Somerset Charrington, with RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden. Photo: RSPB.
In this year’s competition Somerset and Carolyne Charrington from the Isle of Mull impressed voters with their excellent understanding of diverse farmland habitats, and managing their farm, Treshnish, to benefit a range of different species.
The pair have created and restored key habitats such as native woodland, wetland, peat bog and moorland on their 750ha upland livestock farm.
Wildlife has flourished, and includes field gentian, wood bitter vetch, corncrake, curlew, increasing populations of yellowhammer and whinchat and a host of invertebrates; including more than 300 species of moths and butterflies.
Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director, said: “I am delighted that we have our first ever Nature of Farming Award winners in the Charringtons, I have seen firsthand the work they’ve undertaken which is delivering quality livestock and supporting some of our rarest and most cherished species. The flowery meadows and bird song on the farm are superb. They are an inspiration.”
Carolyne and Somerset Charrington, of Treshnish Farm said: “It is a privilege for us to live here and to be custodians of this farm. Our cattle and sheep are the key to maintaining the rich mosaic of habitats on the farm, and underlines, to us, the importance of keeping sheep and cattle on the hills of Scotland.
"We have a popular coastal path that brings locals and visitors onto the farm daily, and it’s great to share their enjoyment of the wildlife they encounter. We are extremely proud to have been chosen as the winners of the Nature of Farming Award. It’s a huge boost to our confidence and proves that what we are doing in terms of farming, conservation and sustainability is working."
Wildlife cameraman (left) Gordon Buchanan, who grew up on Mull and along with ForArgyll campaigned for Treshnish added: "It's a reflection... of the hard work of many other environmentally-friendly farmers on Mull and Iona who also go the extra mile for wildlife. This farm and many others are vital to the survival of our wildflowers, butterflies, moths and the famous Mull birds including corncrakes, white-tailed eagles and those all-important farmland finches, buntings and waders. What a place!"
The RSPB’s annual award, sponsored by The Telegraph, supported by Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation and funded by the EU LIFE+ programme, aims to celebrate farmers who do wonderful things for wildlife.