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Scottish couple crowned King and Queen of wildlife friendly farming

22/09/2011 20:08:50

WINNERS: Somerset and Carolyne Charrington

Record-breaking number of votes in this year's RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award

September 2011: A couple from Mull have become the first Scottish winners of a prestigious national farming competition.

The RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award, in conjunction with Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Plantlife Scotland, celebrates wildlife friendly farming and those who take the time to improve and preserve important habitats for nature.

This year's competition attracted hundreds of entrants but it was a husband and wife team with a philosophy that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand that won the hearts and minds of the voting public.

Restored native woodland, wetland and peat bogs
Somerset and Carolyne Charrington from the Isle of Mull impressed voters with their excellent understanding of diverse farmland habitats, 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 first-hand 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 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.

It's great to share the enjoyment of wildlife
‘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 Gordon Buchanan, who grew up on Mull added: ‘I'm so pleased for Carolyne and Somerset. Treshnish Farm is a worthy winner of this prestigious UK-wide award. It's a reflection too of the hard work of many other environmentally-friendly farmers on Mull and Iona who also go the extra mile for wildlife.'

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