West Loch Ness Farm Cluster
We are a group of neighbouring farmers in the West Loch Ness area, coming together to help local wildlife thrive through coordinated management at a landscape scale.
Mark Hamblin/ scotlandbigpicture.com
For years there has been a steady decline in biodiversity in our area of the Highlands of Scotland. For a lot of that time cluster members thought that this was only occurring on their ground. However, when neighbours conversations turned to wildlife it was clear very quickly that wildlife decline was ubiquitous throughout the area. This showed it was a landscape scale problem. For that we needed a landscape scale solution. Soon after this realisation we heard about the Farmer Cluster concept that was getting public funding and gaining momentum in England. There was our answer: start a Farm Cluster. A bottom up, farmer led organisation that encouraged farmers, crofters, estates and land managers to work together in pursuit of positive climate and biodiversity outcomes.
Since then we have been working hard to make a difference.
Indicative map showing the approximate WLNFC area
The marsh area before the rewetting works began.
Our flagship project is the rewetting of a 50 hectare marsh area. Historically this was a marsh and lochen area before years of partly sucessful drainage. Recently the area has been unproductive and under grazed . Through stage 1 of the rewetting project the cluster has worked hard to clear old fencing, re-profile deep and dangerous ditches to create larger areas of shallow standing bodies of water. Wildlife bridges were created to allow the safe migration of all wildlife across the wetland area. Finally, a new perimeter fence was put in to help control grazing on the exciting flora that is found on the marsh. As a result of the works done the marsh is now better suited for stock grazing and wildlife diversity. More work is planned soon.
The marsh area after the first round of rewetting works were completed.
‘This project is supported by the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot.’
Other ongoing projects
We have also put up Barn-Owl boxes across the WLNFC area and bee hives to increase pollination.