Exploring lower carbon farming systems in the Cairngorms
Exploring lower carbon farming systems in the Cairngorms

Exploring lower carbon farming systems in the Cairngorms

Strutt & Parker is helping the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to deliver on an ambitious plan to address the climate change crisis and restore and protect nature across what is the UK’s largest National Park.

As part of its Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 programme, the Park Authority has asked Strutt & Parker to deliver carbon audits and farm business reviews on six farms through its Cairngorms Future Farming project.

“The objective is to assess the farming practice on each of the farms and explore the options for transitioning to lower carbon and higher nature value farming systems, while still producing food and remaining profitable,” says Joel Paterson, a specialist in environmental land management based in the Inverness office of Strutt & Parker.

“This is a challenge that all farms are currently facing, but this work will focus on exploring ways to improve farm performance, at the same time as cutting carbon output, on the mixed, upland edge farms that are typically found in the park.”

Stephen Whiteford, a farming consultant also based in the Inverness office of Strutt & Parker, adds: “The work is particularly timely as there have been plenty of hints from government that carbon friendly farming will be heavily incentivised when it comes to accessing future funding.

“Although UK farming practices have been changing as research points to ways to farm with much lower carbon emissions, the CNPA has identified that much of the work to date has focused on higher input lowland farms. This work will help to develop understanding of the particular challenges and opportunities facing lower input farms in, or close to, upland areas.”

Farming in the National Park is much more extensive and with fewer inputs used, which contributes to the high biodiversity levels within the area. However, this means the gains made from changes to a lowland high input model are not as applicable to this highly sensitive landscape.

It is anticipated that the six farms will act as demonstration farms for net zero and nature-friendly farming, helping to communicate best practice across the National Park and Scotland.

Strutt & Parker’s team is increasingly involved in environmental land management work, including carbon audits, natural capital accounting, peatland restoration, woodland planting and management, Biodiversity Net Gain and nutrient neutrality. 

The Heritage Horizons programme is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. If you would like to know more about the project, contact Joel Paterson or Stephen Whiteford.

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