As custodians of approximately 20,000 hectares of land, Argyll Estates is continuously evolving and pursuing new methods by which we can improve our sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint.
We are delighted that our efforts to date have been recognised with the Green Tourism Silver Award which Argyll Estates and Inveraray Castle were awarded in 2019 and was reconfirmed in 2022. Through continuing development of our policies and procedures to reduce energy consumption and waste, we aspire to achieve the Gold Award in the near future.
In 2008 we installed an in-house biomass boiler to heat the private side of Inveraray Castle, one of the highest energy consuming sites on the estate. The boiler is fuelled by bi-products of our forestry operations on the estate. The roundwood is chipped, left to dry naturally and is then tipped into the boilers where it is burned. This then heats the water which passes through the pipes to the castle providing central heating. With all the trees used in the process having been grown within 10 miles of the Castle it is a very green means of heating it.
Habitat impact assessments
Since 2018 we have been carrying out annual habitat impact assessments at 63 locations across the estate to monitor the habitats. We record data such as type of vegetation present, vegetation height, browsing levels, and whether any dung or animal prints are present. These 63 plots give us a snapshot of what is happening on the estate overall, and help us to understand whether the habitats are changing, and if we need to take any action in specific areas to halt any negative impacts that herbivores or other factors may be having on the land.
We are also in the early stages of developing two wildflower meadows, one within the formal Castle gardens and another nearby. Through both natural and assisted spreading of seeds, and mowing the areas only once a year in September, we hope that in time we will see evidence of a higher number of pollinating insects, birds and other invertebrates enjoying the meadows.
In 2019 we placed nesting boxes throughout the estate to provide cosy nesting sites for birds. So far, we have evidence of barn owls nesting in them. We also tagged our first ever golden eagle chick born on the estate to assist in gathering data about golden eagle movement patterns.
In order to achieve a balance between deer numbers and our land use objectives, we have a carefully managed programme of deer culling to control the deer population on the estate. Culling is required due to deer having no natural predators; without it the population would increase exponentially and become out of control.
Argyll Estates is a member of The Inveraray & Tyndrum Deer Management Group (ITDMG) which brings together landowners and land managers from throughout the area to collaboratively manage deer numbers to assist with sustainable land management. One of our commitments as a member of ITDMG is to carry out an annual deer count across our land each March. When all members conduct this on the same day, we gain a good indication of the deer density over an area extending to almost 60,000ha enabling a population model to be created and a collaborative approach to control numbers as required.