Rottal is an upland estate in the Angus Glens. It has high densities of Mountain Hares as well as nesting Golden Eagles, Peregrines, Merlins, and nationally important quantities of nesting waders as well as over 100 other different bird species.
The estate incomes come from renewable energy (a hydro scheme and biomass) sheep farming, holiday lets, a venue for events, grouse shooting and stalking.
The number of Red Grouse shot each year depends on the annual grouse counts and a decision is made in early August how many surplus grouse can be shot without affecting sustainable stocks for the following year.
The focus at Rottal is always to improve biodiversity and habitats through a range of conservation measures such as restoring and re-naturalising rivers and burns, wetland improvements and tree planting where appropriate whilst maintaining a healthy and thriving moorland ecosystem.
Dee Ward, owner of Rottal Estate, said:
“Shooting of grouse and deer sits comfortably with our aims of holistic upland estate management and brings in much-needed income to the estate, often from European visitors, to help continue our environmental work.
“It is often overlooked that each person coming to Scotland from abroad spends money on flights, car rental, hotels, restaurants, and shopping both in Edinburgh and locally to Rottal in the Angus Glens. This money is recycled through the local community benefiting tradespeople, pubs, hotels and other businesses. It must also be remembered that what we do also provides valuable employment that in turn keeps schools and shops open, in fragile rural communities.
“In addition to the economic and community benefits, grouse moor management, or more accurately upland management, also delivers a superb mix of biodiversity – Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Mountain Hares, Ring Ouzels, Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover and a host of raptors including Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers, and also a host of mammals such as Otters, Water Voles, Pine Martens and Mountain Hares.”
The estate restored 30 hectares of peatland in 2020, with the help of Peatland Action, as part of a scheme to restore up to 300 hectares over the next five years. The site selected required both grip blocking (blocking drainage channels that were installed to help agriculture in the post-War period) and bare peat restoration.
Peatland restoration is a crucial tool to help stop the release of carbon, to capture more carbon, to improve wildlife habitats, as well as reducing flooding and improving water quality further downstream.
Rottal Estate has also planted about 250,000 trees in the last 15 years as well as creating a number of areas of natural regeneration
An ongoing programme of works , in collaboration with the Esk Fishery Board and Esk Fishery Trust amongst other partners has included remeandering the Rottal Burn to slow the flow of water in periods of heavy rainfall, protecting salmon eggs and juvenile fish, a Pearls in Peril riparian planting scheme, which covers about 20 hectares, to help boost the number of freshwater pearl mussels in the Upper South Esk catchment and a contour planting scheme of about 80 hectares of mainly native species, including birch, rowan, willow and Scots pine, that stretches for three miles along the lower slopes of the hillside, to prevent silt runoff into the river after heavy rain.
The estate is currently working together with partners to improve the main South Esk river by adding areas of woody debris to encourage invertebrates as well as creating more riparian and wetland zones along the river.
The results of this ambitious policy in collaboration with NGO partners are becoming increasingly evident and Rottal is creating a very diverse and wildlife-abundant estate that is gaining national recognition.