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Environment, Ecology and Access

Habitat and Biodiversity

Our main environmental focus in recent years has been on improving water quality in the watercourses on the estate. This has been achieved with riparian zone fencing to create buffer strips along the burns. These stop livestock from getting into the burns and reduce the runoff of fertilisers and sprays into watercourses. Most of the riparian zones have been planted with trees and some are used as part of the footpath network on the estate. We have been working closely with the James Hutton Institute which has carried out research to identify the longer term benefits of riparian zones for wildlife habitat. The Trust has established a bird hide that overlooks a wetland area linked to the Tarland waste water treatment plant and we encourage our farm tenants to undertake environmental improvements under EU and Scottish Government grant schemes. In 2022 the Trust commissioned an estate wide habitat survey to provide a baseline against which change can be measured over the years.

Climate change

The Trust is keen to establish the impact of its operations on climate and how it can work towards a net zero position.  To achieve this goal, the Trust has commissioned carbon audits for all of its activities. Work is ongoing to identify the amount of carbon sequestered in Trust owned woodland, on an annual basis. Gathering this data will allow the Trust to arrive at a net position for its CO2e (CO2 equivalent) emissions and identify the work required to achieve net zero. 


The Trust has a 400kw biomass heating system at Douneside House Hotel and Health Club, which also services 4 residential properties, a greenhouse and various other buildings. Woodchip to supply the boilers is provided from thinning and clearfelling operations in the Trust’s own woodland. The timber is air dried to less than 30% moisture content over two summers before being chipped. About 500 tonnes of green timber is retained each year for this purpose. The Trust also has a 250kW solar PV system providing power to Douneside House Hotel and the Health Club, This meets about 55% of the power needs for these two properties. Excess power generated is sold to the grid, generating an income for the Trust. 


The Trust works proactively with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (www.outdooraccesstrustforscotland.org.uk) OATS and the Tarland Development Group (TDG) to create and maintain various walking trails in the area.  A booklet which details the various walks available can be purchased at the shops in the village of Tarland for a modest cost. The Trust has leased land to the TDG for mountain bike trails in Drummy Wood and more recently for more extensive and adventurous trails on the wider estate and extending to land owned by a neighbouring estate; more information can be found here: www.tarland-trails.com