ROB Edwards reminds us of the complexities surrounding stewardship of one of the great estates of the Scottish Highlands (National Trust comes under fire from environmentalists - for not culling deer, News, April 8).
The Trust acquired Mar Lodge Estate in 1995 on the basis of a commitment to nature conservation, cultural heritage conservation, and promoting public access to over 29,000 hectares of wild montane, moorland and riparian habitats.
We also agreed to maintain Mar Lodge as a sporting estate. Success in regenerating areas of Caledonian pinewood is evident and our red deer sporting cull is now down at a maintenance level.
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We have brought the red deer population down to a level (around 1650) which can be supported by the habitat. Our cull is geared to maintaining this population. We are constructing fencing to protect our own stalking ground, and removing some enclosure fences that are no longer needed and will look at constructing new fences to accelerate woodland regeneration. We are liaising with neighbouring estates on measures such as fences and winter shelter. Specialist monitoring by the NTS informs our land and habitat management practices and we work with agencies such as SNH and Cairngorms National Park Authority to meet best practice standards for conservation and access. The Independent Review Panel Report on Mar Lodge Estate concluded that our conservation and sporting objectives "are not irreconcilable in any way", and has bolstered the Trust's steadfast commitment to long-term balance informed by evidence. Our 200-year vision sees successful integration of conservation, field sports and public access.
David Frew, property manager
Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar