Wildlife Croft

Phil Knott

The Integrating Trees Network is managed by Scottish Forestry and the Scottish Government

Logos for Scottish Forestry and the Scottish Government on a clear background.

Phil Knott, Wildlife Croft, Skye

Phil Knott and his family took on a croft in Drumfearn, on the Sleat Peninsula of Skye in late 2015. The 3ha croft had been wholly deer fenced and planted up under a Woodland Grant Scheme in around 2006.

With backgrounds in natural history, they soon realised how rich the biodiversity was, and how much more could be included, soon giving it the handle Wildlife Croft Skye. Wildlife here is a by-product of sensitive, regenerative land management, and it is not at the expense of their outputs. Being a productive croft is important to them, and generating large amounts of woodfuel, woodchip and other non-forestry wood products for local crafters and even smokehouses! In the future, biochar and charcoal production will likely feature too, as will livestock, but not until the orchards are well-established.

The highest value items from the croft are basketry willow and Phil’s tree nursery business. In time, it is hoped the fruit from their young orchards will add another stream of income. Their self-catering unit focusses its marketing on the natural history of the croft, with lots of visitors from all walks of life asking for tours centred around the multi-faceted land use and food, fuel and fibre production alongside high biodiversity.

Their aim is to continue to raise the fertility and shelter of the croft and to continue to increase options and resilience for the future. All corners of the croft are managed, but many are in 7-10 year rotations of coppice and pollard. Open spaces are managed for the broadest range of flora and are then utilised as a hay which is used as a mulch and compost for the food producing corners of the croft.

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