The Estate is passionate and committed about linking conservation with commercial activities. The Farm is an Entry Level Stewardship scheme and has signed up for a High Level Stewardship scheme. There is also a strong emphasis on grassland management and conservation crops for wild bird habitat and waterways. New ponds and lakes are being created and existing ones restored (See our Fishing Page)
Although Belvoir is one of the largest shoots in the country – wildlife conservation is always at the forefront of Belvoir’s priorities. Along with the creation of new lakes, the opening out of old lakes that have remained dormant for up to 100 years and replanting many acres of woodland, Belvoir have also a commitment to wildlife and in particular the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Osprey Project.
Ospreys have been spotted fishing the Belvoir estate ponds on a number of occasions this year. This majestic bird of prey had a long association with Belvoir and other country estates throughout history until it became extinct in England in the 1840’s. Now, thanks to work being undertaken by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust in association with Anglian Water, the Rutland Water Osprey Project has successfully re-introduced Ospreys to Rutland. With the 100th chick successfully reared this year by the project, the younger male Ospreys are seeking new territories, and with Belvoir only 20 miles from Rutland Water it is just a short flight for a bird which migrates over 3,000 miles each year to Africa.
Renewables – Biomass
The estate’s woodland is certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) and is able to manage its woodland to sustainably support its biomass projects.
The estate has installed a Biomass Boiler in 2013 which successfully feeds the castle with heat and hot water throughout the year.
The estate is always looking at ways of sustainable energy. All light fittings have now installed with Low energy light bulbs.
The Belvoir Estate comprises of around 16,000 acres. Within this, 12,000 acres is arable, 1,654 woodland and 2,000 permanent grassland. The estate is divided into two categories.
The ‘in-hand’ estate where all the farming and other businesses are managed by Belvoir – which is 2,000 acres of arable, 1,000 acres of permanent grassland and 1,654 of woodland.
The other category is the ‘let’ estate – comprising of the remaining area of which the farming and other enterprises are rented by tenants.
Comprises of a rotation of crops which includes wheat, peas and oilseed rape. There is also a possibility of growing potatoes in red loam soil which is ideal for achieving a perfect skin finish to suit supermarket standards.
A variety of cattle and sheep graze the parkland surrounding the castle. With the introduction of the new farm shop at the Engine Yard in 2016 it is the estate’s intention to provide locally reared produce – from farm to fork.
The Belvoir Estate includes 1,720 acres of beautiful woodland which is home to many native and exotic tree species, ranging from one to several hundred years old.
From the earliest times the woodland here has been a significant resource and has been managed over the centuries with programmes of thinning, felling and replanting.
The current management programme is in accordance with the Woodland Bird Project, a grant scheme run by the Forestry Commission. The Project aims to reverse the worrying decline in the numbers of woodland birds by helping landowners to improve woodland habitats for birds and wider biodiversity. Activities include thinning, coppicing and woodland ride management.
Recently a project at the forefront of attention was the felling of around 52 hectares of mature larch. These non-native conifers were planted in the 1920s to provide timber for the future and were more than ready to be harvested. Larch is also seen as a potential cause of the spread of Phytophthora ramorum – or Sudden Oak Death, a disease that actually kills larch in this country. The area was replanted with native broadleaves such as oak, small-leaved lime, wild cherry and sweet chestnut. A total of 21,000 tiny trees were planted in the space once occupied by the larch, each with a guard for protection against being eaten by Muntjac deer and other wild animals.
Fifty-seven acres of new native woodland were also planted recently to break up large areas of agricultural land for shelter, to improve the landscape and for sport. The Belvoir Estate woodland team also attends to veteran trees in the Castle grounds and cares for the trees on rental properties within the Estate.
Quality oak, cherry, ash, sycamore, yew and softwoods are grown and sold for commercial use, with a full replanting and management programme in place to ensure future supplies.
Sixty cubic metres of ash trees are felled each year for the production of hurley sticks in Ireland and cricket bat willow is grown for cricket bat production.
At any one time, the Belvoir Estate has 2000 tonnes of cut wood stored and drying out for firewood and woodfuel. Of this, over 600 tonnes are sold each year for high quality firewood delivered throughout the local area.
After tree felling, the best quality timber is sold in the round and the rest is stored for drying. After about 12 months, branchwood from the tops of trees and early thinnings are turned into logs and the rest is chipped for woodfuel.
Seasoned Hardwood Firewood for Sale
Delivered throughout the Vale of Belvoir.
Half a load of logs is 1m3 @ £80
A full load of logs is 2m3. @ £150
Delivery is usually 1-2 weeks and is free within ten miles of the Castle.
Phone: 01476 871035