Te­tra-Pak heiress and magazine edi­tor Si­grid Raus­ing talks ping pong and rewil­d­ing

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

When I left Swe­den, I very much missed the wild. Nature is all around you there, as it is in Scot­land. We came to see Coignafearn in 1997, and saw an osprey div­ing for a fish in the river – I was hooked from that mo­ment.

I am a very bad Scot­tish dancer, but I love it. To any­one who has ever had the mis­for­tune to be part­nered with me: thank you for your pa­tience! I walk. I read. I play bad chess, scrabble and ping pong when I can find some­one to play with me, usu­ally my hus­band...

I have many favourite books, for dif­fer­ent moods. Mans­field Park, per­haps, if I had to choose one – the Craw­ford sib­lings are so in­ter­est­ing – I find them the most am­bigu­ous of Austen’s vil­lains.

Buy­ing Granta was a leap in the dark. But I am very glad we did it – I had read the magazine all my adult life, and had been pro­foundly formed by it.

I have many pet peeves. Lit­ter­ing, ne­glect­ful el­derly care, li­brary clo­sures, forc­ing chil­dren to read be­fore they are ready for it, the ex­ces­sive fo­cus on tests in school, the paucity of men­tal care and hospice and ad­dic­tion fa­cil­i­ties – and that’s be­fore we get into global cor­rup­tion and hu­man rights abuses...

I have had many dogs in my life. Sadly our lovely, feisty lit­tle Cav­a­lier King Charles spaniel died in an ac­ci­dent last Christ­mas. Re­plac­ing him has not proved easy.

I strongly be­lieve that hu­man rights and good gov­er­nance are key to de­vel­op­ment. I lived on a for­mer col­lec­tive farm in Es­to­nia for a year in the early 1990s, and saw first hand the rav­ages of Soviet rule in terms of most of the in­di­ca­tors that mat­ter. It was, how­ever, a pro­foundly peace­ful and safe place – and that mat­ters too, of course.

We were very con­cerned about how wind farms would af­fect our golden eagles. I ob­jected – and do ob­ject – to the creep­ing in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion of wild land­scapes in­volv­ing the widen­ing of roads and py­lons up and down the land.

Coignafearn was a chal­lenge. It was a de­graded en­vi­ron­ment, and a pretty bleak place, with an ugly his­tory of per­se­cut­ing birds of prey.

My neigh­bours couldn’t have been nicer. There was no open con­flict, but of course I was aware that many of them were less than happy about our deer re­duc­tion, which they felt might have an im­pact on their own deer num­bers. Iron­i­cally oth­ers have since im­ple­mented much more rad­i­cal deer re­duc­tions in or­der to pro­mote grouse num­bers, as well as killing thou­sands of hares to re­duce ticks – I don’t agree with the quasi-in­dus­trial ap­proach to grouse ei­ther. Our own grouse are truly wild: we don’t dose them or put out med­i­cated grit.

We now have na­tive tree re­gen­er­a­tion within en­clo­sures. We also have planted lots of na­tive trees there. The tree re­gen­er­a­tion out­side the en­clo­sures only hap­pens in places which are in­ac­ces­si­ble to deer and goats, so we have done some plant­ing on the steep banks of some of the trib­u­taries to the river.

Bio­di­ver­sity is on the in­crease at Coignafearn. We have ex­ten­sive heather, ju­niper, moss and wild flower re­gen­er­a­tion. Our but­ter­flies and moths are do­ing well, and the small bird pop­u­la­tion is much bet­ter. We have turned the es­tate from quite a ster­ile en­vi­ron­ment to a more di­verse and in­ter­est­ing one. Our wildlife cam­eras cap­ture pine martens, ot­ters, golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and other birds of prey – they’re hard to see, but we know they are there.

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