A YORKSHIRE landowner has earned a major agricultural award for a range of successful diversification projects and his commitment to improving the rural environment.

Charles Forbes Adam, owner of the 8,000-acre Escrick Park Estate near York, and chairman of the Yorkshire branch of the CLA, has received the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s (RASE’s) Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners.

The award is presented annually to one landowner who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the successful land management and development of an agricultural estate in England.

Escrick Park’s substantial diversification includes offices, commercial lets, holiday lodges, wedding facilities, an equestrian cross-country course and a National Nature Reserve.

During their visit to Escrick Park the judges were particularly impressed with not only the breadth of diversification, but the estate’s ability to maximise the potential of its rural assets while enhancing the natural environment.

Since 1990, more than 11 miles (18km) of new hedges have been planted, 12 ponds created or restored, and 222 acres (nearly 90 ha) of wildlife habitat created on arable land.

Work is currently under way to create the 22-acre (9ha) Three Hagges Jubilee Wood – the largest area of new woodland in the district.

A special programme of scrub clearance using rare breed Hebridean sheep, Longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies to graze has helped restore open heathland on the estate and ensure the future survival of wildlife.

The 677-acre (274ha) Skipwith Common at Escrick Park has National Nature Reserve status, in recognition of its internationally important wet and dry heathland.

The estate has also boosted the local economy through a sensitive £1.4m renovation of redundant farm buildings to create 24 eco-friendly offices and 14 light industry units.

Hollicars – the estate’s 180 pitch, five-star holiday park which opened in 2005 – has won the David Bellamy Gold Award for conservation five years in a row.

Mr Forbes Adam said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this prestigious award. Not only is it in recognition of everything we have been working towards for the past 20 years but it is also testament to the great work being done by our fantastic team.”