Conservation is Lord Barnard's passion and since 1991 the emphasis has been to support and encourage all wild game and other wildlife throughout the Estate.
Advice was sought from The Game Conservancy Trust (GCT) and a rigid management policy was implemented. Conservation headlands six metres wide have been introduced, which encourage the growth of broadleaf weeds and their associated insects, providing an abundance of food on which game bird chicks and small songbirds feed. The prevention of cleavers and barren brome invasion of cereal crops was achieved by the introduction of one metre sterile strips between field boundaries and headlands. This practice has contributed to Raby seeing some of the highest populations of grey partridge in some years.
To assist the grey partridge survival, plots of game cover mixture, incorporated with wild bird set-a-side cropping, have been introduced to provide the partridge cover throughout the winter months, which helps reduce losses suffered from the talons of sparrow hawk. Within these plots it was noticed that large numbers of small seed gatting songbirds frequent these areas, which lead to a new project which was partially funded by G.C.T. and Kings Seeds. The three year project was initiated to determine which crops suited song bird populations best. The project has encouraged a wide range of songbirds such as linnet, redpolls, goldfinches and skylarks.
Grazing has been managed on specific areas of low lying bog to create both food and nesting habitat for the same species. An extensive drain blocking programme has been carried out on the moorland to slow down erosion, and in some cases has succeeded in stopping it. This damage was a result of moorland drainage carried out in the push for food production following the Second World War. These drain blocks which create countless small pools are beneficial to wading birds as a source of food.
The Raby Estates also includes The Upper Teesdale Estate, which is nationally and internationally known, both for its botany and ornithology. The plants assemblage is unique in Britain and the density and diversity of the birds probably the best in mainland Britain. In recognition of this, the majority of the Estate is a Site of Special, Scientific Interest (S.S.S.I.), with some of that forming part of a National Nature Reserve (N.N.R.), as a proposed Special Protection Area (S.P.A.). The Estate has developed an excellent working relationship with English Nature (E.N.), and in conjunction with EN and the tenant farmers a number of conservation strategies have evolved.