Nat­u­ral her­itage se­cures £1.5m lot­tery grant to com­bat non-na­tive species

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

HILARY DUNCANSON

Mink have dev­as­tated water vole pop­u­la­tions.

well as ecosys­tem ser­vices such as drink­ing water, elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and flood pro­tec­tion.

“This project will sup­port us in work­ing with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions to help care for this pre­cious re­source.”

Net­works of rivers, burns, lochs and pools sup­port much of north­ern Scot­land’s bio­di­ver­sity, ex­perts say. This

in­cludes glob­ally-en­dan­gered species, such as the fresh­wa­ter pearl mus­sel, whose life­cy­cle is de­pen­dent on salmon and trout.

Th­ese places also sup­port other species of con­ser­va­tion im­por­tance, such as ot­ter and water vole.

How­ever, in­va­sive non-na­tive species in fresh­wa­ter habi­tats are hav­ing a “sig­nif­i­cant im­pact” on bio­di­ver­sity, ac­cord­ing con­ser­va­tion­ists.

Pre­da­tion from Amer­i­can mink is said to be a prin­ci­pal fac­tor in the crash of the water vole pop­u­la­tion in Scot­land, while other plant and an­i­mal in­va­sive non-na­tive species of­ten out-com­pete na­tive flora and fauna.

The team work­ing on the Scot­tish In­va­sive Species Ini­tia­tive will work with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to man­age the in­va­sive threats.

It will see SNH work­ing with 10 fish­eries trusts or district salmon fish­eries boards, plus Aberdeen Univer­sity.

Or­gan­is­ers are also aim­ing to es­tab­lish a vol­un­teer net­work that will help to look af­ter lo­cal fresh­wa­ter bio­di­ver­sity once the project has been com­pleted.

Drew Ben­nel­lick, HLF head of land­scape and nat­u­ral her­itage, said: “This project is all about em­pow­er­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to help save Scot­land’s trea­sured na­tive habi­tats and species.”

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