Bid to tackle impact of foreign species receives £1.6m cash boost
A project to tackle the problems posed by invasive nonnative species – such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American mink – has received a £1.6 million funding boost.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been given the £1.59m grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The project, which focuses on species associated with lochs and rivers, will see the target species managed at spots within an area of northern Scotland.
SNH chair Mike Cantlay said: “The aim of this exciting and ambitious project is to raise awareness and understanding of invasive non-native species, biosecurity measures and the importance and sensitivity of our freshwater environment.
“Scotland’sfreshwatersconstitute more than 90 per cent of the total volume of fresh waters in the United Kingdom and support a range of economic activities as 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 globallyendangered species, such as 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 are having a “significant impact” on biodiversity, according to 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 nonnative species often out-compete native flora and fauna.