Bid to tackle im­pact of for­eign species re­ceives £1.6m cash boost

The Scotsman - - Features - By HILARY DUNCANSON

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.

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