19 July 2006

Funding boost transforming reserves - RSPB

Funding boost transforming reserves

Two of Aberdeenshire's most important wildlife sites are to be transformed into major visitor attractions to benefit local people, tourists and the area's spectacular species thanks to £1 million of grants to RSPB Scotland.

Both RSPB Loch of Strathbeg and Troup Head reserves are undergoing significant upgrades to their facilities to provide inspirational first hand experiences of nature to visitors.

RSPB Loch of Strathbeg is separated from the sea only by sand dunes and supports an abundance of amazing wildlife.

However, pollution from a variety of sources has caused the ecological condition of the water to deteriorate, and the mixed habitats have also degraded over the years.
'This exciting project will give us the opportunity to improve access to two of Scotland's most impressive wildlife spectacles.'

Major habitat restoration and management will be undertaken at Loch of Strathbeg to reverse this historic ecological damage to the mosaic of freshwater loch, marsh, wet grassland and sand dune habitats that establish the reserve's internationally important status for wildlife.

This work will stimulate the recovery of a range of species such as breeding lapwing, redshank and snipe and over wintering pochard, coot and tufted duck. The wetland management will also help develop the reserve as an important resource for mammals such as otter, water vole and water shrew, whilst encouraging potential colonists such as crane, spoonbill and avocet.

For further information about the habitat enhancement project at Loch of Strathbeg, please see the link to the side of this page.

Troup Head, four kilometres of stunning coastline west of Fraserburgh, is RSPB Scotland's newest nature reserve and Scotland's only mainland gannetry with 1,500 nests.

There are currently no visitor facilities at this site. New interpretation and trails will be established to improve access and car-parking facilities will be developed.

As part of the funding package, a new community ranger will be appointed to encourage more people to experience and enjoy the natural heritage of north east Aberdeenshire.

The project will also expand Loch of Strathbeg's field-teaching programme, with the aim of more than doubling the number of children who visit with the site, to become established as a key local resource for environmental education for groups of all ages.

Dominic Funnell, RSPB Scotland's Loch of Strathbeg reserve manager said, 'This exciting project will not only allow us to enhance the internationally important wetland habitats at Strathbeg but will also give us the opportunity to improve access to two of Scotland's most impressive wildlife spectacles. By working with our partners and local communities we will be developing sympathetic wildlife tourism to bring wider economic benefits to the whole area.'

The project also received the support of Stewart Stevenson SNP MSP for Banff and Buchan, who in a letter to the reserve manager welcomed the project measures adding, 'Increasing the existing wildlife will improve the environment and more visitors will benefit the local economy.'

The work, which will take place during 2006 and 2007, has been made possible by several generous grants from organisations: through the European Regional Development Fund, the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Gillman Trusts and the Friends of Strathbeg, a local group which raises funds through bird food sales.
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