River and Fishery Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS) has received £41,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to begin developing the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) project, it was announced earlier this month. This grant will enable RAFTS to apply for a full grant at a later date.
This ambitious project will create a network of volunteers to eradicate and control several invasive non-native species across a 29,500 square km area in the north of Scotland, focussing on rivers, lochs and riparian corridors.
On top of managing these non-native species, the project aims to help local people to take care of their local rivers and riparian habitats. Volunteers, who will be recruited form a variety of community groups, will learn about the targeted species and gain skills in the various techniques used to survey and control them, such as spraying plants with pesticides or trapping mink. They and the wider public will also be encouraged to use specially-developed on line apps to identify and record where and when they see non-native invasive species. Volunteers will also learn how to restore sites that were previously full of non-native plants to a more native, natural state. By the end of the project, volunteers will have the skills and knowledge to conserve their local habitats long after the project is finished.
Scotland’s rivers, burns, lochs and pools support many iconic Scottish species like Atlantic salmon, osprey and otter, as well as the endangered freshwater pearl mussel. They also form part of an incredible landscape that attracts millions of tourists a year to Scotland, helping to boost our economy, and providing the country with vital services such as drinking water, electricity generation and flood protection.
Chris Horrill from RAFTS said, “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The threat of invasive species is increasing as our climate continues to change and this project will help us take action against this. It gives people in Scotland the opportunity to protect their natural environment and ensure we continue to benefit from it while maintaining its beauty.”
Julia Stubbs-Partridge from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), one of RAFTS partners in the project, said, “To receive this funding from HLF is great news. Invasive species are a growing threat and projects like this will ensure we can protect Scotland’s natural landscape, not only for the benefit of the people of Scotland but also for visitors.”
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative in developing a project that will encourage people to get involved in the natural world and in doing so, conserve it for future generations.”