Comhairle highlights biodiversity achievements

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The second progress report on implementation of the Western Isles Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) for the period 2007 to 2011 was published by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar at the Local Action, Global Impact Showcase Event held at Sgoil nan Loch last Thursday.

Implementation of the action plans is the responsibility of a range of organisations and agencies many of which are represented on the LBAP Steering Group.

Phase 1 of the LBAP was launched in May 2004 and this was followed by phase 2 which was launched in August 2005. A first progress report for the period from May 2004 to January 2007 was published in December 2007.

The second progress report highlights the many achievements over the last 8 years in implementing the action plans. These include the management of land to the benefit of habitats and species through a number of schemes and initiatives e.g. SRDP – Rural Development Contracts (RDC) and Land Managers Options (LMO), arable stack scheme, RSPB corncrake schemes and the Conserving Scottish Machair LIFE+ Project. However there have also been issues and constraints which have hindered implementation of actions and delivery of action plan targets such as lack of resources.

Efforts have been made to raise awareness of biodiversity and to encourage local involvement in the biodiversity process. Events and activities have been organised annually to coincide with Scottish Biodiversity Week. In addition the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity was celebrated at a selection of Gala Days, Games and Agricultural Shows across the islands. The summer programme of shows provided the opportunity for local groups to work in partnership to celebrate biodiversity.

As well as highlighting key achievements, the results of monitoring of the species and habitat action plan objectives and targets are summarised in the report. Many of the LBAP actions are implemented through agri-environment schemes such as SRDP – Rural Priorities and it is clear that continued support for such schemes is vital for maintaining and enhancing biodiversity.

Lastly the future approach to biodiversity management is considered. The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy along with the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy encourages the wider use of an Ecosystems Approach. The Ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. An ecosystem approach to delivering biodiversity action allows action to be taken at a larger scale than just a single species or habitat and means that the needs of people are included at the same time.

The Western Isles LBAP Steering Group will be considering an approach for Biodiversity Action in the Western Isles after 2014 when Phase 1 of action plans is to be reviewed. The Comhairle would welcome your views on how this approach can be achieved locally.

A copy of the report is available to view online at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/biodiversity/progressreport0711.asp or are council offices.