Islanders in South Uist are to make an application to a Scottish Government fund designed to tackle climate change, following a meeting with Environment and Climate Change minister Stewart Stevenson.
Mr Stevenson visited the island yesterday (Thu 26 July) to see the work done by volunteers from the Lochboisdale Amenity Trust (LAT) to protect their coastline.
Over the last year, the LAT has been running a community-led project to plant trees, create sand blow fencing and strengthen sandbanks. The LAT are also working to improve the island’s drainage systems to protect low-lying land from flooding.
They now hope to carry on with their work and extend it to cover North Uist, Barra and Vatersay. They have already secured £40,000 from Oxfam Unwrapped.
During his visit, Mr Stevenson praised the work done by the LAT and he has now invited them to apply to the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.
Seumas MacDonald of the LAT said: “We were very pleased to welcome the minister to South Uist. We were able to show him first-hand the impact climate change is having on Uist and the work we’ve been doing as a community to protect our coastline, our homes and our livelihoods.
“We will now work with Oxfam to prepare an application to the Climate Challenge Fund so that this vital work can continue.”
Jim Boyle of Oxfam Scotland said: “From our work around the world, Oxfam knows that it is the poorest and most vulnerable communities who are most-affected by the impact of climate change.
“The work done by the LAT and the people of South Uist is a great example of how communities can come up with solutions to problems that are both innovative and sustainable.
“We think this is a model that communities in Scotland and elsewhere could learn from. We certainly believe it merits support through the Climate Challenge Fund and look forward to working with the Scottish Government in the future.”
During the meeting, Oxfam called on the minister to carry out research into how climate change adaptation funding is being spent in Scotland, so as to make sure it is being spent in a way that is effective and meets the needs of the communities most at risk.
Commenting after his visit Mr Stevenson said:
“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to visit Daliburgh and see first hand the coastal erosion that is taking place there, as well as some of the measures put in place by the local community to protect the site from further coastal erosion.
“The sand dunes across the coastline are very fragile and the local community, including the Lochboisdale Amenity Trust, have been working with Oxfam Scotland to take action by recreating sand dunes using old fishing nets, fence posts and old fencing.
“Without action there is risk of further erosion and an increased risk of flooding so the work is vitally important to the area.”
Pictured are Stewart Stevenson with Seumas MacDonald (crofter) and Don Macphee, Chair of Lochboisdale Amenity Trust.