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Nature fund awards £47,500 to manage water levels at RSPB Scotland Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve

By Kirsty Brown

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The nature reserve near Crimond is Britain's largest dune loch, and a vital wintering spot for up to a fifth of the world's pink-footed geese.

It's also home to a wide variety of wetland wildlife, such as breeding terns and gulls, migrating wading birds and wintering wildfowl.

RSPB Scotland has been awarded £47,500 to install a new tilting sluice on the Savoch Burn, which is the main feed into the Loch of Strathbeg.

Site Manager at Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve Richard Humpidge said: “There has been quite a lot of phosphate entering the loch through this burn and the sluice will enable us to control water flow better to reduce this.

"Excess phosphate affects the water, meaning it isn’t suitable for some of the wildlife that live in and around the loch.

"Because of the reduced water flow we will also instal a solar powered pump to keep our adjacent wetlands nice and wet, perfect for species such as pink-footed geese.

"I have been working on this project since about 2014 so it is really nice seeing it coming to fruition.

"This will benefit all the thousands of wintering ducks and swans as well as improving habitat for breeding waders.”

The Scottish Government’s annual Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot, funds projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities.

These projects will take practical steps to help against the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss and restore Scotland’s natural environment.

The award at RSPB Scotland Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve is one of 46 successful projects across Scotland to share the additional almost £5,000,000 committed in this round of the Nature Restoration Fund.

The projects will take practical steps to improve natural habitats, safeguard plant and animal species and improve biodiversity.

The 2022 Nature Restoration Fund adds to the many millions of pounds of Scottish Government funding granted through the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, Scottish Rural Development Programme, the 2021 Nature Restoration Fund, and other sources to support biodiversity and help to deliver Scotland’s Biodiversity Strategy.

Biodiversity Minister, Lorna Slater, said: “We know that transformative change is needed in order to protect and restore terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity in Scotland.

"That’s why we established the £65 million Nature Restoration Fund for projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas.

“These diverse, innovative projects are already bringing benefits across the country - not only to the environment, but also to the health and wellbeing of local communities.

“The Nature Restoration Fund is just one of the ways we are demonstrating our commitment to tackling biodiversity loss and restoring nature for future generations.

"Later this year we will publish an ambitious new biodiversity strategy which aims to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.”

NatureScot CEO Francesca Osowska said: “We are all now more aware than ever before of the urgency of the climate change emergency, but there is hope.

"By restoring nature, protecting and enhancing habitats and safeguarding marine life, we can secure a better future for nature and for ourselves.

“Scotland is taking action now to meet the huge challenges and pressures that nature is facing; it is individual projects like the ones funded today that will make the difference and set us on the road to recovery.

“Climate change needs nature-based solutions, not only to help us reach net zero by 2045 but also to create a healthier, more resilient Scotland.”

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