Highland Environment Forum launches new plan to help Nature and Wildlife
23rd September 2015
A new plan to help wildlife was launched today (23 September) at the Highland Environment Forum's September meeting in Inverness.
Highland Nature: The Biodiversity Action Plan will help target resources to address 33 wildlife priorities which have been identified under headings ranging from the sustainable management of habitats and species, to taking biodiversity into account during building and maintenance works, to delivering local projects, raising awareness, tackling invasive non-native species and improving the management and sharing of biological records.
The Highland Biodiversity Forum (HEF) is made up of nearly 50 organisations, groups and bodies that have come together to foster and co-ordinate environmental activity across Highland.
Chairperson George Hogg said: "This revision is the result of much discussion and thinking by many people across Highland. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its development. The challenge for all of us now is to get on and deliver it!"
This is the third Highland Biodiversity Action Plan. It provides an update on progress made to deliver the last Plan. Over half (13/24) of the projects proposed have been delivered or are underway making good progress, with key successes being made under the headings of invasive non-native species and awareness-raising.
Projects to control Rhododendron, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, Giant hogweed and American mink have been taking place across Highland. The Highland Invasive Species Forum helps partners to share good practice and plan future work to achieve the greatest effect.
The Highland Seashore Project is also noteworthy as a very successful awareness-raising project. The project is due to end in December 2015, and it is hoped that further funding can be found to build on its successes through a future project focusing on the wider marine environment.
The new Plan identifies 33 priorities for future work. For each, a number of projects have been identified, with a lead partner taking on the responsibility to work with other HEF members to deliver action over the next five years.
Some projects are already underway or can be delivered through existing work programmes. Others will require additional funding and resources. Progress will be reported back to the Highland Environment Forum annually, along with reasons for any delay.
It is hoped that by working together the partners will be able to improve habitats, protect species, raise awareness and provide support for groups and volunteers wishing to help Highland's wildlife.
The Plan can be viewed by visiting www.highlandbiodiversity.com. Paper copies are available from Biodiversity Officers Jonathan Willet and Janet Bromham, tel 01463 702274 e-mail janet.bromham[AT]highland.gov.uk.
Local Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) are tools in a process that aims to protect and enhance biodiversity through working together to identify and prioritise issues, and then deliver projects to address them. They also aim to influence local strategic planning decisions and policy development.
The Highland Council and partners started this process back in 2002. Local BAPs were produced for the Council's seven administrative areas, and the first Highland-wide BAP was produced in 2006.
Badenoch & Strathspey was not included in this process as it is already covered by the Cairngorms Biodiversity Action Plan, now ‘Cairngorms Nature’, which is administered through the National Park Authority. The Park Authority is represented on the Highland Environment Forum and has fed into the development of this Plan.
This is the third Highland Biodiversity Action Plan. It provides an update on progress made since 2002, identifies the key strategic biodiversity issues that exist in Highland today, and proposes a range of future actions or projects that the Highland Environment Forum (HEF) would like to undertake by 2020.
In Autumn 2013 HEF replaced the Highland Biodiversity Partnership as the primary forum for discussing strategic biodiversity issues across Highland.
It is made up of representatives from nearly 50 organisations, groups and bodies that have come together to foster and co-ordinate environmental activity across Highland as part of the Community Planning Partnership. These are the partners that will be responsible for delivering this Highland Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Highland Biodiversity Action Plan was drawn up by a HEF Working Group comprising representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage, Local Biodiversity Groups, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Highland Biological Recording Group and the National Trust for Scotland, with assistance from The Highland Council.
Highland Environment Forum Chairman George Hogg, Kenna Chisholm from the RSPB, Janet Bromham, Highland Biodiversity Officer, Nicola Wallace, Highland Council Environment Manager, Depute Chair of Planning, Development and Infrastructure Cllr Matthew Reiss and Shona Turnbull, Coastal Planning Officer with Highland Council.