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The Sutherland Biodiversity Action Plan - October 2003

Major gaps and constraints
A major constraint to the production of this plan was the lack of a biodiversity audit summarising available information on habitats and species for Sutherland. The Highlands lack a properly funded and staffed Biological Record Centre, and there are enormous gaps in our knowledge of the biodiversity
of Sutherland.

A major obstacle to land managers wishing to undertake biodiversity projects is the complexity of environmental and forestry grant schemes, as well as the lack of resources available for agrienvironmental works.

How much can we do locally?
It is true that some of the most pressing threats to the biological richness of Sutherland may seem to be due to forces that are out of our control.  Examples include global climate change, changes to agricultural support mechanisms, shipping and West Atlantic oil exploration. Some species, notably salmon, cetaceans and migratory birds, may be threatened by actions taken in other parts of their range.

Solutions to these problems must be agreed at national and even international levels. However, this should encourage us to do the best we can within those activities that we do control, or from using our voice to call on those who could make national and international agreements.  Whilst we have divided the Plan into six broad habitat types for administrative reasons, the land and water of Sutherland should be managed together. That said, we should be careful of generalising for an area the size of Sutherland, what might improve biodiversity in Central Sutherland may not be applicable for the East Coast. As a guiding principle, land managers are encouraged to consider the impacts actions have on all the habitats within the river catchment.

Ox-eye daisy

Next steps
This plan has been prepared under the auspices of the Highland Biodiversity Project, which is a two year project led by The Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise and RSPB Scotland. The partner organisations have agreed to work towards a second phase of the Highland Biodiversity Project focusing on the delivery of a range of Highland-wide projects and initiatives, and it is hoped that this second phase could begin in 2004. In the meantime, it is envisaged that the partners listed above and in the ‘Future Actions’ sections of this report will work towards the delivery of many of the outputs suggested in the ‘Future actions’ sections.