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The Sutherland Biodiversity Action Plan - October 2003
Section 1

Vision statement
“The use by man of the land and water of Sutherland will be guided by the concept
that our grandchildren shall inherit a better countryside than we possess today.”

Key biodiversity objectives for Sutherland

  •  Ensure that all habitats are managed in a way that takes account of their wildlife interests.

  • Undertake a biodiversity audit of the wildlife of Sutherland, starting with a literature search to
    identify gaps in our knowledge and draw together existing regional and local recording projects.

  • Raise awareness of the biodiversity of Sutherland, facilitate easy access to information about
    important species and habitats, and encourage the collection of further information.

  •  Encourage nature-based tourism through the provision of local facilities and services.

  • Discourage the import of new species into the area unless the species was indigenous and can offer a positive contribution to the current biodiversity.

  • Identify threatened species and / or areas, and encourage their conservation.

  • Encourage and support small and large community-led biodiversity projects to enhance local habitats and ensure they are adequately resourced and publicised.

  • Enhance biodiversity in Sutherland by supporting the diversification and improvement of woodlands,
    and the improved habitat management of rivers and open moorland.

Key biodiversity targets for Sutherland
The Sutherland Biodiversity Group has suggested one key target for each broad habitat type, listed below.

  • To work with local communities towards the designation and management of a Marine Reserve
    within inshore waters in Sutherland.

  • To map the distribution of all national and local priority freshwater species and habitats, and manage all of Sutherland’s watercourses accordingly.

  • To enable up to 50% of Sutherland’s farm and croft land to be managed for biodiversity under agrienvironment schemes such as the Rural Stewardship Scheme or Whole-Farm Agreements.

  •  To bring 1000 ha of native woodland into management (e.g. by reducing grazing), and expand the
    native woodland area by a further 1000 ha through natural regeneration.

  • To bring 50% of Sutherland’s moorland into positive management under an agreed deer management plan, muirburning plan or management agreement.

  • To encourage five of the larger towns and villages in Sutherland to undertake an audit of their

  • To use the whole 400,000 acres of the Dornoch Firth basin as a model for the practice and
    demonstration of prudent land use throughout the Highlands involving crofters, farmers, foresters,
    water bailiffs and stalkers.

  • To complete coverage of the Highland Council Ranger Service within Sutherland by securing a ranger post in North Sutherland.

General actions
A number of future actions have been suggested for each broad habitat, but there were a few suggestions arising from the consultation exercise that are more general ideas or common to many habitats, and they are listed below.

  • Undertake scientific research to support anecdotal evidence of local people regarding the environmental impacts of certain activities, to be used to demonstrate the need for changes in use or to build an enhanced case for funding for local projects.

  • Employ a biodiversity education officer for one year to hold a workshop road show in the village halls for children and adults, raise awareness of local wildlife and get feedback on how attitudes are changing.

  • Employ at least one permanent full-time biodiversity officer or ecologist within The Highland Council to make significant long-term improvements.

  • Hold one-day workshops for crofters, farmers, shepherds and keepers on various subjects relating to biodiversity.

  • Produce an annual newspaper for Sutherland biodiversity issues.

  • Encourage dog owners to keep dogs on leads to reduce disturbance to ground-nesting birds, and introduce ‘dog toilets’ at the entrance to community parks and woodlands, backed up by hefty fines for owners that permit their dogs to foul recreational areas.

What can you do?
Everyone can do their bit for biodiversity and the environment, whether it is on the farm or croft, in the garden or down at the shops! Here are some examples of how you can help:

Get involved

  • Find out about your local environment and take part in local environmental projects.

  • Become one of the BTCV Scotland’s Highland volunteers (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers)

  • Join your local Field or Bird Club, and take part in surveys or projects.

  • Send all wildlife records to the Highland Biological Recording Group.

  •  Keep biodiversity high on the political agenda by writing to your MSP, MP or MEP.

Reduce pollution

  •  Dispose of hazardous substances wisely.

  • Pick up litter and encourage people not to drop litter.

  • Use less bleach and harmful cleaning products at home and in the garden.

  • Use biodegradable cleaning products and washing powder.

  • Don’t flush non-biodegradable items down the toilet.

Garden for wildlife

  • Compost all your garden and vegetable waste.

  • Buy alternatives to peat based products.

  • Plant native species that will provide food and shelter all year round for wildlife.

  • If you have space, dig a pond.

  • Leave a ‘wild bit’ - long grass, nettles and other weeds can be good for butterflies.

  • Grow your own vegetables, and grow to organic principles.

  •  Put up nest boxes and bat boxes, and build log or stone piles for insects. Don’t forget the larger, global issues such as reducing waste and using less energy:

Reduce waste

  •  Buy products that will last as long as possible, with as little packaging as possible.

  • Re-use your shopping bags and take a strong bag with you when you go shopping.

  •  Re-use and recycle things as much as possible.

  • Buy recycled and locally sourced products when you can.

  • Make sure any wood products you buy carry an accredited certification logo, such as the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council).

Use less energy

  • Reduce heat loss by insulating your house well.

  • Use low-energy light-bulbs and turn the TV off when you’re not watching it.

  • Buy energy efficient appliances when you renew old ones.

  • Try to use your car as little as possible.