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Caithness Field Club Bulletin

Progress with Biodiversity
(by Ken Butler)

In 1992 the government of the day signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was one of a package of outcomes from the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro. The government was quick off the mark with its own response to Article 6 of the Convention, which was to publish in January 1994 the UK Biodiversity Action Plan - known as the UKBAP for short.

The Earth Summit recognised that the earth was losing biological species at a fast rate as a result of human activity. Action at all levels, from international co-operation level to local community level, was needed to help species to survive. It also needs co-operation between various government agencies, support and help from non-government organisations, academics and help from local communities.

The UK-level plan to respond to the requirements now includes:
proposals to monitor 1252 biological species;
the production of action plans for 116 species and 14 habitats - later expanded to 391 species and 45
the requirement to have action plans at lower levels, right down to community level;
Help with the format and contents of local action plans;
Improving the quality and accessibility of data and biological recording, including a national species
  database and local record
Over 80 proposals to increase public awareness and foster education and training in biodiversity.

Responsibility for Biodiversity was devolved to Scotland and down to Highland Council. Highland Council prepared an Action Plan in January 2002.
Currently the Caithness BAP is being written by Highland Council with support from a Biodiversity Group of local people. I represent the Field Club on that group. The main features of the plan are:

the county is divided into six habitats which correspond to the national list of habitats - they are:
- sea & coast
- river, loch & wetland
- farm & croft
- forest & woodland
- bog, moor & hill
- town & village
for each habitat there is a list of rare, scarce or threatened species that need to be specifically
for each habitat the environmental issues and threats are discussed;
for each habitat there are proposals for action to make things better; these are translated into specific
  action plans where possible;
local "know your own patch" events are being organised to inform local people about the habitats
  around them and to recruit local action to improve things.

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