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15 May 2002
See Highland Biodiversity Pages set up 16 May 2002

Caithness and Sutherland will pilot a new process aimed at improving  biodiversity in the North this summer. The process will involve the  production of local biodiversity action plans as well as a series of  awareness raising events and practical works to improve the diversity of  the flora and fauna in the two areas.

To get the ball rolling, more than 100 people have been invited to attend  biodiversity workshops in Thurso and Lairg. The workshops will help  identify locally important habitats and species, and list key issues and  opportunities for their continued survival or enhancement.

 Thereafter, local groups will be asked to oversee the production of the  plans, run the awareness-raising events, and start work on a number of  practical works aimed at enhancing the biodiversity of the North. The  events will be targeted at small communities that express an interest in  finding out more about their own environment.

The plans will be non-technical booklets, which, together with plans for  the other areas, will provide a strategy for future biodiversity work in  Highland.

 Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council's Sustainable  Development Select Committee said: "The workshops are just the start. They  will be followed by local events and works through the summer, and we hope  the plans will be produced by late autumn.

 "The emphasis is on action - the plans will tell us what people value most  from their local environment, and give us a list of practical ideas on  which to focus our attentions in the future. We're also looking for  projects to get off the ground this summer, and we have a small  implementation fund to support community-based biodiversity projects."

 Part funded by the Highlands and Islands Special Transitional Programme,  the Highland Biodiversity Project contributes to Local Agenda 21, an  initiative to promote sustainable development backed by The Highland  Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise,  Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise and the RSPB.

 Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Janet Bromham,  Highland Biodiversity Project Officer at The Highland Council,  Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on 01463 702274, e-mail:

Biodiversity, short for 'biological diversity', is a relatively new word that has been coined to express the richness of nature or variety of life.  It came into use after the UK government signed up to the Convention on Biological Diversity at the Earth Summit in Rio di Janeiro in 1992.  Local authorities and others are being encouraged to take local action to promote biodiversity, to compliment national action programmes.