Work to improve the natural environment in a uniquely special part of the northwest highlands has been given a major funding boost, it was announced today. It's a pretty ambitious project.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has been awarded a £3 million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund for its Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) project. One of the largest projects of its kind in Europe, this seeks to bring the local community together around a shared 40-year vision to manage a range of resilient natural habitats, while boosting tourism, training and employment and building on the area's strong cultural heritage linked to the land.
Working with major landowners, the aim is to improve the quality of habitats and ecosystems at the' landscape scale'. According to SWT this will help 'iconic' species such as golden eagle, wildcat and otter, while at the same time bringing social and economic benefits too.
The grant, which includes £100,000 development funding, will help enhance the landscape of Coigach and Assynt by regenerating the remaining native Atlantic oak woods, restoring peatlands and improving paths.
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, Colin McLean, explained the reason behind such a large grant:
'Nature lies at the very heart of what makes Scotland special and nowhere is that more evident than the astounding scenery of Coigach-Assynt' he said.
'However, the enormous pressures upon these landscapes mean that we have to tackle their restoration and conservation on a bigger scale than ever before.'
'The Landscape Partnership programme does just that, and more.'
'It brings real cohesion to the natural and built heritage of the region, while reconnecting its communities with the nature that lies on their doorstep.'
Project Manager of the Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape (CALL), Viv Halcrow, said:
'This ...will have a great impact across the whole Coigach - Assynt Living Landscape.'
'It would not only benefit the environment, but will help to increase integration between communities, landowners, and organisations.'
For more info on the project see the CALL website.