88% fear for future of Orkney's native wildlife if stoats remain
The results of an island-wide community consultation about the Orkney Native Wildlife Project were announced today, revealing overwhelming support for its proposal to protect Orkney’s internationally important wildlife.
The Orkney Native Wildlife Project, which is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland and has the generous support of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to protect Orkney’s native wildlife by removing stoats, an invasive non-native predator that was first recorded in Orkney in 2010.
Local people can be directly involved with the delivery of the project which will also provide and a range of training opportunities including wildlife monitoring, an educational programme, support for tourism providers and a range of activities.
Funding of £64,600 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a nine-month development phase to allow the partnership to consult widely with the local community and stakeholders and optimise the technical aspects of the eradication.
Between November and February, to gauge the level of local support for this project, a comprehensive consultation was carried out by the project.
This included face-to-face consultations at public drop-in sessions, talks and meetings with stakeholders including teachers and community groups. In addition, a questionnaire had almost 900 respondents from around Orkney, which is approximately four percent of the islands’ entire population.
The results indicated extensive support for Orkney’s wildlife. Ninety-two percent of people who completed a questionnaire believe that we have a duty to protect Orkney’s wildlife for future generations. Eighty-eight percent are worried about the decline in native wildlife if stoats are not removed from the islands and eighty-four percent thought it was important to eradicate stoats from Orkney.
Information gathered from each element of the consultation is now being used to develop the plans for the implementation phase of the project. This development of the Orkney Native Wildlife Project would not been possible without the generous support of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Graham Neville is an Operations Manager for Scottish Natural Heritage and manages the project partnership. Speaking on behalf of the Orkney Native Wildlife Project, Graham said: “We would all like to thank everyone for their feedback throughout the consultation process. This has been both overwhelmingly positive and invaluable in providing guidance for the next stages of the project”.
During the consultation process, Orkney Islands Council, agreed to become a key project partner. Councillor Graham Sinclair, chair of Orkney Islands Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “As Orcadians, we are proud of our environment and the wildlife that make our islands such a special place to live and to visit. I welcome the excellent work of SNH and RSPB Scotland in drawing in significant external funding for this project. We will continue to engage with them as they take forward this important project.”
SNH Chairman, Mike Cantlay, said: “I am delighted to see our work on this project in Orkney getting such a significant vote of approval from the people of Orkney. There are many environmental and social reasons why nature is important to all our lives. In Orkney, the rich and unique wildlife is one of the key features which attract visitors to these magnificent islands, so there is also a strong economic reason for safeguarding it for future generations”.
Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “Orkney is an incredibly important place for wildlife and as such eradicating stoats has been identified as the most urgently required island restoration project in the UK. It’s wonderful that Orcadians have shown such strong support for Orkney’s wildlife and the Orkney Native Wildlife Project. We look forward to working in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, Orkney Islands Council and communities across Orkney to safeguard the future of the Orkney vole and the many internationally important populations of birds that call Orkney home”.
People can keep up to date with the Orkney Native Wildlife Project, including their weekly ‘Stoat Snippets’ on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project Facebook page.
Last Updated: Thursday 19 April 2018