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Restoration underway at iconic Old Man of Storr

News release – Thursday 30 September 2021

 

Seed collection begins on Isle of Skye historical site

 

The Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS), Scotland’s leading environmental charity promoting sustainable public access, has begun trialling seed cutting and collection techniques on one of the Isle of Skye’s most famous and iconic sites, the Old Man of Storr, in an effort to restore the surrounding land to its original status.

Trialling these techniques on the land’s species rich grassland will allow OATS to identify the best cutting system ahead of scaling up the operation for next season.

The trials, which have taken place over a number of days and involved hand cutting, strimming and vacuuming up the seed from the land, will play a crucial role in informing the project of the best system to use going forward. After preparing the bare areas, the Access Trust will distribute the collected seeds to establish the reintroduction of certain species to the area, previously lost from the pressure of visitor footfall. This will restore habitat on a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, stabilise the bare areas from wind and rain erosion and make it more visually appealing for visitors to the island.

Dougie Baird, CEO of OATS said; “Skye is a global destination for international visitors keen to experience and relish in its beauty but, as we’ve seen many times before, an increase in visitor numbers comes at a cost. As an environmental organisation we aim to protect and develop the incredible sites Skye has so the public can enjoy everything the island has to offer, sustainably.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to learn more about the land on one of Skye’s most famous and busiest walking routes. The seed collection is the first step in allowing us to capture the information we require in order to successfully restore the land and offer a solution that works for everyone. We can’t wait for the restoration to get fully underway.”

The habitat restoration activity is just the beginning of extensive work planned by The Skye Iconic Sites Project (SISP) which will see habitat restoration at the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools and the Quiraing, new bridges at the Fairy Pools, new paths at the Quiriang and Fairy Pools, and interpretation across the three sites. The extensive work aims to improve the visitor experience and achieve sustainable management of remote but popular locations on the island which are suffering as a result of the huge growth in tourism at Skye’s iconic landmarks.

SISP is part of a new almost £9 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and Islands to provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is led by NatureScot and is part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas and create and sustain jobs, businesses and services in local communities. The purpose of the fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in a way that conserves and protects them.

As the project delivery partner, the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland were successful in applying to the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund. Partnership funding from OATS, Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA), Highland Council and the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID), matched a £650,516 grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), culminating in a total of £929,308 of funds. The project is overseen by the SISP Partnership Group who in addition to the funding partners include SkyeConnect and Staffin Community Trust (SCT).

After this year’s trials the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland aim to have habitat restoration works start in earnest at the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and Fairy Pools in August next year. Completion is scheduled for autumn of next year.

 

Notes

The Skye Iconic Sites Project has a total budget of just under £1 million, having received £650,516 from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF), led by NatureScot and part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Additional partnership funding was secured from the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) (£98,793), Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Division (SGRPID) (£150,000), the Minginish Community Hall Association (£20,000), and Highland Council (£10,000).

The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) is part of the Scottish Government’s current European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme, which runs through to 2023.

 

About NatureScot and the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund

The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with an almost £9 million investment in the Highlands and Islands. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will invest in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to: provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets; encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas; and create and sustain jobs, businesses and services in local communities. The purpose of the Fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in a way that conserves and protects them.

The natural heritage includes natural habitats and wildlife, geology and landscapes. Cultural heritage includes history, language, architecture, ancient monuments, historical sites and cultural landscapes and the sectors of theatre, arts and literature. There is a close link between these two and interests often overlap. They are important locally, and on a national and international scale.

They provide opportunities for the cultural and creative industries, environmental and tourism sectors.

The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme.  For further information, visit their website or follow @scotgovESIF.

NatureScot is Scotland’s nature agency.  We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit NatureScot website or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nature_scot.