In summer 2014, the CEI was awarded funding from LIFE for peatland conservation work in the Coalfields as part of the EcoCo LIFE project (full title is “implementation of integrated habitat networks to improve ecological coherence across the Central Scotland Green Network”).
This exciting project is being led by Scottish Natural Heritage but is a partnership project between eight conservation organisations to restore, create and improve natural habitats and wildlife corridors across Scotland’s Central Belt.
The four-year EcoCo LIFE project will run from summer 2014 to summer 2018, and will improve and connect wildlife and habitats, benefitting wildlife populations, contributing to improved natural flood management and reduced pollution, and providing social and economic benefits throughout the region.
The LIFE project, which is funded through the European Commission, will involve SNH, RSPB, SEPA, SWT, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative. LIFE is funding 50% (£1.16million) of the £2.3million project costs.
A number of areas have been identified for improvement, including Flanders Moss, Blawhorn Moss, the Inner Forth, the Baronshaugh RSPB reserve, the Whitesands quarry, the Slammanan Plateau, the Garnock Valley, sites within the Glazert water catchment and the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative area (including Airds Moss SAC/RSPB Reserve and Tappetill Moss). Management work will range from creating new wetlands, reed bed management and ditch blocking on raised bogs to tree planting and retrofitting green roofs in agricultural and industrial areas.
The project was singled out by LIFE because of the innovative methods which will be used to choose which areas to improve: methods will include habitat mapping and modelling but will also bring a range of stakeholder together, including scientists, landowners, planners and local communities, to evaluate natural, social and economic benefits. Another part of the project’s innovation is to trial a low-ground pressure all-terrain vehicle to access sensitive and very wet peatlands and wetlands for management work.
The European Commission approved funding for 225 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union’s environment fund, including the EcoCo Life project, on April 30. The projects selected were submitted by beneficiaries in all 28 member states and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across the EU. Overall, they represent a total investment of some €589.3 million, of which the EU will provide €282.6 million. For more information, see the official project summary and the EcoCo LIFE website.