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      Stornoway, Broadbay & Lochs news

      North & West Lewis News

Island-based initiatives to give nature a chance feature in the shortlist for 2023’s Nature of Scotland awards, due to be presented in November.

Saving seabirds, restoring peatlands, keeping an eye on cetaceans and using cattle management to help protect corncrakes are among the projects picked by judges in the award shortlist, co-sponsored by NatureScot and the RSPB.

The biosecurity for life project, which has been working in islands including the Shiants, the Flannan Isles, St Kilda, Mingulay and Sula Sgeir, has been shortlisted for the coasts and waters award for efforts to protect native seabirds from invasive species like rats, hedgehogs and mink.

Biosecurity officers created biosecurity plans with island owners and managers, giving detailed advice on ways invasive predators might reach each island and tailored strategies to prevent them.

Also shortlisted for the coasts and waters award is the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s (HWDT) research vessel Silurian, which has been on a 20-year voyage of citizen science to protect Hebridean whales.

An HWDT spokesperson said: “The project celebrates the contribution over a thousand people have made to protecting our seas.

“A recognisable and familiar presence in the Hebrides, Silurian and her dedicated citizen scientists monitor important areas for whales, dolphins and porpoises, helping to protect the marine life found in Scotland’s seas for future generations.”

In the category of landscape restoration awards, NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION project has been shortlisted, in recognition of work done restoring native landscape for the benefit of nature.

Carloway Estate Trust is one of the organisations hosting project workers who use restoration techniques to stabilise peat and restore the hydrology of peatland – for example by installing peat dams in man-made ditches to allow peat-building mosses to re-establish.

Under the food and farming award category, Ness crofter Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween has hosted shortlisted project Corncrake Calling in a trial of fenceless grazing for cattle.

Sweeny offered his cattle for conservation grazing at Loch Stiapabhat reserve, where Shona Morrison, Lewis corncrake warden, said RSPB Scotland had entered into a 10-year management agreement with Urras Oighreachd Gabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) to manage the habitat for waders and especially the corncrake.

The awards will be presented on 22 November at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, at a ceremony hosted by zoologist, wildlife TV presenter and RSPB ambassador Megan McCubbin and TV presenter and nature enthusiast JJ Chalmers.

Pictures show peatland reclamation work under way (NatureScot) and Sweeny’s cattle grazing without fences near Loch Stiapabhat (RSPB).