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06 May, 2014

Go-ahead for Central Belt nature project

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has received the green light for a £2.3 million LIFE project

This exciting new project will be led by SNH but is a cooperative effort between eight conservation organisations to restore, create and improve natural habitats and wildlife corridors throughout the Central Belt.

The four-year EcoCo Life project will run from summer 2014 to summer 2018, and will enrich and connect wildlife and habitats throughout the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area, improving the quality of the water environment, securing flood management, and providing social and economic benefits throughout the region.

The LIFE project, which is funded through the European Commission, will involve SNH, RSPB, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative. LIFE is funding 50% (£1.16million) of the project costs.

A number of areas have already 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, a wetland restoration project at Cambus Pools, and the East Ayrshire Coalfield Environment Initiative area. Management work will range from restoring the beds and banks of rivers, 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.

Phil Baarda, SNH land use and woodland advisor, said: "We're delighted that this LIFE project will be going ahead. The project has a fantastic range of partners: working together, we can make a lasting difference to the Central Belt's wildlife. In a heavily populated area like the Central Belt, it's important to make sure that habitats are connected so wildlife can move about easily and be more resilient. We also want to make sure that these areas are improved, so people can enjoy them as well."

Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, said:

"This is fantastic news for both people and nature across central Scotland and will help us to transform the area into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and where people's lives are enriched by its quality.

"The project will help nature and wildlife and will also deliver multiple social and economic benefits for local communities, including reducing flood risk, improving water quality, enhancing the central belt's sense of place, and boosting the skills and confidence of the volunteers involved. I congratulate SNH and all the delivery partners on securing this very welcome investment."

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

Notes to editors

The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) will change the face of Central Scotland, by restoring and transforming the landscape of an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east. The CSGN is a national development within the National Planning Framework which aims to make a significant contribution to Scotland's sustainable economic development'. It involves public agencies and stakeholders working together to align their policies, programmes and actions to achieve a common aim.

Funding for the project includes:

SNH - £520,576

Butterfly Conservation - £14,647

Buglife - £193,921

EACEI - £139,117

RSPB - £160,944

SEPA - £79,364

SWT - £12,606

Lafarge (co-finance) £44,433

LIFE £1,165,610

TOTAL - £2,331,221

Contact information

SNH Media

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. So that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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