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13 October, 2017

SNH project to tackle species including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American mink boosted by National Lottery Funding

Scottish Natural Heritage’s Scottish Invasive Species Initiative awarded National Lottery support

A partnership project to encourage communities to tackle invasive non-native species such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American mink in their local area has received a major financial boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Scottish Natural Heritage has received a grant of £1.59 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative project, it was announced today. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the partnership project aims to establish community-based approaches to deal with non-native species in northern Scotland, working with 10 Fisheries Trusts/District Salmon Fisheries Boards and Aberdeen University. Invasive non-native species cost the Scottish economy at least £250 million each year.

To combat the impacts of invasive non-native species, the project team will work with communities to establish local management of specific priority species such as giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and American mink.  The target species will be managed in selected locations within a 29,500 km2 area of northern Scotland.  The project will focus on species associated with lochs and rivers, and aims to establish a volunteer network which will help to look after local freshwater biodiversity after the project has been completed.  Collaboration with charity Apex Scotland will provide a range of volunteering opportunities for offenders, ex-offenders and those recovering from addiction.  The project has also made links with the John Muir Trust to enable volunteers to work towards their John Muir Award through taking part in project activities.

Networks of rivers, burns, lochs and pools support much of northern Scotland’s biodiversity. This includes globally-endangered species, such as freshwater pearl mussel, whose lifecycle is inextricably linked and dependent on that of the iconic and economically important salmon and trout. These places also support other well-known species of conservation importance such as otter and water vole.  However, invasive non-native species in Scotland’s freshwater habitats are having a significant impact on biodiversity.  For example, predation from American mink is recognised as a principal factor in the crash of the water vole population in Scotland, the decline of which was one of the most serious of any British mammal during the 20th century.  Both plant and animal invasive non-native species often out-compete native flora and fauna, leading to a decline in the populations of native species.

Mike Cantlay, Chair of Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “The aim of this exciting and ambitious project is to raise awareness and understanding of invasive non-native species, biosecurity measures and the importance and sensitivity of our freshwater environment. Scotland’s fresh waters constitute more than 90% of the total volume of fresh waters in the United Kingdom and support a range of economic activities as well as ecosystem services such as drinking water, electricity generation and flood protection.

“This project will support us in working with local communities and organisations to help care for this precious resource. We’d like to thank National Lottery players for the funding which will help us to continue our work to create better places for people and nature across the whole of Scotland.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This funding is an opportunity to work with communities and get volunteers involved in controlling invasive non-native species and limit their impact on local areas.

“This is an important part of our work to enhance biodiversity and protect ecosystems across Scotland.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage, said: “This project is all about empowering local communities to help save Scotland’s treasured native habitats and species. Our natural heritage, vital to our survival, is under threat like never before.  Invasive non-native species pose one of the greatest threats to the our biodiversity and thanks to National Lottery players this project can really make a difference by both raising awareness of the issue and teaching people how to take direct action to help  our native species thrive,”

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative is a priority project in the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy’s route map to 2020. The route map sets out the major steps needed to improve the state of nature in Scotland and halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020. It highlights the spread of invasive species as one of the key pressures on biodiversity.


MEDIA CONTACT: Contact SNH Media on or  01463 725 022.  Please credit pictures to Scottish Natural Heritage.

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About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

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. We work to ensure 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

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


Mink Picture 2 credit SNH

Mink Picture 2 credit SNH

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