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Biodiversity in Crofting Connections
Posted: 09/05/2014

Scotland’s Biodiversity is being celebrated from 17th to 25th May this year and Scottish Natural Heritage has made this year’s theme “Love Life, Love Nature”.

http://www.biodiversityscotland.gov.uk/area/naturefestival/about/theme/

Much of the UK’s high nature value farmland is found in crofting areas.  The crofter has always worked closely with the natural environment, mostly using low-input, low density agricultural and fishing practices, to provide food, shelter, energy and clothing for the family and the local community.

Over the centuries, crofting has helped to shape the land to create an important mosaic of wildlife habitats, some designated for their international importance, such as machair, peatland, blackland, heather moor and grazed wooodland in some of Scotland’s most distinctive landscapes.

It is the aim of the project to help children understand;  the need for protection and sustainable use of peat-lands as valuable carbon stores and wildlife habitats, to appreciate the need to conserve natural habitats of land, rivers and seas, for the benefit of wildlife and wild fish stocks, and the need to reduce the impact of high density livestock farming and fish farming on animal health, wildlife and the environment.

A mother red squirrel carrying her rather large baby to a new drey in an area where there are a large number of pine martens


Crofting Connections helps children learn about biodiversity in some very practical concrete ways.

  • We provide seeds for open-pollinating vegetables and flowers encouraging local pollinators into school gardens.  Schools this year received seeds which will harvest into rainbow of vegetables and flowers.  The ‘Rainbow Harvest’ supporting documents help with garden practices that encourage biodiversity
  • Children learn about the importance of preserving Scottish wild and domesticated bee species and other pollinators; we supply ‘make your own bee model’ packs from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust,  leaflets about butterflies in the Highlands and Islands, and general ID guides for flowers, insects and birds
  • We provide seed saving guidelines for the cereals, vegetables and heritage tattie varieties we supply to help learn about the importance of preserving plant varieties (especially traditional crofter crops) to help maintain a broad ‘living genebank’ and contribute to a healthy biodiversity in Scotland
  • We provide equipment (environment pack, Soil testing kits, ID guides) to help increase awareness of nature and its biodiversity Bee on phacelia Borage flowers attracting a butterfly Butterfly Bee on a poppy flower The Highlands and Islands are rich in biodiversity, but often low in records of wildlife counts. SNH have summarized Scottish native and non-native species and what steps they are taking to either preserve or control populations in their Species Action Plan.  Posters for each of these are available here http://www.snhconferencesandevents.org/poster-downloads.html
      Many of our schools help to take care of the biodiversity of the local community by contributing to surveys of a wide range of species.  We will soon post stories of what our schools have been up to not only in Biodiversity week but throughout the year.