AN island nature reserve is to be created as crofting estate land is transferred into community ownership on South Uist.
A total of 1100 hectare of land at Loch Druidibeg on the island will become a wildlife haven after the Scottish Government rubber-stamped the plan.
Local group Storas Uibhist plans to create visitor facilities and improve access to the loch in partnership with conservation charity RSPB Scotland after taking ownership of the land from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for just £1.
It also aims to carry out habitat, goose and deer management and improve drainage and water quality.
Angus MacMillan, chair of Storas Uibhist, said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Storas Uibhist to work closely with SNH and RSPB to deliver meaningful environmental and habitat management in this area.
“The East coast of the Uists is often not appreciated for the diversity of wildlife. It is hoped that many people will visit the reserve, in addition to enhancing the economic opportunities that arise from nature tourism.”
SNH stopped managing the land as a National Nature Reserve in 2012.
David Maclennan, SNH area manager for Outer Hebrides and Argyll, said: “We are delighted approval is now in place to proceed with the transfer.
“As well as creating an opportunity for a new Nature Reserve in South Uist, this transfer is making a significant contribution to meeting the Scottish Government’s target of having one million acres of land in community ownership by 2020.”
Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would like to congratulate Storas Uibhist who are one of the first community groups to have a loch transferred into their ownership.
“The transfer provides a unique opportunity for the community trust, working in partnership with RSPB Scotland, to showcase its commitment and vision for the Loch and surrounding area.”
Reference list: Kirsteen Paterson. 2018. Retrieved from http://www.thenational.scot/news/16236415.Scottish_island_to_see_nature_reserve_created_following_community_ownership/?ref=twtrec