South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth recently visited Powfoot to learn more about the newly launched Species on the Edge project.
The project is a partnership programme of NatureScot and seven conservation charities, all dedicated to improving the fortunes of 37 priority species found along Scotland’s coast and islands.
With over £6 million of funding, including £4 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, together the Species on the Edge partner organisations are delivering a programme of conservation activity to tackle the impacts of environmental change on wildlife, to benefit both nature and people.
Two Species on the Edge project officers are based on the Solway Coast in Dumfries and Galloway for the duration of the four-and-a-half-year project, working closely with landowners and local communities to help conserve their local species.
Colin Smyth met with Liam Templeton, Species on the Edge Project Officer with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, who is working closely on natterjack toads, Scotland’s rarest amphibian.
The local MSP said: “This project is a fantastic example of partnership working and it was great to be able to go to Powfoot and learn more about the aims and ambitions of Species on the Edge.
“Powfoot is a very popular beach, both with locals and visitors, but not everyone knows how important the area is for local species such as natterjack toads.
“They are so rare and to have them living on our doorstep is a huge gift but we also need to respect them and learn more about what they need to thrive.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Liam for taking the time to meet with me and I will follow this project with interest.”
Liam said: “Natterjack toads were once locally abundant along the eastern Solway. Some local residents have even commented that chorusing males in spring made it feel like they were living in a tropical rainforest.
“Their numbers have declined dramatically over the last few decades due to changes in land use in combination with natural processes such as drought and sea-level rise.
“Species on the Edge is a fantastic opportunity to empower members of the community to play an active role in restoring this iconic species to its former glory and once again filling the summer air with its rapturous midnight croaking.”
The Species on the Edge partnership consists of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, NatureScot, Plantlife, and RSPB Scotland. Programme activity is spread across seven coastal and island areas in Scotland: Shetland; North Coast; East Coast; the Inner Hebrides and Argyll; the Outer Hebrides; Orkney; and Solway.
The Species on the Edge Solway team will be working with local communities to safeguard a range of species including: natterjack toad, Greenland white-fronted goose, red-billed chough, northern brown argus butterfly, tadpole shrimp, as well as terns, bats, and farmland waders. Project activities on the Solway will include species monitoring, habitat restoration, education and outreach events, volunteering opportunities, and training workshops.