Western Isles Biodiversity
The Partnership Approach
The biodiversity planning process is underpinned by the fundamental principle that the process needs to involve a wide range of sectors, organisations and individuals, some of whom may not have been previously involved in planning for nature conservation. The development of partnerships is essential for the successful implementation of the objectives and targets in the UK Action Plan and in particular for action at local level.
The key benefits of developing LBAP partnerships are:
- raised awareness; understanding of the process; disseminated information;
- shared workloads, resources, expertise and responsibilities; and
- joint 'ownership' of the plan.
In May 2001, the Comhairle agreed to the establishment of a Steering Group to progress the Western Isles LBAP.
Western Isles LBAP Steering Group
A local Steering Group has been established comprising representatives of key organisations and sectoral interests with a significant interest in biodiversity issues in the Western Isles. It is envisaged that these organisations and sectors will have a major role in delivering biodiversity objectives in the Western Isles.
Steering Group Composition
Role of the Steering Group
The role of the Steering Group is to direct the LBAP process, to take decisions on how to tackle the various steps involved, and, in due course, to ensure that the implementation of action plans is monitored. The Steering Group will aim to quantify the success of the LBAP and report this to the Scottish and UK level Steering Groups.
The Steering Group is also tasked with keeping other organisations, likely to have an interest in biodiversity, abreast of progress as the LBAP is developed. These include Community Councils, Western Isles Enterprise, Western Isles Tourist Board, Scottish Water and Chamber of Commerce.
In Scotland, Local Biodiversity Action Plans are being progressed by all the local authorities. The process of developing local action plans involves several distinct steps.
- The Comhairle agrees to establish a Steering Group, supported by an Audit Group.
- Steering Group should agree broad objectives while the Audit Group reviews the wildlife resource of the area within the national and local context and establishes a database.
- The Steering Group will consult with local people via a series of Public Meetings on Biodiversity.
- Together the Steering Group and Audit Group will identify priorities within the national and local context and develop species and habitat action plans with specific targets and proposals for action.
- The Steering Group should then identify appropriate mechanisms, sources of finance and advice in order to deliver the proposed actions and produce a draft plan.
The Comhairle, working with the Steering Group, will co-ordinate consultation on the plan and launch the finalised plan.
The Steering Group, together with other organisations identified in the plan will implement the agreed programme of action.
The Audit Group should establish a long-term programme to measure the effectiveness of the plan in achieving national and local targets.
- The Steering Group and Audit Group should put in place procedures to monitor and review the plan.
An important first step in the LBAP process is an audit of the biodiversity resource in the Western Isles. The Comhairle and Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned the Scottish Agricultural College to undertake a biodiversity audit which was produced in June 2002.
The Biodiversity Audit Report is in 2 parts - the Main Report (PDF, 415Kb) and a Species Summary Table (PDF, 40Kb - a quick reference list of species and occurrence on individual islands within the Western Isles).
The audit identifies species and habitats which are of UK or local conservation concern and will provide us with baseline information on which to priorities further action.
The species and habitats identified in the audit have been evaluated to identify priorities for action in the Western Isles. Species and habitat action plans are being developed for these priorities with specific targets and proposals for action.
The local species and habitat action plans have been produced in 2 phases with all action plans being drafted by specialists. Public consultation exercises were carried out by a consultancy specialising in community engagement to agree the actions identified in the plans.
Phase 1 Consultation
A series of 3 workshops were held in Barra, Benbecula and Lewis in December 2003 to obtain community comments and ideas to help finalise the draft action plans.
The consultants took the opportunity to raise awareness about the local biodiversity of the islands and to engage young people of different ages in the evaluation of the action plans. Pupils from Castlebay Primary and Secondary Schools were invited to look at colourful posters of each species and habitat and to give their thoughts. The pupils were very responsive and the consultation report records all the feedback from these sessions.
The full consultant's independent report on the consultation exercise is available below.
- Cover Page (PDF 20K)
- Full Report (PDF 275K)
- Appendix A - Methodology (PDF 120K)
- Appendix B - Discussion of broader outcomes (PDF 50K)
- Appendix C - Attendees and actual comments (PDF 70K)
The report is also available in the local libraries.
Phase 2 Consultation
A series of 6 workshops were held in Barra, South Uist, North Uist, Harris and Lewis in March 2005 to ascertain the views and opinions of the local community on actions set out in the second phase of 5 action plans.
Further consultations were undertaken with key partners and stakeholders identified in the draft plans by telephone. Awareness raising ‘mini-workshops’ were also carried out at four primary schools across the islands to introduce the children to the latest draft action plans.
Consultants Report – Phase 2
The Western Isles Local Biodiversity Action Plan has been produced in 2 phases.
Phase 1 was launched on Thursday 27th May 2004 and comprises an introductory document entitled Our Nature – A Framework for Biodiversity Action in the Western Isles and 3 habitat and species action plans as follows:
- Our Nature – A Framework for Biodiversity Action in the Western Isles (PDF, 890Kb)
- Great Yellow Bumblebee Species Action Plan (PDF, 715Kb)
- Native Woodlands Habitat Action Plan (PDF, 680Kb)
- Saline Lagoons Habitat Action Plan (PDF, 660Kb)
Our Nature – A Framework for Biodiversity Action in the Western Isles provides background information on biodiversity and the local objectives and generic actions for the Western Isles; and suggests how individuals and communities can become involved in safeguarding and enhancing biodiversity locally.
Phase 2 was launched on Thursday 11th August 2005 and comprises 5 species and habitat action plans:
- Cereal Fields Habitat Action Plan (PDF, 660Kb)
- Corn Bunting Species Action Plan (PDF, 690Kb)
- Corncrake Species Action Plan (PDF, 700Kb)
- Dunlin Species Action Plan (PDF, 680Kb)
- Irish Lady Tresses Orchid Species Action Plan (PDF, 720Kb)
The Western Isles Native Woodland Action Plan includes, as an action, the production of a Woodland Strategy. The Western Isles Woodland Strategy has been drawn up by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in conjuction with representatives of the Western Isles LBAP Steering Group and the Forestry Commission.