Scottish Natural Heritage in running for award over Loch Leven success

ONE of Scotland’s best loved beauty spots is in the running for a major European award.

Loch Leven, through Scottish Natural Heritage and its partners, has been nominated for a prestigious Natura 2000 award.

The accolade is for work benefitting Loch Leven, its visitors, and the local community and is one of four Natura sites nominated in the socio-economic category.

Loch Leven has been recognised for its 21-kilometre circular Heritage Trail, which SNH says attracts visitors that contribute over £2 million to local businesses and provides significant social benefits.

A huge plus for Natura 2000 judges, was the long-term efforts made to improve the water quality of the loch.

Historically, nutrient inputs from agricultural, domestic and industrial discharges degraded the lake’s water quality. In 1992, this led to a devastating algal bloom known locally as ‘Scum Saturday’, which resulted in an estimated loss of £1 million to the local economy over the three months that followed.

SNH said: “This was a real catalyst for action. Local people and organisations worked together to implement a plan that upgraded waste water treatment works, controlled industrial pollution and reduced agricultural diffuse pollution.”

Now they are calling on all those  who enjoy Loch Leven to vote for it to win the coveted European Citizens’ Award, in which the general public vote for their favourite award finalist.

Votes may be cast at http://natura2000award-application.eu/

Francesca Osowska, SNH’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re thrilled with this nomination for the Natura 2000 Award, which shows that the work done with all of our partners over many years to improve the water quality, environment, and visitor experience at Loch Leven is top notch.”

The loch attracts over 200,000 visitors a year to see its wonderful wildlife and to walk or cycle along the circular trail.

Dr Linda May of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), who has led the Loch Leven monitoring programme for 25 years, added: “The enormous improvements in water quality at Loch Leven over the last 25 years have provided a better habitat for wildlife and increased its amenity value.

“The loch is now a world-leading example of the benefits to nature and communities of using scientific evidence to inform restoration and management decisions. We should all be very proud of what we have achieved.”

Partners in the project include The Rural Access Committee for Kinross-Shire (TRACKS), Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Perth & Kinross Council, Kinross Estate Company, Lockett Agri-Environmental, The James Hutton Institute, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), RSPB Scotland, and local farmers, Robin Niven and Angus Bayne.

The Natura 2000 Award ceremony, will take place on the 17 May, 2018, in Brussels.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Natura 2000 Award

IMAGE CREDITS: @ShaunMilne

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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