National Trust for Scotland media release Annual Conference 2010
NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND MEDIA RELEASE
14 September 2010
European nature conservation experts learn from Ben Lawers
Dozens of site managers and nature conservationists from all over Europe will descend on the National Trust for Scotland’s Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve in the Central Highland tomorrow, to learn about the impact of climate change in this fragile mountain environment.
Delegates from the 2010 Eurosite Conference, which is hosted by Scottish Natural Heritage, will spend time on the mountain learning more about how changes in climate are impacting on the plant and animal life found on the hillside and on other aspects of management such as the upland footpaths.
Neil McIntosh, Head of Eurosite Network Services, said:
“In this International Year of Biodiversity, we felt it was important to focus on how we cope with the changing climate and the impact that has across Europe.
“Ben Lawers is a hugely significant site for its plant life and we will hear first hand about how the changing climate, reducing snow cover and increased rainfall is affecting this delicate and beautiful environment. We hope that our delegates can take the lessons learned here home and apply them to their own locations, whether in Finnish forests or Spanish hills.”
Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, which is owned and cared for by Scotland’s leading conservation charity, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation under the European Habitats Directive for the exceptional examples of a number of habitats, rare on a European scale.
One of the botanically richest mountains in Britain, Ben Lawers is widely known for its outstanding range and diversity of arctic-alpine species and vegetation types. It is important for the very large number of nationally rare or scarce montane plant species that it supports, including vascular plants, lichens, and bryophytes. It also has an outstanding diversity of invertebrates with many nationally rare or notable species.
The reserve is also hugely popular with hillwalkers owing to its Munros, scenery and accessibility.
The fate of some of its rare plants has been of concern to conservationists over recent years due to the reduction of snow cover, which is important in protecting these delicate plants over the winter months.
Property Manager Helen Cole said:
“We are carefully monitoring our plants, so we can determine the impact that a variety of factors including climate change may be having on the diverse and delicate species found on Ben Lawers. Sadly, some species do appear to be in definite decline, but it is not all bad news. With careful conservation and sensitive management, populations can be re-established and thrive once again, as we found recently with our Highland Saxifrage project.
“We are honoured to welcome such a prestigious delegation to Ben Lawers and look forward to sharing our experience, and learning from the approaches taken by others across Europe.”
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National Trust for Scotland Press Office. Contact Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr on 0844 493 2483/ 07713 786277.