Aberdeenshire abuzz with new Biodiversity Champions

Twenty-one local councillors have stepped up and volunteered to champion a range of biodiversity species, habitats and topics considered to be facing particular challenges in Aberdeenshire.

Following the success of a Biodiversity Champions initiative which began in 2016, the local project is similar to a national scheme which invites MSPs to champion species under threat.

However, the list of issues for Aberdeenshire has been widened to include habitats such as peatlands, and issues in particular need of attention including pollinators, community tree planting and control of invasive non-native species (INNS).

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee and Deputy Leader of the Council, Peter Argyle, is one of the Pollinator Champions.

“Important insects such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies have received considerable media attention in recent times, highlighting their decline due to loss of suitable habitat and the damaging impact of certain pesticides,” he said.  

“The Pollinator Champions will be working with Aberdeenshire Council to look at changing practices to benefit these valuable species and hopefully reduce open space maintenance costs at the same time.”

Former countryside ranger Councillor John Latham (Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford) is one of the Champions for Pine Marten. 

 “There has been such a wide interest in the issues being raised by the Champions Initiative, and that’s a big part of what we want to achieve,” he said.

“We are supporting ongoing projects for some of our iconic species including freshwater pearl mussel, red squirrel, wildcat, pine marten and bottlenose dolphin and hope this has a positive impact in future.” 

These species are priorities for action within the local area and the red squirrel and wildcat are the focus of local action plans to halt their decline. 

Councillors will assist officers from Saving Scotland Red Squirrels and Scottish Wildcat Action in promoting the work being done to secure a home for these species in Aberdeenshire.

The Biodiversity Champions Initiative is recognised in a report recently produced to chart the council’s progress in meeting its statutory duty to ‘Protect and Enhance Biodiversity’ whilst carrying out its functions. The report can be viewed on Aberdeenshire Council's website.

Chair of the council’s Sustainability Committee, Colin Pike, said: “The Committee recently received and approved this report on our progress over the last three years and although there is much to be done the report shows a clear commitment to taking action to meet our duty to protect biodiversity.

“The Champions initiative is one important strand of this action and I am delighted to be involved as one of the Community Tree Planting Champions.”