Scottish Natural Heritage to transfer land to South Uist community

Druidibeg. Image credit: SNH/Lorne Gill

A proposal from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for a South Uist community group to establish a new Nature Reserve within an active crofting estate has been approved by the Scottish Government.

With 1,100 ha of land at Loch Druidibeg, South Uist brought back into community ownership, local group Stòras Uibhist, in partnership with RSPB Scotland, plan for the site to include visitor facilities; habitat, goose and deer management; enhanced drainage and water quality and improved access to the loch.

David Maclennan, area manager for Outer Hebrides and Argyll, said: “We have been working closely with Stòras Uibhist and RSPB Scotland on this proposal for some time, and we are delighted approval is now in place to proceed with the transfer. As well as creating an opportunity for a new Nature Reserve in South Uist, this transfer is making a significant contribution to meeting the Scottish Government’s target of having 1 million acres of land in community ownership by 2020.”

Angus MacMillan, Stòras Uibhist chairman, said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Stòras Uibhist to work closely with SNH and RSPB to deliver meaningful environmental and habitat management in this area of South Uist. The East coast of the Uists is often not appreciated for the diversity of wildlife. It is hoped that many people will visit the reserve, in addition to enhancing the economic opportunities that arise from nature tourism.”

George Campbell, RSPB Scotland regional director, said: “We are delighted to be part of this new partnership and look forward to working with Stòras Uibhist & the local community to replicate the success of our Balranald reserve. There are real potential benefits to the local community, visitors & wildlife from the establishment of this new Nature Reserve and we look forward to working together with our new partners to realise the potential of Loch Druidibeg’s wonderful natural assets.”

Land reform secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would like to congratulate Stòras Uibhist who are one of the first community groups to have a loch transferred into their ownership.

“The transfer provides a unique opportunity for the community trust, working in partnership with RSPB Scotland, to showcase its commitment and vision for the Loch and surrounding area. I am grateful to SNH, Stòras Uibhist and RSPB for their work in reaching agreement, and for the local community’s commitment to securing a long term sustainable future for the area.

“This is an exciting time for land reform, and the Scottish Government continues to support and encourage community ownership, through legislation, funding and promotion of its benefits.”

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