City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Ecological Data Centre Gets Cash Boost


By edg - Posted on 23 December 2008

A Scottish Otter

A small office at Vogrie Country Park in Midlothian is taking on a larger role in helping to safeguard biodiversity in Edinburgh and the Lothians. The Lothian Wildlife Information Centre has been given a grant of £42,000 by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to help fund its work over the next three years.

The centre collects, collates and analyses information about the environment of Edinburgh and the Lothians from a wide range of sources. Amateur wildlife recorders, environmental consultants, research organisations, and conservation organisations like SNH and the Scottish Wildlife Trust are just some of the sources where the data comes from. This treasure trove of hundreds of thousands of records is available for everyone to consult, from local authorities dealing with planning applications as well as consultants acting for the developers, to local people who just want to know if a plant or animal in their garden is unusual.

Knowing what plants and animals exist in an area, and where in that area they are, is a first step to looking after them. For example, in previous years the centre was instrumental in confirming that a rare blind white snail, thought to exist on Arthur's Seat but not reported for decades, was still there. The work of the centre in supporting local biodiversity action plans for the Lothians also helps to contribute towards the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and the government's international commitments on biodiversity.

Iain Rennick, SNH's area manager for Forth & Borders, said: "SNH's role as a core funder of the centre is an investment for everyone in the Lothians. The centre makes it possible to maintain a good understanding of what plants and animals exist in the area and changes in their distribution over time. This will not only help us to study the effects of things such as climate change and changes in the use of land in the area, but will be invaluable for communities, developers and land managers when considering the potential impact of development on wildlife."

Sara Hawkswell, manager of the centre, said: "This project is vital to conserving and enhancing the natural heritage where large parts of the Scottish population live. The Lothian Wildlife Information Centre is a central point for monitoring the environment. The data we hold are put to practical use on a daily basis: informing planning decisions and management of our wildlife, as well as for research and education.

"Three years from now I hope that the data will have expanded and we will have a lot more detailed analysis of the distribution of plants and animals across Lothian which will increase our understanding of the changes in the area."