£109,000 to be used to restore and manage grassland and support pollinators at various sites across the county.

East Lothian Council has received £109,000 from the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) which is provided to local authorities to support new, or to enhance existing, approaches to restoring biodiversity.

The Council will use this funding to support a grassland habitat restoration project to restore and manage grassland and support pollinators at various sites across the county.

Council Leader, Norman Hampshire, said: “East Lothian Council already has a proven track record in natural habitat management, particularly on our coastal and countryside sites and also through strong working partnerships with landowners, land managers and local communities to deliver benefits and enhancements for wildlife and people,

“Our grassland project will see a comprehensive programme of coastal habitat restoration and enhancement which will benefit wildlife and improve biodiversity.”

Key sites where this project will be focused include Levenhall Links, Longniddry Bents, Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, Gullane Bents, Yellowcraig turf nursery and Whitesands / Barns Ness, which are all owned or managed by the Council. It is recognised that these sites have been affected by the recent increase in visitors resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, so this is an opportunity to contribute to the recovery of the sites and the nature and wildlife which depend upon them.

Planned works for this project will include a change in management of these sites to improve species diversity, through purchase of specialist machinery to mow the grasslands with additional sowing of native wildflower seed as required.

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the grassland sites will be carried out to measure the benefits of work undertaken, led by the council’s Biodiversity Officer and Countryside Ranger Service working in partnership with the local community and East Lothian Countryside Volunteers.

In the longer term it is hoped to extend the project into urban areas to improve the connectivity of grassland / pollinator corridor along the coast. Local communities will be involved in assisting with identifying areas suitable for enhancing grassland and wildflowers – including the re-wilding of green space and parkland where appropriate.

Published: Wednesday, 1st December 2021