Legacy from The Open supports biodiversity in St Andrews
Following The Open last year, The R&A provided £15,000 of funding to support three local legacy projects in St Andrews.
The three initiatives, and the organisations responsible for their delivery, are:
- Enhancing biodiversity in St Andrews – University of St Andrews
- West Sands Dune Restoration works – Fife Coast and Countryside Trust
- Biodiversity Challenge – Keep Scotland Beautiful
Keep Scotland Beautiful will run workshops for schools in the St Andrews area that will offer young people the chance to find out more about the biodiversity of their school grounds and develop a practical action plan to improve and increase the wildlife habitats present. Pupils will also get the chance to get their hands dirty making ‘seed bombs’, which are planned to be scattered after a community beach clean in the autumn.
Carol Noble, Operations Director for Keep Scotland Beautiful said, “We are delighted to support The Open legacy programme through our Biodiversity Challenge which will offer young people the chance to find out more about local biodiversity and how to improve wildlife habitats, as well as a community beach clean event that local communities are welcome to join.
“We are also very pleased to be continuing our relationship with The R&A to promote the responsible disposal of litter at The 145th Open at Royal Troon and, together with the Biodiversity Challenge, we see this as part of our work to help make Scotland clean, green and more sustainable.”
Why a focus on biodiversity?
There is global concern about loss of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity, signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognises that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro-organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live. 2011-2020 has been designated as the decade on biodiversity by the United Nations, and halting biodiversity loss is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which became operational as of 1 January 2016.
In 2011, the EU adopted an ambitious strategy setting out six targets and 20 actions to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The EU Biodiversity Strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and help stop global biodiversity loss. It reflects the commitments taken by the EU in 2010, within the international Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Scottish Government has its own ‘2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity - A Strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland’. The 2020 Challenge responds to the new international targets.
Whilst the three St Andrews Open legacy projects will contribute towards the Scottish Government’s strategy, there are also plenty of other related activities happening in St Andrews this year. Members of the public are encouraged to participate and help make these events a success:
- A St Andrews BioBlitz is scheduled to take place on 3 and 4 June 2016 at the East Sands. For more information, visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/StABioblitz
- St Andrews Wild Watch Club for children aged 8-14 is held at the St Andrews Botanic Garden, one Saturday of each month
- The new Tropical Butterfly Experience is now open at St Andrews Botanic Garden, part of the 2016 theme of ‘Pollinators’. Regular events are held at the Garden each month for all to enjoy; go to www.st-andrews-botanic.org/ for more information
- Keep Scotland Beautiful is organising a community beach Clean Up event in early autumn as part of their ‘Clean Up Scotland’ campaign. After taking part in the Clean Up, it is planned that school pupils will plant ‘seed bombs’ that they made in Biodiversity Challenge workshops. More information at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/randabiodiversitychallenge
- The RSPB is planning to hold Sea Eagle watch events every Saturday in October
- There are four Local Nature Reserves manged by the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, which are always worth a visit; at Birnie Gaddon, Coul Den, Dalbeath Marsh and the Eden Estuary. For more information go to http://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/Local-Nature-Reserves_32.html
- The local volunteers group, St Andrews in Bloom, as part of a Beautiful Scotland campaign, will plant another wildflower meadow at Cockshaugh Park and will also sow more Bee Diverse seeds at St Andrews Botanic Garden with the junior gardening groups.
This suite of activities builds on the strong existing commitment which St Andrews already has in place to protect, encourage and grow awareness of biodiversity at the local level. Already established initiatives include the Outhead Sheep Grazing project, the environmental management of the Links by St Andrews Links Trust and the West Sands dune habitat restoration initiative. From an educational standpoint, the St Andrews Botanic Garden hosts regular events to connect the local community with nature and wildlife. A major initiative with international implications is also underway through the ‘Saltmarsh of the Fringe’ project which is led by the University of St Andrews Sediment Ecology Research Group (SERG). The project commenced in March 2016 and, over the next three years, will work to regenerate and plant new saltmarsh within the Eden Estuary. As a flagship landscape size local habitat project, the work will deliver important contributions for coastal defence and CO2 capture, while also helping to address coastal habitat decline. Saltmarsh is vital habitat for wildfowl, waders and insects.
With strong commitments already in place for improving biodiversity across the town, the three new local legacy projects enabled by The Open in 2015 will provide an important additional contribution to positioning St Andrews as a leader in protecting the natural environment.