Thanks to the purchase of a site in North Lanarkshire by the Forestry Commission, Scotland’s only population of a rare arctic goose will be better protected in future.
The Commission has bought 90 hectares of land that lies between its 176ha site at Fannyside Muir, near Cumbernauld, and the nearby Fannyside Loch.
The newly acquired site – which includes a substantial area of deep peat bog – forms part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area designated by Scottish Ministers under the EU Birds Directive.
It is the regular over-wintering ground of Scotland’s only flock of Taiga Bean Geese, which numbers over 200 birds and represents more than half of the UK wintering population.
Deep peat bogs are vitally important habitats and also play an important role as carbon sinks, locking up large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) that would, if released, contribute to climate change.
In this Year of Natural Scotland, the Commission will work with SNH, SWT and RSPB Scotland to develop an overarching management strategy for the site and the wider area that will help maintain the wide range of habitats in peak condition.
There are no plans to plant trees on the site – or to extract peat – which means that approximately 25,000t carbon (equivalent to >90,000tCo2) will remain locked up in the deep peat soils present on the site.
Bean Geese are a species of European Conservation Concern. They breed in north Scandinavia, north Russia and north Asia but overwinter at this north Lanarkshire site and one other site in Britain.
Bean Geese are an RSPB Amber conservation priority and Anne McCall, RSPB’s Regional Director for South and West Scotland, says: ‘RSPB Scotland warmly welcomes this intervention by FCS, which will protect Fannyside Muir from peat extraction and secure its long-term management, not only for bean geese, but also as a rich peatland habitat.
‘Slammanan Plateau is one of only two sites in the UK where Bean geese spend the winter. Sadly, the breeding population in Scandinavia has declined in the last 20 years and it is vital that we do everything we can in Scotland to protect the habitats they depend on.
‘RSPB has managed the neighbouring Fannyside Reserve for 16 years and we look forward to working with FCS and other partners to preserve an even greater area of habitat in a condition that these birds favour.’