National Lottery Heritage Fund funding for RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond project
A project to make nature accessible to more people at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Lomond nature reserve has been boosted by £242,800 of support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Centred around the creation of a new 1.3km path, the project will link the shoreline of the iconic loch with the nature reserve’s existing path network and visitor hub for the first time. The Wildlife Trail to Loch Lomond will include viewing areas and interpretation detailing what wildlife visitors might see and is designed to allow for better access for visitors with varying mobility needs as well as buggies and prams, allowing more people to explore and immerse themselves in this incredible place.
Once the path construction is completed, an exciting new programme of activities based around it will begin. This programme has been designed with local organisations Green Routes, Choices School, Tullochan and Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) specifically for the needs of the communities they work with.
The activities will be tailored for young people in the local area with learning difficulties and others facing disadvantages in the job market, pupils with additional support needs who have left mainstream education, and those with life-shortening conditions and their families and carers. Roles for a new Community Outreach Officer and a Trainee Community & Education Officer will be created thanks to the support from National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver this programme.
The project is a vital part of RSPB Scotland’s mission to inspire people to take action to help tackle the nature and climate emergency by providing them with opportunities to experience nature, within their local community and country-wide, first-hand. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to greenspaces for physical and mental wellbeing but also the huge disparities and inequalities across Scotland to such areas.
The new path takes visitors on a journey from their arrival point to weave through grassland, across fens, and wind between ancient oak trees before coming to the open waters of the loch. The activities will be designed to enable young people to engage with their local nature, learn new skills, and gain confidence.
Paula Baker, RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond Site Manager said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received this support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Wildlife Trail to Loch Lomond will provide opportunities for many more people to experience the incredible nature in this part of Scotland, especially young people in the local community.
“The pandemic has shown just how important but unequal access to greenspaces is. The new path and the programme of activities around it will provide an amazing place for people’s mental and physical wellbeing to benefit from nature, and inspire them to take action to safeguard its future.
“The wellbeing benefits nature can provide should and must be for all and nature needs everyone to care about it in order to safeguard its future. We’d like to say a huge thank you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and are so excited to begin construction work later this year.”
Rami Okasha, CEO of CHAS said: “We are absolutely thrilled to hear that we have the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund who has given so generously to ensure that nature is more accessible and can be appreciated by everyone in Scotland. At CHAS, accessibility is absolutely crucial. We care for children with incredibly complex needs and we want to continue to encourage the children and families’ that we support to enjoy the great outdoors whenever and wherever they can. What better place to do that than Loch Lomond, right on the doorstep of Robin House.
“We want to extend a heartfelt thanks – you are helping make a real difference to the lives of those who will reap the benefits, both physically and mentally, of being immersed in the natural beauty that surrounds them.”
Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Wildlife, landscapes and nature form the bedrock of our culture and heritage, improving wellbeing, sparking curiosity, and protecting and providing for the community’s surrounding and inhabiting them.
“National Lottery players have highlighted natural heritage, and access to it, as especially important. That is why we were proud to award RSPB Scotland a grant to improve access and facility at the nature reserve which sits so close to one of the jewels of the Scottish landscape at Loch Lomond. Now people of all ages and abilities will be able to experience the beauty of this area and the joy and wellbeing that comes from that.”
RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond is home to a wide range of incredible wildlife from rare Greenland white-fronted geese in winter, to ospreys and redstarts in summer. Recently a beaver has been sighted in the area too as these mammals, once hunted to extinction in the UK, continue to re-establish a new population in Scotland.
Find out more about the nature reserve here.