Districts, October 23 2020

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KNAPDALE:

Online event to give beaver update

The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is hosting an online event on Wednesday October 28 on the Scottish Beavers Reinforcement Project.

People will be able to hear about the latest fieldwork, which took place in September, as well as the strategic successes of the three-year project. There will be talks about the impact of beavers on local wildlife tourism, the future of Knapdale Forest and an update on the national approach to beavers.

The project began in 2017, aiming to bolster the population of beavers released during the Scottish Beaver Trial.

Twenty-one beavers were introduced from Tayside to increase numbers and genetic diversity in the Knapdale beaver population. All animals were screened by qualified vets prior to release to ensure they were healthy and disease-free.

Annual surveys show many animals released through the project have successfully established territories and bred. It is hoped the new kits will eventually form breeding pairs with beavers descended from the Norwegian beavers released during the Scottish Beaver Trial increasing the overall diversity of Argyll’s beaver population and giving it the best chance for future success.

The project is led by Scottish Beavers, a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, created to continue the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial. It is taking place on land managed by Forest and Land Scotland and has been licensed by NatureScot, which is also co-ordinating monitoring requirements at the site.

To register for the event, hosted on Zoom from 6.30pm on Wednesday October 28, visit scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk or email enquiries@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk

ISLANDS:

Funding to ditch single-use packaging

Scotland’s islands could lead a revolution in the way people shop with financial support being provided to eradicate wasteful packaging.

Zero Waste Scotland will administer £600,000 in grant funding provided by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund to empower shops, from Shetland to Arran and all the islands in between, to take the next steps in the war on waste by ditching single-use packaging and moving to reusable options.

Single-use grocery packaging, from tubs and trays to bottles and bags, account for around 13 per cent of all household waste across the country.

Finance from the Islands Green Recovery Plan – Refillery Fund will be provided for dispensing and other equipment that enables customers to obtain grocery products in reusable containers brought from home.

This includes dispensers for dry goods such as cereals, pulses, grains, herbs, spices, pasta and rice, liquid items such as milk, fruit juices, oils and vinegars, and other products such as laundry detergents, washing up liquids, fabric softeners and liquid soaps.

Some pioneering shops have already started using package-free dispensers but the new scheme would see cash made available to existing small and medium-sized enterprises in the isles to make the transition.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: ‘Island communities have to bear the double burden of dealing with imported single-use items and then the shipping-off of waste.

‘This scheme gives shops on the islands the chance to be ahead of the game and at the forefront of a positive change. The financial help we are making available will enable outlets to make this significant positive step.

‘There is an understanding among communities about the damage done by single-use packaging as they see the effects in the countryside, beaches and seas around them.

‘As well as reducing waste, by opting for reuse we also reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need to extract, transport and manufacture materials to make new products.’

The scheme is part of a larger £2 million programme designed to inspire locally-led green projects as part of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across Scotland, around 130kg of packaging per household generates an estimated 650,000 tonnes of global production emissions per year. Single-use grocery packaging also creates litter.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, said: ‘The Islands Green Recovery Programme will stimulate new economic activity across our islands – helping to create a sustainable green economy.

‘We are aware that mitigating the effects of climate change can be more expensive for those living on our islands, which is why we are delighted to announce this funding.

‘This investment with Zero Waste Scotland is available to small and medium enterprises – who wish to offer customers a packaging-free shopping experience, where they are encouraged to use their own re-useable containers to purchase a range of foods and household groceries.’

Applications for funding are open until 5pm on November 16 2020. For more information, email IGRP@zerowastescotland.org.uk or visit Zero Waste Scotland’s website.