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Bid to safeguard beauty spot at Buchan wildlife haven

Loch of Strathbeg horses
Loch of Strathbeg horses

A campaign to preserve an overgrown beauty spot at a north-east wildlife haven will be launched today.

RSPB Scotland has received backing from a national conservation group to restore acres of fen meadows at its Loch of Strathbeg site, between Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

The wildflower-rich area is home to a herd of rare horses which were introduced to help improve the site’s wetland habitats.

Now the flowers, plants and fungi welfare group Plantlife has agreed to step in and spearhead a programme of improvements aimed at restoring the wild patch.

It is part of the national Save Our Magnificent Meadows campaign, which includes similar conservation projects up and down the country.

Strathbeg site manager, Richard Humpidge, said last night: “We are thrilled to be part of this incredibly ambitious project.

“The fen meadow has been largely unmanaged for the last 50-60 years and has become dominated by soft rush.

“We have had konik ponies for over three years now and they made a good start at removing the rushes. The ponies eat the rush, making room for smaller, more delicate flowering plants.”

He said that support from Save Our Magnificent Meadows would allow the reserve to hire a team of specialists to cut away the rush.

He added: “It will also allow us to involve visitors and the local community, hopefully inspiring an appreciation of wildflower meadows, grasslands and the wildlife that lives there.”

Plantlife is partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has the Prince of Wales as its patron.

Spokeswoman, Nicola Hutchinson, said: “For the conservation of grassland plants and other wildlife, this is incredible news.

“Our aim all along has been to establish a programme and a profile for the ‘Cinderella of the conservation world’.

“There has never been a grassland programme of this scale and ambition before and it is an amazing opportunity for Plantlife, for the project partners, for all the beneficiaries of the project and for grassland wildlife.”

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