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Fannyside land purchase aims to protect Cumbernauld Bean Geese population

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 18:17 GMT on Monday, May 27th, 2013.

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PART of Cumbernauld’s rugged moorland, at Fannyside Muir has been purchased by the Forestry Commission, is a bid to protect the population of a rare arctic goose – an animal so rare that Cumbernauld is one of only two British places to see them, in the winter months.
Last week, the Forestry Commission announced that they have bought a 90ha area of land that lies between its 176ha site at Fannyside Muir, near Cumbernauld, and the nearby Fannyside Loch. 

Commenting, Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for the Environment & Climate Change said: “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.

“The wider area is also very important for over 200 Bean Geese that fly here every autumn to escape the worst of the Scandinavian winter.  

“Forestry Commission Scotland can now incorporate this important site and the deep peat bog it contains into their management plan and can also work with the other landscape partners in the area – SNH, SWT and RSPB Scotland – to make sure that the mosaic of habitats is protected and improved for these birds and for other animal, plant and insect species in the area.”

The newly acquired site forms part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area designated by Scottish Ministers under the EU Birds Directive, with the land being 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.

2013 is the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’; a sentiment which has inspired the Commission, who will work with Scottish National Heritage, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland in order 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.

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Anne McCall, RSPB Regional Director for South and West Scotland said that The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scotland “warmly welcomes” the intervention”.

Ms McCall said: "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.”

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.

Iain Rennick, Area Manager from SNH said that the announcement for “welcome news”.

He said: “This is welcome news for SNH and for our other partners on the Bean Goose Action Group who have been working together since the early 1990s to protect this very special population of geese.  The purchase by FCS removes a risk of their main roosting site being lost or damaged as a result of peat extraction.

“This benefits the geese, and in protecting the peat also contributes to Scotland’s climate change targets.  We look forward to taking forward work at this site with FCS and others.”    

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