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|Monday 28th August 2006, 09:17||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK
Red kite cash for Dumfries and Galloway could top £750,000
Red kite cash could top £750,000
The kite trail has generated extra income in Dumfries and Galloway
The economic impact of the Galloway Kite Trail could top £750,000 a year, according to a new study.
The Glasgow University report shows the trail - established in 2003 - has become one of the key wildlife tourism attractions in Dumfries and Galloway.
Businesses along the Loch Ken route have seen expenditure increase on accommodation, food and travel.
An RSPB spokesman said the trail was becoming "increasingly lucrative" for the area as a whole.
Dumfries and Galloway Area Manager Chris Rollie said the figures could only be good news for the region.
"This is extremely exciting news for all of us involved in the Galloway Kite Trail," he said.
"When meeting folk along the route and at the feeding station, we are aware of its popularity with tourists.
This demonstrates that nature based tourism is destined to be a major player in the development of tourism in the region
Alasdair Morgan MSP
"But it is encouraging to see this enthusiasm represented in an economically beneficial way for businesses in the area."
He said the red kite was joining the osprey and eagle as a major income generator for Scotland.
"Clearly, the primary aim of the red kite project was to re-establish the species in Dumfries and Galloway," commented south of Scotland MSP Alasdair Morgan.
"The fact that it has had such a substantial economic impact is a great bonus for the local economy.
"This demonstrates that nature-based tourism is destined to be a major player in the development of tourism in the region."
That was a view shared by Scottish Natural Heritage's area manager, Chris Miles.
"The success of the kite trail is demonstrating that our natural resources can play a key part of in the future social and economic development of the area," he said.
"This fully justifies a robust conservation effort.
"The kites have shown the way and we can develop similar approaches with other species."
|Monday 28th August 2006, 10:44||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2004
Blog Entries: 10
Well done to everyone in Scotland for this great effort.
I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it ws just some bloke with a torch, bringing me more work
|Thursday 31st August 2006, 02:22||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK
The nation's nest egg
The nation's nest egg
JIM GILCHRIST, The Scotsman
IT WAS once so common that it scavenged in our city streets, then was persecuted into extinction. But today, following a sometimes fraught reintroduction programme, the red kite is not only reclaiming Scottish skies but ringing the tills of Galloway's tourist industry, demonstrating how the conservation of charismatic bird species can benefit not only the birds, but the humans who share space with them.
In Galloway, where the last 17 years of red kite reintroduction to Scotland have proved more successful than elsewhere in Scotland, the economic impact of the Galloway Kite Trail could be worth more than £750,000 a year in terms of local tourist revenue, according to a new study by two Glasgow University students on placement with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB Scotland). But the south-west isn't the only part of Scotland experiencing the beneficial economic spin-off of hosting unusual or spectacular birds: Mull, Loch Garten and North Berwick are all cashing in on bird-watching.
The Galloway Kite Trail was set up three years ago by a partnership led by the RSPB Scotland, with funding from the local Making Tracks sustainable tourism project, the EU's Leader+ programme and Scottish Natural Heritage. The trail, which links walks, viewing points and information boards around Loch Ken, is also supported by certain local businesses, such as hotels.
Chris Rollie, RSPB Scotland's Dumfries and Galloway area manager, pronounces himself is delighted with the trail's success as well as with the current red kite breeding figures for the area, now up to 14 successfully nesting pairs this year, producing 27 chicks. "The whole idea of creating the trail was in response to demand from both locals and visitors, who knew we had released kites in the area and wanted the best chance of seeing them," he says. "Now the birds are doing very well, with the population expanding, providing a superb spectacle for visitors and locals alike." And he adds that two thirds of visitors on the Kite Trail are from out with Scotland.
As local hotel and B&B proprietors rub their hands, is there not a danger of the increased human attention killing the goose that lays the golden egg, to mix ornithological metaphors? "Kites are scavengers, living largely on carrion," says Rollie, "and were used to living in close contact with humans for centuries, as they still do in many parts of Europe. We've obviously got to be very careful. Not just nature tourism but tourism in general can spoil an area if you encourage too many people - I'd suggest that's what happened to certain parts of the Lake District. But I think, in terms of birds we are promoting, like kites and eagles and ospreys, that we're doing it in a sensitive enough way."
In Scotland, the red kite - Milvus milvus - used to be called the gled, or as often as not the greedy gled, while in some parts it went under the rather magnificent name of the crochet-tailed-tailed puttock. Its reputation as a scavenger has ever associated it with gluttony, and one of its Gaelic names, the clamhan (also applied to some other raptors such as the buzzard), may have a similar derivation.
During the Middle Ages, the elegant, distinctively fork-tailed raptor once played such an important role in burgh refuse disposal that it was protected by royal decree, and killing one could result in capital punishment. Its magpie-like reputation for lining its nest with any frilly material it could find (including underwear) prompted Autolycus to remark, in Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale: "When the kite builds, look to lesser linen." By the 16th century, however, a bounty had been placed on its head and the unrelenting war carried out by Victorian estate-owners and their keepers on "vermin", as well as the attentions of egg-hunters, as it became rarer, saw the bird becoming effectively extinct in England, then Scotland, during the 1870s, with only a handful of pairs surviving in some remote Welsh valleys.
Birds from Scandinavia and Germany were first reintroduced to Scotland 16 years ago, and while this year has been the best yet for Scotland's revived kite population - particularly in Galloway - at the beginning of the new millennium doubts were cast over the viability of the whole reintroduction programme as it was plagued by poisonings, often through the scavengers eating illegally poisoned bait left out for foxes or crows.
Rollie agrees that, while the south-west population is now doing well, there is no room for complacency. "Kites were introduced into three parts of Scotland - the north, around Inverness and the Black Isle, in central Scotland around Doune, and down here in Galloway around Loch Ken. There were poisonings in each of these locations to begin with and unfortunately we lost 13 birds, in Galloway alone, during the early part of the project. Thankfully, that seems to have stopped - touch wood - and the population is increasing." He adds, however, that in the north of Scotland "the whole project is still on a knife-edge. The population up there is stagnant and we've had a number of poisoning incidents. They're being hemmed in, basically by illegal poisonings."
It's possible, however, agrees Rollie that even those of a certain Victorian mind set might be swayed when they hear the coffers of local businesses rattling as more appreciative visitors flock to see the "vermin" and ventures such as the Galloway Kite Trail reinforce the "ownership" of rare or charismatic species by communities and local tourism operators. "Hopefully, the social pressure will work on those few individuals who are still poisoning. There are lots of responsible gamekeepers out there who work very hard but don't resort to poisoning."
Chris Miles, area manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, also points to the way in which natural resources can play a part in local socio-economic development: "This fully justifies a robust conservation effort. The kites have shown the way and we can develop similar approaches with other species."
That this is already happening elsewhere is confirmed by a report, Watched Like Never Before, published earlier this year by the RSPB's UK economics department which looked at ten bird species which are drawing visits to various locations across Britain. In Mull - "eagle island" as it's becoming known by enthusiastic green tourism promoters - the reintroduction of sea eagles, resulting in a small but self sustaining and growing population of these magnificent birds, is attracting an estimated £1.4-£1.6 million to the island, within the £38 million spent annually by visitors in general. The island's population of golden eagles also enhances its attractiveness as a wildlife destination.
Probably the best-known example of returned species fuelling local tourism is the RSPB Scotland's osprey project at Loch Garten in Inverness-shire, where the unexpected return of the "fishing hawk" to Scotland in the 1950s prompted such an influx of bird-watchers that in 1959 a viewpoint was established. Today, something approaching two million people have now visited the site to watch successive pairs of ospreys and their young at the nest. With the UK population now standing at 200 pairs, there are nine sites across Britain where ospreys can be viewed, to which visitors are thought to contribute around a total of £3.5 million to the surrounding local economies
Chris Rollie says that one of the more recent osprey viewing sites is in the unlikely location of the county buildings in Wigton, where "live" images of the birds can be viewed, transmitted from the carefully guarded nest, in an unspecified location, by CCTV camera.
The RSPB Scotland, in conjunction with a local wildlife tourism company, also established a capercaillie-viewing facility at Loch Garten, where the chance of watching, via CCTV, the ritual "lek" of these spectacular but endangered birds is attracting an estimated 10,000 visitors annually to Strathspey.
Further to the south, the RSPB, in partnership with the Forestry Commission, SNH and local tourism operators and raptor study groups, has opened a 40km Trossachs Bird of Prey Trail around Doune and Aberfoyle, citing red kites, peregrine falcons and golden eagles as among the species recovering after decades of persecution. And in North Berwick, remote-controlled cameras, again, enable visitors to the East Lothian resort's award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre to observe at close quarters, the seething gannet colony on the Bass Rock, the largest single-rock gannetry in Britain, three miles offshore. Local research has suggested that visitors to the state-of-the art building inject £1 million a year into the local economy and support the equivalent of 35 full-time jobs.
So it's not just the bird-watchers who are kept happy. A spokesperson for the national tourism agency VisitScotland cites yet another recent survey, which suggests that "more than 50 per cent of visitors like to take part in some sort of wildlife watching activity while on holiday in Scotland, making it one of the most popular outdoor pursuits". The kite may be traditionally associated with greed, but it now seems to be satisfying the interests of both ornithologists and local businesses alike.
• For further information: www.gallowaykitetrail.com
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