National Lottery Funding makes a £1.3m splash

he Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Centre in Tobermory will be redeveloped as the Gateway to the Hebridean Whale Trail.

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As World Water Day shines a global focus on the health of our oceans and marine environment, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has committed to support five new projects which will help address the sustainability of Scotland’s seas and inland waterways and their habitats.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Centre in Tobermory is one organisation to benefit from a share of the £1.3million in funding.

Thanks to a grant of £250,000, it will be redeveloped as the Gateway to the Hebridean Whale Trail which links 33 sites across the west coast of Scotland.  The project  will strengthen the Hebridean Whale Trail, including new interpretation in the centre, films and a programme of activities to educate visitors, in both English and Gaelic, on the spectacular marine heritage of the Hebrides.

Twenty-three species of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been recorded in Hebridean waters. Inspiring more people to care for their marine environment, understand the pressures our wildlife is faced with and be encouraged, through meaningful engagement, to take action to protect and restore nature has never been more important.

Other projects to benefit include Gateway to Gigha, where the community will be providing foot and cycle access to the island’s historic sites, better protecting the island, reducing its carbon footprint. The project will receive £228,100; the restoration of native oyster beds in a mid-Argyll sea loch, where charity organisation, Sea Wilding, will be working with volunteer group, Craignish Restoration of Marine and Coastal Habitats (CROMACH), to grow the oysters in floating baskets for translocation to trial seabed sites, once widespread in the loch. The project has been given a heritage grant of £216,400. And, nestled at the foot of the Skye Bridge, the natural habitat of the Plock parkland is set to be improved to provide an important green space for the wellbeing of the local community. The three-year project will combine volunteers’ activities, such as grassland conservation, wildflower planting and clearing ditches so that otters can move more freely, with physical works such as renovating the former Skye Toll office into a community hub and creating a benchmark trail to promote fitness. Working with health partners, this recreational greenspace will support the most vulnerable in the remote community and host many activities including a large green-health event for the Year of Coasts and Waters. The project is to receive £196,000.

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: ‘As we celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, there has never been a better time to raise awareness of the important role our marine heritage has in the future of a sustainable environment. Not only is the direct conservation we fund vitally important, but we hope that through our projects, there will be increased awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future.