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A new fund has been launched to help communities and local groups get involved in monitoring Scotland’s seabed and coastlines.
The Community Marine Monitoring Equipment Fund is offering support to up to 10 groups to buy equipment to record and monitor their local marine life.
The aim of the project is to enable communities and local groups to gain the skills, experience and knowledge to participate in biodiversity surveys in Scotland, helping to improve our knowledge of marine species and habitats.
Individual grants of up to £1,500 will be offered for entry level equipment such as ID guides, quadrats and GoPros. Larger grants up to £3,000 are available for joint applications between two or more groups.
Applications should have an emphasis on enabling community and/or youth engagement in marine monitoring.
The fund supports the publication last year of the Community-led Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Handbook – Scotland’s first ‘how to’ guide, which includes comprehensive information and resources for planning and carrying out marine surveys and monitoring.
NatureScot project officer Madlaina Michelotti said: ‘Communities around our coasts tell us they want to get more involved with their local shores and waters, but we know that access to the right equipment and resources can sometimes be a barrier.
‘This new fund, launching in Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, is an exciting opportunity for communities and local groups to survey their local marine and coastal habitats in a fun and collaborative way.
‘With spring under way and an easing of coronavirus restrictions on the horizon, we hope that, together with the handbook and online training, the fund can support more people to get out and about monitoring our seas and shorelines as soon as it is safe to do so.’
The project is a partnership between NatureScot, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), communities, local groups and individuals, with funding support from the William Grant Foundation.
Fauna & Flora International’s Marine project officer Rebecca Plant said: ‘Coastal communities across Scotland are well-placed to harness solutions to ensure healthy, well-managed seas, and many communities are looking to play a greater role in decisions around local and national marine management.
‘The collection of marine data through surveying and monitoring is a key process underpinning decision-making, however there are barriers to community involvement.
‘We hope that the collaborative Community Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Project will build participation in community-led marine data collection via the Equipment Fund and the Monitoring Handbook, empowering communities to play their part in the management of their local waters.’
Nick Addington, chief executive of the William Grant Foundation, said: ‘We’ve seen evidence of how effective modern survey technology is in the hands of community volunteers. We’re pleased to be supporting this fund to give more communities the chance to contribute to knowledge about their local coasts and waters.’