RSPB Scotland’s Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve has been awarded £53,250 of funding to transform visitor facilities and volunteer accommodation at the site near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.
The capital grant comes from the Coastal Communities Fund and will vastly help to improve the visitor experience at this popular coastal reserve and promote the area as an outstanding wildlife tourist destination.
Loch of Strathbeg is the UK’s largest dune loch, home to thousands of wild geese, swans and ducks, including 20% of the world's population of pink-footed geese.
The reserve’s annual dawn goosewatch events attract visitors from across Europe to witness 40,000 geese leaving their roost - one of Scotland's greatest nature spectacles.
Providing homes for more than 550 species requires hard work by many passionate people, particularly our volunteers
Cash will also help to create around 33 new volunteer roles annually, bringing significant economic benefit to the area through wildlife tourism and increased local expenditure.
Residential volunteers and local people, including community groups, will receive training in environmental management and conservation, while young people seeking a career in conservation will benefit from the residential internships on offer at Loch of Strathbeg.
The improved facilities on the reserve will also allow local communities to have more opportunities to engage with the diverse natural environment on their doorstep, inspiring active and healthy communities, as well as encouraging economic growth in and around the area.
Building work is expected to start in March 2015 and is due for completion by March 2016.
Simon Busuttil, RSPB Scotland’s reserve manager for east Scotland, said: "We are delighted to receive this award from the Coastal Communities Fund. The Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve is a fantastic asset for wildlife and local communities who both visit and help us look after the reserve.
“Providing homes for more than 550 species requires hard work by many passionate people, particularly our volunteers for many of whom volunteering with us is the first step to a career in conservation.
“This award will allow us to provide more opportunities for volunteers to stay at the reserve and contribute to protecting an important coastal wildlife site while developing the skills necessary to save nature."