Flocks of migrating birds can stop off in Alloa during their long winter journey thanks to the Black Devon Wetlands - the first known 'managed retreat' project in Scotland.
The award winning project was praised by the Habitat Enhancement Initiative (HEI) last year for its 'innovative and forward looking approach taken at a local level' and the project also got top marks because it 'demonstrated opportunities for managed retreat and provided recreation potential for the local community'.
The Black Devon Wetland is part of the Clackmannanshire Rivers Project managed by the Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust. Work to recreate the wetlands has been ongoing for three years and now provides: an extensive new wetland habitat for wildlife next to the rivers Black Devon and Forth improved access for local people new tree planting
The seven-hectare site is owned by the Earl of Mar and Kellie and is part of a farm consisting of around 35 hectares of wet pasture grazed by cattle. The adjacent upper Forth is listed as a Special Protection Area under the European Birds Directive in recognition of its outstanding ornithological importance.
Councillor Donald Balsillie, Trustee of the Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust said: "The development of the Black Devon Wetland project has evolved over the last three years and thanks to a lot of hard work and application of environmental principles we now have a wonderful site of wildlife importance on the outskirts of Alloa."
Strategically the Black Devon Wetland is already demonstrating considerable benefits for nature conservation, providing another link in the chain of existing sites of ecological significance along the Upper Forth.
"The project is a good example of partnership working which has resulted in a great deal of extra value in terms of the approach, goodwill, expertise from the agencies involved and public access," added Councillor Balsillie.
"The Black Devon Wetland also aims to provide recreation opportunities for the community of Alloa South and East. Access improvements have included path upgrading, new access provision and waymarking".
The Wetlands are right on the doorsteps of two local schools, St Mungo's and Park Primary - and pupils have already been involved in the project through tree planting. The wetlands also represent a new environmental education resource with pupils able to observe local wildlife and plant life during lessons.
The Clackmannanshire Countryside Rivers Project is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Clackmannanshire Council landfill tax funding, Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust and Fentons. The support of the Earl of Mar and Kellie as landowner, was central to the success of the Black Devon Wetland Project.
Notes The Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust is a charitable trust, which aims to enhance the historic buildings of Clackmannanshire, improve its landscape and encourage sustainable use of the environment. The Council is an active member of the Trust supporting many projects.
The Black Devon Wetland site is based around a controlled breach of flood embankments of the River Black Devon, introduced to allow the reclaimed salt marsh next to this tidal part of the river to flood. This has been combined with ground modelling to create permanent lagoons. The project is an example of one possible approach to addressing potential flooding risks caused by climate change as a result of Global warming.
The HEI was initiated as a national SEPA project in July 1998 and formally launched in April 1999. The HEI was established with the aim of securing measurable improvement in the management of aquatic and riparian habitats and promotion of the conservation of associated flora and fauna. Through promoting the protection, conservation and enhancement of habitats and species, HEI is making a significant contribution to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan process and the Government's goal of sustainable development.