Funding boost for rare Scots bumblebee preservation

A PROJECT to stop the decline of a rare type of bumblebee only found on the north coast of Scotland has received a major financial boost of over £100,000.

The great yellow bumblebee. Picture: Contributed

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has welcomed £116,880 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help with its efforts to make Thurso the UK’s first great yellow bumblebee town.

The endangered species depends on coastal grassland to help them pollinate and the Caithness area is one of the few mainland areas where they can still be found.

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In the UK they are only found on the north coast and in the islands, though they are found more commonly across Europe and Asia.

The project has been match-funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Postcode Community Trust and the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund.

The funding will go towards creating and managing habitats for the bumble bee and other pollinators, and carry out vital survey work to inform understanding of the current population status of bumblebees in Caithness.

BBCT conservation officer for Scotland, Katy Malone, said: “It is fantastic news, and a great boost for the biodiversity of Caithness - not just rare bees in Thurso, but a whole host of essential pollinators and the wildflowers they depend on all over the county.”

Colin McLean, head of the HLF in Scotland, said: “Bumblebees are a crucial part of the UK’s ecosystem and our natural heritage so it’s alarming to see how numbers have been declining in recent years.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, this innovative project will enable the BBCT to better reach and engage with the general public on this important subject helping safeguard bumblebee populations for future generations.”

BBCT chief executive, Lucy Rothstein said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The great yellow bumblebee is one of the two most endangered UK bumblebees and Caithness is one of the last mainland strongholds for the species.

“This project will help to safeguard existing populations of the Great Yellow and other pollinators in Caithness through awareness raising, active conservation work and by training local volunteers in bumblebee monitoring.

“It is a truly exciting project.”