'Lost world' is home to rare species
Published: 17 December, 2010
DISCOVERIES of rare and endangered species on an Inverness-shire estate are putting it on the map as the "lost world" of the Highlands, according to a conservation charity.During the year, Trees for Life has unearthed a number of notable finds on its 10,000 acre Dundreggan Estate, including:
* The strawberry spider (Araneus alsine), a nationally scarce species previously only recorded seven times in Scotland.
* A rare sawfly (Pristiphora borea), an arctic-alpine species only identified in the UK three times before, and only once since 1931.
* The Juniper sawfly (Monoctenus juniperi) classified as rare in the UK's Red Data Book of endangered species.
* The nationally scarce, a species that enslaves other ants.
Alan Watson Featherstone, the charity's executive director, says the discoveries are beginning to capture the imagination of the public.Today, to mark the end of United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, the charity says it will seek more funding to carry further surveys for the Glen Moriston estate, which lies to the west of Loch Ness.Mr Featherstone explained the "remarkable discoveries" at Dundreggan were rapidly establishing its reputation for nurturing an important range of species that are rare or were once thought to be extinct locally."Given the loss of biodiversity globally, the richness of life on the estate highlights the importance of on-the-ground conservation projects, and the urgency of restoring Scotland's Caledonian Forest to the Highlands."People are realising biodiversity is not just exotic creatures in tropical rainforests or coral reefs - there is actually a lot of interest here in our own country but we haven't really looked enough in the past."The charity is half way through a dragonfly survey and plans to look at slugs and snails as well as other invertebrate groups in the future.It purchased the estate in 2008 for £1.65 million and is planting half a million trees, developing scientific research and education programmes and supporting the return of rare woodland wildlife and plants.See www.treesforlife.org.uk for more information on the International Year of Biodiversity and its finds, or www.biodiversityislife.net