Edinburgh’s Cammo Estate is set to become the city’s newest local nature reserve.
Council officials have backed the plans, with recommendations to be considered by councillors this week.
The Estate, which lies to the north-west of the city, held a public consultation in June 2016, with a clear majority in favour of updating its status.
The City of Edinburgh Council’s Transport and Environment convener Lesley Hinds told the BBC: “Cammo Estate, which provides an important link to the Almond River and boasts a rich history, is also a haven for local wildlife.
“Its designation as a local nature reserve acknowledges the park’s natural and cultural heritage, but will also ensure it is protected and constantly improved under the management of the council, the community and partners”.
For any parks to be declared as a local nature reserve, they must meet a number of requirements. One such requirement is the need for a level of educational value.
Cammo Estate achieves this through a visitor’s centre which is opened twice a week and is run primarily by volunteers from the Friends of Cammo group (FoC), as well as with support by National Heritage Officers.
The Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) used Cammo Estate as part of their 2008 campaign ‘Aren’t Birds Brilliant’ aimed at highlighting illegal raptor killing. The Estate went on to be used as the first buzzard nest viewing project launched in a Scottish city.
There are a number of other protected plant and bird species on the Estate, including tawny owls, and flora such as water soldiers and rigid hornworts.
Much of the flora is of native heritage, an important aspect of the Estate’s campaign for their status as an local nature reserve.
Cammo Estate was once one of Edinburgh’s grandest private residences, designed by architect Sir John Clerk of Penicuik in the 1690s.
In the twentieth century the Estate fell into disrepair, and was bequeathed to the National Trust of Scotland, before being passed to the Council in 1979.
Now a popular destination for walkers, the site contains ruins of estate buildings, the mansion house, stables, and walled gardens.
Management is another important factor in securing local nature reserve status, with the aim of improving and maintaining the quality of the landscape and wildlife an important feature for consideration.
A five-year management plan has been produced for the estate by The Cammo Advisory Group. The organisation, consisting of representation from FoC and a number of other associations, will be in charge of its implementation until the year 2020.
It is hoped that the updated status of Cammo Estate will contribute towards achieving many of the aims and targets of the Habitat and Species Plans contained within the Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Plan was initially launched in the year 2000 with the aim of enhancing Edinburgh’s natural heritage. The inclusion of Cammo as a local nature reserve would formally mark it as an area of increased importance for both the local people and the wider population of the capital.
Provided the recommendations of the council go ahead, an official celebratory event is set to be held later in the year.
Image: Jk Scotland