Biodiversity and eco tourism in Aberdeenshire are to be given a major boost by the EU and Scottish Government’s LEADER Programme. It aims to enhance and promote the enduring appeal of the countryside, marine and wildlife.
The funding programme will help local communities develop projects in tourism, biodiversity and farm diversification. There is currently over £130,000 available to invest in projects that restore, manage, or enhance habitats, wild spaces and boost opportunities for wildlife.
Duncan Leece is the Chairman of the North Aberdeenshire LEADER Programme. He is keen to support the natural environment and sustainable rural tourism as a way to both maintain and protect our natural heritage assets and enhance employment opportunities in the area.
“Rural eco tourism is a way for local businesses to attract visitors to the area, and showcasing our incredible coastline and inland environment, including the array of species of birds, animals and plants. The LEADER programme is designed to support projects in rural areas that are innovative, sustainable, good for communities and likely to bring employment opportunities.”
Funding has been set aside for a number of projects that will create or enhance wild spaces, or attract visitors to the North East of Scotland to enjoy nature. From bird watching, to photography, camping and walking, the programme is looking for projects to assist.
Mr Leece said: “The programme is designed to support projects that will further develop biodiversity in the area and use our natural resources in a way that protects them. Many of these projects will attract people to the area and provide community and economic benefits too, as visitors will need places to stay, to eat and drink and shop.”
Visit Aberdeenshire has been at the forefront of the resurgence in North East tourism and members of their team are on the LEADER programme area committee.
There have already been notable successes with the LEADER Programme. Glamping pods have been established in Aden Country Park, as part of a community enterprise, while Macduff Scout Hut has been redeveloped to provide a venue for community groups to meet.
Mr Leece: “We hope to encourage investment from projects that are innovative and will help employment prospects in the area. We would encourage businesses or community groups who intends to invest in biodiversity projects to contact us as we can give help and advice.”
The LEADER Programme can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.