THREE BIODIVERSITY projects in Scotland are to benefit from an investment of £170,000.

The funding has been awarded through the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund and will allow farmers, crofters and land managers to create improved opportunities for nature, adapt to climate change and benefit from new organic farming materials.

The Scottish Government announced the funding in the hope that agricultural businesses will contribute to the green economic recovery by farming more sustainably.

“It is important that we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with a green economic recovery," said Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon. "Projects like these help farmers and crofters in rural and island communities to explore new ways of protecting and restoring biodiversity, habitats and ecosystems.

“With this latest funding the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund has now invested around £6 million in projects that will help us to grow a sustainable, vibrant and innovative rural economy.”

One of the projects to receive £47,320 from this fund is 'Biodiversity Monitoring in Shetland', facilitated by Shetland Livestock Marketing Group. Shetland is home to high numbers of waders such as lapwing and curlew but nationally, these birds have seen dramatic declines. This pilot project will give land managers an opportunity to learn about the birds on their own land, and what they need to successfully nest and raise chicks. The participants will collect information which will be used to measure the quality of fields for waders, and produce best-practice guidance to share management methods that work for waders with the wider Shetland agricultural community.

Commenting on the project, RSPB Conservation in Shetland advisor Nathalie Pion said: “Waders depend on how farmers and crofters manage their land. Farmers’ knowledge and skills are key to their protection.”

Soil Association Scotland is facilitating the 'Farming for Biodiversity' project which will receive £57,744 in funding. This project will focus on practices to increase biodiverse habitat within enclosed farmland. It aims to increase the environmental and business performance of agricultural businesses by enabling farmers, crofters, and land managers to adapt to climate change, help restore biodiversity and ecosystem health, meet growing demand for nature and climate friendly food and be a key driver for Scotland’s green recovery.

“Soil Association Scotland’s Farming for Biodiversity project will allow us to develop a framework to benchmark the ways grazing livestock can rebuild natural capital as well as produce nutritious food,” said Soil Association's Colleen McCulloch.

The third recipient of £68,246 is a project examining the potential uses of basic silicate rocks to capture CO2.

These rocks, originating in the quarrying sector, have recently gained product approval for use in organic farming as soil input. This project aims to collect data, identify features of the practice and encourage uptake of this agricultural input to the wider agricultural sector.

Debs Roberts of the Scottish Organic Producers Association, which is facilitating the project, commented: “This exciting project is an excellent example of grassroots farming grasping the opportunity to work with cross-sector partners in the academic sector.”