AN APPEAL has been launched to help fund the replacement of a popular bird hide recently destroyed by fire on the shores of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.

NatureScot's Mill Hide – built in 2011 and situated on the edge of Kinross – had won awards for its architectural design and was a much-loved place for locals and visitors to enjoy views over the loch and the large number of birds congregating on the water.

Police are still investigating the blaze which destroyed the bird hide on February 18. Many offers of support have been issued from the community prompting NatureScot to lead a campaign to raise funds to re-build the hide through MyParkScotland – Scotland’s only crowdfunding site specifically for nature reserves, parks and greenspaces.

The charred remains of the hide are to be removed in early March, but it is hoped the foundations have survived to support the replacement structure, reducing the overall cost. The original hide cost about £35,000 and it’s anticipated the replacement will be to a similar sum. NatureScot plans to dedicate some funds available this year, but a significant contribution from the community will allow the Mill Hide to be re-built as soon as possible.

NatureScot’s reserve manager Neil Mitchell commented: “The hide was hugely popular, with so many people enjoying this wonderful vantage point for the ducks, geese and swans that feed and roost in Factory Bay – as well as the occasional glimpse of a kingfisher.

“While it’s gutting to see it destroyed, the response from the community and the general public has been amazing. Given this bird watching site’s popularity and fantastic loch side location, we are determined to replace the hide as soon as possible," he continued. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people offering support, so we’ve decided to begin our first ever crowdfunding effort with the aim of re-building the hide as soon as possible.”

Speaking on behalf of Kinross Community Council, Chair Lynne McKay, added: “While we were pleased that no one was injured in the fire, we were all shocked and saddened by the destruction of one of Loch Leven's treasured loch-side facilities. With its award-winning design and vantage point in a beautiful spot at the south-west of the loch, the hide was a much-loved building.

“Like all the residents of Kinross, the Perth & Kinross Councillors and Kinross Community Councillors are fully behind the crowdfunding initiative that NatureScot intends to launch. It is hoped it will enable the re-building of the hide so that it can be restored to its former glory.”

Loch Leven is Scotland’s most visited National Nature Reserve. With more than 250,000 people a year visiting the site and using the Loch Leven Heritage Trail, this bird hide was one of the most visited parts of the reserve. The bird hide won the award for the best "Low Cost Project" at the 2012 Scottish Design Awards.

Those looking to make a donation can do so by visiting