Conservation project at Auchtermuchty Common

Muchty's Flying Flock
Muchty's Flying Flock
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AUCHTERMUCHTY Common is set to become a pioneer in Scottish conservation excellence after being awarded a £62,000 grant.

The Macduff Trust – which owns and manages the 12-hectare common for the people of the town – has been successful in securing 100 per cent funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Fife Environment Trust and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation which will enable it to carry out a three-five year conservation project.

The Auchtermuchty Common Conservation Grazing Project will begin this autumn and could lead the way to the common, with its rare and beautiful flowers and butterflies, becoming a site of excellence from which other conservation groups can learn.

The funding will allow the trust to begin a three-five year conservation and grassland management plan on advice from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

A report from SNH in the summer found the grassland was in an unfavourable condition and grazing on a more regular basis was said to be the best option for improvement.

Now, thanks to the funding package permanent grazing areas will be installed and the ‘Flying Flock’ of sheep belonging to the Scottish Wildlife Trust will graze the common in rotation for most of the year and help battle the encroaching scrub and willow herb.

The money will also cover the cost of having a storage container on site as well as buying specialist tools and equipment which will allow the conservation work to be undertaken.

However, the success of the project relies on the ongoing support of the Auchtermuchty community as well as trust volunteers who are required to undertake the work that can’ be solved by grazing alone, as well as ‘lookers’ who check the welfare of the sheep each day.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are committed to helping the community feel involved in the heritage of their community and in taking a pride in saving this special place for future generations to enjoy.

“Without the generosity of HLF, FET and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation this project would not be taking place and the common, which was granted a Royal Charter by James V in 1517, would be in danger of reverting to scrub and this little piece of ancient meadow would be lost forever.”

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see volunteers so fully involved in this project to restore and conserve the biodiversity of this rare expanse of historic unspoiled grassland.”

Anyone who would like more information on the work of the Macduff Trust should email macduff@auchtermuchty.co.uk or write to:The Secretary, Macduff Trust, c/o Auchtermuchty Community Centre, Distillery Street, Auchtermuchty, KY14 7BY.