“To act as a forum for the discussion of matters relating to the natural environment of Stratherrick and Foyers. To promote the economic and social importance of the sustainable land use in the wider countryside and to encourage environmentally sustainable projects which would provide environmental, social and cultural benefits for the local community.”
Over the past ten years, BEN has had a close involvement with the Forestry Commission, the main landowner in the area. We have made a number of recommendations on native woodland restoration, improvements to riparian habitats and species conservation that have been incorporated into the FC’s design plans.
BEN has also made constructive comments and, occasionally, formal objections to all the alternative energy developments in Stratherrick (at one time there were 10 schemes being planned or under construction). Current planning applications for wind factories on Dunmaglas Estate and on Corriegarth Estate are awaiting a final decision by the Scottish Government and by Highland Council. There is also a hydro scheme proposed for the Farigaig River. The Farigaig woods are a Special Area of Conservation, a site of European importance, and so BEN is keeping a watchful eye on developments and will respond if need be. Any large development that appears to be excessively damaging to the natural environment will be scrutinised by the group and responded to if there is concern.
BEN, as a local community group, can source funding for environmental projects. The Wildlife Recording Group was formed after a two year funded project which enabled local people to access tuition from wildlife experts. The group now has an ongoing commitment to recording species found locally. Our Wildlife Recording Group collects records of plants, animals, birds and insects, and these records are passed on to the national databases. It is satisfying to see the map of Stratherrick & Foyers slowly fill up with species not previously recorded for the area. Recording the biodiversity of different habitats enables BEN to make informed judgements on land management issues in the area. Currently, we are conducting a survey of veteran trees and aspen stands. Funding for this project comes through the Highland Council Biodiversity Action Plan.
BEN has sponsored both Foyers Primary School and Stratherrick School in environmental projects. Foyers school’s project “A year in the Life of Loch Bran” has been highly commended within Highland Region and is an ongoing project with each new intake of children. Interpretive boards, illustrating some of the children’s work, have been installed near the loch.
BEN sponsored Stratherrick School in their School Grounds project promoting recycling and wildlife gardening. An outdoor willow classroom has been established for the children to use in good weather.
Funding has been obtained for a range of projects established by BEN over the last few years. The promotion of Real Nappies, compost bins and bottle banks have been projects run by BEN.
BEN is a small group of interested individuals in the local area and is always looking for other enthusiasts to join us. If you are interested in issues relating to land management and the environment, enjoy wild life, wild land and wild places, please get in touch.
BEN’s Secretary is Jane O’Donovan, Treasurer is Heather MacLeod. Rosemary Holt (Wildlife Recording Group), plus Neil Mackenzie, John Parrott and Valerie Weir who are also on the committee.
As the community website becomes established, more information will be added and hopefully an exchange of ideas and opinions will take place.
An informal meeting to revitalise the group is taking pace at The Old School, Errogie on April 5th at 7:30pm.
Please contact Heather if you would like to come along.
Here are links to two of BEN’s reports published in recent years: