Forvie National Nature Reserve manager Annabel Drysdale outlined the future of the reserve in a talk to members of Ellon Probus Club.
Annabel, a graduate in Ecology and Environmental Science, has been manager since 2005 and as guest speaker informed members that Forvie is managed within the statutes governing the “1984 Wildlife and Countryside Act”, and the “2004 Nature Conservation Act”.
The reserve, which is run by Scottish Natural Heritage, is classified as a “Special area of Conservation” and was once home to Stone Age and Bronze Age people before the shifting sand dunes are thought to have forced them to leave.
The dunes are some of the largest in the country, and natural outcrops of marram grass control their movement. These outcrops encourage other plants to take hold and create large areas of coastal heathland.
The shifting sands and heathland make good homes for many species of birds. sandwich, arctic and common terns, form large nesting sites, and Forvie has the UK’s largest colony of breeding eider ducks.
Predation is a problem and despite an electric fence around the breeding colonies, foxes take their toll, together with crows and seagulls. The mud flats of the Ythan estuary provide a good supply of food for the birds and shelducks and redshanks can also be found feeding there.
The estuary’s seal colony has grown larger over the years, and this has been of particularly concern to anglers on the River Ythan, fearful of a decline in salmon, and sea trout stocks.
However, seal droppings analysed by the sea mammal research unit of St Andrews University have concluded that only a small percentage of these fish make up the seals’ diet.
Annabel underlined the importance of a nature reserve is to raise awareness and safeguard biodiversity. The vision for the future is to provide a well-managed space at Forvie for wildlife and visitors.
In doing so, they intend to let nature control the natural environment of the reserve, checking and monitoring at regular intervals, and securing the habitat where necessary.
The reserve is open to visitors and path networks, viewing areas and other facilities will continue to be provided.
The vote of thanks was made by David Crosley.