The Trust is joining the local community to celebrate 20 successful years since the community buyout of the Isle of Eigg.
Members of the public including many members of both the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the UK-wide Wildlife Trusts movement helped to raise £1.5 million to purchase the island in 1997. This momentous campaign marked the first time that an entire island was purchased by its community.
Dr Kenny Taylor, who led the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s involvement in the campaign to purchase the island in the 1990s and is now a member of the charity’s governing Council, said:
“There has always been a positive feeling in the local community towards looking after nature. The fact that so many different habitats can thrive on Eigg show shows how generations of islanders have used and accepted them as part of their lives.
“Very generous and unprecedented public support for the buy-out allowed the people of Eigg to take charge of their own future, something that has been a tremendous success for the island’s wildlife as much as for the islanders.
“The past twenty years demonstrate that a willingness to work with others, seize the day and have a vision of a better future for people and wildlife can be made a reality, however large those challenges may seem. The Trust will continue to work closely with the community to protect Eigg’s rich natural heritage in the decades to come, and ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations.”
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a member of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust alongside the Isle of Eigg Residents’ Association and The Highland Council. The Trust provides advice on conserving the island’s natural heritage and employs a seasonal ranger who works with volunteers and local people to monitor the island’s rich range of wildlife and run public events including weekly guided walks.
Since the purchase, Eigg’s population has increased from 65 to just over 100, and the island has embraced an environmentally-friendly way of life.
Nearly all electricity is generated through renewable energy, new native woodland has attracted wildlife such as hen harriers to breed on the island, fences have been built to protect important habitats, and paths have been laid to help visitors and locals to explore the island.
Covering just 3,000 hectares, Eigg is an incredibly diverse island and includes a range of habitats including native ash and hazel woodland, peatlands, beaches and high cliffs. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Isle of Flowers’ because of the many hundreds of different plants that can be found there.
In 2016, 115 species of bird, 83 of which are known to have bred, were recorded on Eigg as well as hundreds of different butterflies, moths and other insects. There were also regular sightings of marine mammals including seals, dolphins and minke whales.
A new wildlife and walking guide has been published by the Scottish Wildlife Trust to mark the anniversary. It features a number of trails leading from Cleadale Pier, alongside an ID guide of some of the common plants, birds and other wildlife that can be spotted on the island.