This May, people in Highland will get an opportunity to take part in a true underground Festival. The Highland Soil Biodiversity Festival comprises nine days of illustrated talks, field visits and guided walks to raise awareness of the importance of our soils and the biodiversity within it both to people and wildlife.
Janet Bromham, Biodiversity Officer with The Highland Council is co-ordinating the Festival. She said:“We have put together a fascinating and diverse programme of events all over Highland to try to answer the questions of; Why does soil matter? What does it do for us? and What lives in and on it?
“We are holding this Festival during Scottish Biodiversity Week because the soil and its biodiversity is fundamental to our lives but we have very little knowledge or understanding of it - and because, well no-one in Scotland has run a week long series of events on it before and I like a challenge. It fits in very well with the Scottish Biodiversity Week theme “Biodiversity is Life – Biodiversity is Our Life” and we hope lots of people across Highland will take this opportunity to find out about the soil around them and its amazing wildlife.”
This Saturday, Scotland’s first ever Soil Biodiversity Forum will take place at Great Glen House in Inverness. It will bring a multitude of soil experts to the surface from their labs, perhaps blinking like moles in the sunlight, to tell us some of the fantastic things they have found out through their research. Some of the highlights will be a passionate lecture on why we should try and leave soils alone, a womble through peat and peatlands and finally looking at how Highland geology and the soils formed from it have influenced our landscape, literature, art and the development of tourism.
Next week two talks from renowned local experts will take place at Eden Court. On Tuesday the 22nd May at 7.30pm well-known nature writer Sir John Lister-Kaye will present, with exquisite photographs, a naturalist's insight into the wonders of the interdependence of soils, habitats and wildlife. On Thursday the 24th again at 7.30pm local historian David Alston will share his extensive and fascinating knowledge to give an illustrated talk looking at the change in the landscape of the Black Isle and Inner Moray Firth brought about by agricultural improvement, explaining why our landscape looks like it does today.
During the week there will be something for everyone, from the Soil Biodiversity Forum, to walks, talks and site visits looking at the animals that live in and on the soil, how soil influences vegetation and land use, and how we can manage our soils better to benefit wildlife and people. The highlight is perhaps the Highland Worm Charming Championship in Lairg – which, of course, will be judged according to strict International Worm Charming Championship rules!”
The Festival is co-ordinated by The Highland Council on behalf of the Highland Biodiversity Partnership, which was set up in 2005 to provide guidance and support to a network of local biodiversity groups, and make progress on the key strategic biodiversity issues in Highland.
It is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme, with match funding from The Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland.
Events run from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 May, visit the Highland Biodiversity Partnership’s website www.highlandbiodiversity.com for a detailed programme and further information. Contact Janet Bromham or Jonathan Willet on 01463 702274 for further information.