As a councillor, I receive many requests to back particular campaigns or causes. However, the most unusual so far is to become a “Highlands Species Champion” – something councillors were asked to do at a recent Environment Committee. Some may think protecting wildlife shouldn’t be a priority for councillors, with so many other important issues facing us. It’s a quick and simple way of raising the profile of the fantastic wildlife that we can find across the Highlands. Helping to conserve that rich natural heritage surely must be an important role for local councillors? And wildlife tourism is estimated to boost the Scottish economy by over £275 million a year. Just look at Wild about Lochaber, to see what they are doing to promote wildlife tourism in the area and we even have an annual Wildlife Festival with lots of local events.
With eighty different species to choose from, some of them extremely obscure, it would have been easy to pick one of the iconic species; the Golden Eagle, Pine Marten or Red Squirrel. Instead I am championing a butterfly, a very important one to us in Lochaber. The Mountain Ringlet is found in only a few colonies in the United Kingdom. I have been privileged to see them, on a beautiful summer’s day, on the slopes of Meall Cumhann in Glen Nevis. Now, I am looking forward to finding out more about the challenges they face and the efforts to both conserve them and record their distribution in Lochaber.