IT'S a tough choice - the Brown Hare or the Narrow Headed Ant?

Councillor Thomas Prag, chair of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee at Highland Council, is facing the dilemma over which to adopt as part of a new project to champion various species.

All councillors are being asked to assume the extra responsibility of championing an animal or plant.

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They would highlight its importance and the issues affecting it in any relevant debates or where other opportunities arise.

Part of the role would also be learning more about that species and also trying to see it in the wild.

Some 80 species in total are being mooted.

There is a soil fungus called Scutellospora dipurpurescens, which helps Bluebells absorb phosphate.

This species relies on undisturbed soils and can be affected by development and land management.

An expected entry is at the larger end of the list, the Golden Eagle, recently voted Scotland's national bird.

A significant proportion of its population is found in the Highlands, so councillors are being reminded of their responsibility for it.

The key issue for this noble bird here is the quality of upland habitats and the availability of live prey such as Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and rabbits. These species also need champions.

Then there is the juniper whose berries are used to make gin. Until the late 18th century, tens of thousands of sacks of berries were exported from Aberdeen to Holland to make the spirit. The big issues are managing grazin, and the a disease called Phytophthora.