As Scotland’s flora and fauna begin to recover from the country’s dreich winter, more hands are needed to continue to protect it.

From the seals on St Abb’s Head to the tens-of-thousands-strong seabird colonies on St Kilda, vital projects undertaken by the country’s largest conservation charity depend on seasonal recruits.

The National Trust for Scotland has spotlighted the work of eight seasonal conservation roles made possible through fresh funding.

The staff, both returning and new recruits, will advance the charity’s species monitoring, habitat restoration and regeneration work.

Included within the seasonal staff is seabird and marine ranger Craig Nisbet who has returned to St Kilda for his third season this April.

When the opportunity first came up, Mr Nisbet traded a job in the tropical Seychelles, for a chance to live and work on the Scottish archipelago.

“My work on St Kilda for the National Trust for Scotland is massively inspiring and living in this incredible location is an honour and a privilege,” he said.

“Seabird conservation has never been as important as it is now, with our populations facing multiple threats to their survival, most notably as a result of the recent avian influenza outbreak internationally.

“Playing a part in developing a greater understanding of these threats will help to improve conservation measures that can be taken to benefit seabird populations now, and in the future.” 

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The roles are supported by funding from the Love Our Nature project led by People’s Postcode Lottery alongside additional funds from the Postcode Earth Trust.

Since 2014, more than £2.5m was raised by the lottery for NTS’ work.

It will also facilitate the building of new footpaths and interpretation at Corrieshalloch Gorge, improved monitoring and research equipment for studying seabird colonies on St Kilda, and a new boat at St Abb’s Head to enhance seabird and seal censuses.

Another of the seasonal roles will involve plant monitoring on Scotland’s tenth highest Munro, Ben Lawers,

Lewis Donaghy will return to the site after working as a seasonal ecologist there in 2021.

“The job focuses on conservation efforts, and I have a strong desire to contribute to them and hope that I can provide information that will help to sustain and grow the rare mountain assemblage of plants in this incredible location,” he said.

Jordanna Kitching returns to St Abb’s Head in her role as an engagement ranger in which she will support outreach to local schools and assist with wildlife monitoring.

She said: “I am so excited to be returning to St Abb’s Head and this season promises to be jam-packed with an exciting range of events and outreach activities that aim to share the amazing nature, wildlife and history that we have at the reserve with the public.”

Engagement ranger Lindsay Warner continues in her role at Glencoe while Emily Wilkins continues as a ranger on the island Staffa, joined by new member of staff Louise King –thanks to the support provided by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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NTS chief executive Philip Long OBE said: “From the eradication of invasive plant species to managing biosecurity of seabird colonies on our remote islands, our charity’s work has been greatly enhanced by this additional funding and has helped leverage further support from our donors, as well as vital funding from our members and wider supporters to protect and care for our country’s natural heritage across the length and breadth of Scotland. 

“We have worked tirelessly to help improve biodiversity and reduce the impacts of climate change for the wildlife that call our National Nature Reserves home, from the seabirds on the distant island archipelago of St Kilda, 41 miles off the coast of the Outer Hebrides, to the seals on the beach under the rugged coastal headland of St Abb’s Head, near the Scottish border.”

He added that the Love Our Nature project supports the NTS’s 10-year strategy and their ambitions to allow “flourish and enrich Scotland’s protected heritage.”

Head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, Laura Chow, said: “We’re thrilled that our players are able to support the return of experienced seasonal staff to continue the crucial conservation work taking place at the National Trust for Scotland’s National Nature Reserves.

"These spectacular locations are key in the efforts to tackle the climate crisis by safeguarding the natural habitats of wildlife and the flora and fauna for future generations to enjoy.”