New Scottish Golf course threatens extinction of one of the UK’s rarest insects

Due to last week’s Open Championship at Troon, golf has been in the headlines a lot in the last week or so. Especially in Scotland. So it was only fitting that I write a golf, and Scotland, related article.

A new golf course is in planning in the Scottish Highlands, near the Dornoch Firth. Unlike Donald Trump’s now infamous course in Scotland, this course directly threatens Scotland’s wildlife. As with Trump’s course it is the location of the course which causes the issue. However, unlike with Trump, it is the course itself which causes the issue. The new course puts one of Scotland’s rarest species at an increased threat of extinction.

Fonseca’s seed fly is globally restricted to only a short stretch of coastline in northern Scotland, an area in which the new course is to be built. Although technically the area the fly has been recorded was adjacent to the development area, the habitat is so similar that the fly could very likely be there too. The fly is associated with the Ragwort, Sow-thistle and the sand dune systems found in this area.  The creation of fairways and greens will disrupt the dunes, destroying this fragile habitat for the species and further fragment the already fragile population.

Fonseca’s seed fly is an endemic species extremely vulnerable to extinction, as populations have dropped significantly since the 70s and 80s. Any further loss of habitat will make it even more difficult for this rare species to survive extinction. For an undisclosed reason, Scottish Natural Heritage were not able to survey for the fly’s presence in the development area of this proposed golf course. However, as the insect is almost certainly there, it is vital that the area is surveyed and a plan is put in place to ensure that development doesn’t impact upon the habitat.

 

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As this species is only found in this specific habitat, in this specific part of Scotland, we have an international responsibility to try our best to maintain this species. Although a plan has not yet been put in place, it is vital that the habitat is protected and if possible enhanced.

Buglife have set up an online petition to raise public awareness and gain public support to help stop this destruction. I urge people to sign the petition, which may very help save a unique species from extinction.

Sign the petition at … https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-fonesca-s-seed-fly

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Ben Wright

Ben Wright

I am a consultant ecologist with a special interest in protected species and birds. I have some past experience in science writing. I formally wrote a science column for a local paper, and composed a book based on the column (Science Matters) which has just been published.

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