100 years since the passing of Scotland born John Muir, founding father of the conservation movement, the age of protecting our seas is dawning.
In the same way that John Muir foresaw the necessity to protect sites of natural beauty and scientific interest in the face of a growing industrial age, Scots have been campaigning for the protection of their rich and diverse marine habitats. The seed of John Muir’s National Park legacy has been growing throughout the century and the Scottish Government has today (24/07/2014) approved implementation of 30 designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Marine Scotland, JNCC, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Historic Scotland and Marine Scotland Science have been working together to select suitable areas identified for a range of special features. Marine Conservation Society has championed campaigns for the protection of our seas, doing a magnificent job in lobbying and raising awareness amongst members of the public in Scotland and throughout the UK. These 30 new MPAs covering 12% of Scottish seas shall greatly add to the existing network of Nature Conservation MPAs, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Our ecosystems are threatened by an overwhelming increase in human activities such as dredging, over-fishing, marine traffic, pile driving and industrial development. Research shows that protecting areas from these activities produces positive effects on not only the immediate area; surrounding and transient life shall also experience a population boost. These MPAs are intended to safeguard marine creatures and their habitats including, coral gardens, sponges, jewel-like anemones, scallops, basking sharks, leatherback turtles, seals, dolphins, towering sea mounts and all the glorious diversity of the underwater world. In essence, when you protect one thing in an interdependent environment, you can’t help but start a wave of positivity!
Congratulations to all who have worked so hard for this!
By Amy Ferguson
Image Source: Matt Barnes, Marine Conservation Society