A PROJECT aimed at better connecting Clackmannanshire and its surrounding areas to wetland life had received a £120,000 boost.

The Inner Forth Futures Wetland Network has been awarded £119,415, thanks to a grant from the NatureScot Biodiversity Challenge Fund, to create and improve wetland habitats at five sites around the Inner Forth between now and 2021.

A total of over 15hectares (ha) of new habitat will be created, with more than 155ha made better for wildlife.

And the work will benefit more than just wildlife, as wetlands also help increase flood resilience and store carbon.

The work will be carried out at Black Devon Wetlands in Clackmannanshire, Kildean in Stirling, Bluther Wetland in Fife, and Carron Dams and Bothkennar Pools in Falkirk.

Plans include creating new pools, scrapes and hedgerows; cutting back reeds and scrub to open up clear water areas; removing invasive species like giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed and installing new fences to manage grazing pressures.

Toby Wilson, of RSPB Scotland, said: “The Inner Forth is incredibly valuable for its wetland habitats, with some parts of international importance.

“This is especially true as we have lost an estimated 35 per cent of our wetlands in the UK over just the last 40 years.

“This project will not only create much needed new wetland habitat, but most importantly help link existing wetland areas.

“This means wildlife will be able to move more easily through the landscape using a network of pools and hedgerows, allowing it to spread and thrive.

“We hope this project will provide a blueprint for others, so that eventually we will have a nationwide network of habitats that will help tackle the biodiversity crisis, and benefit both wildlife and people.’

“The project is led by RSPB Scotland on behalf of the Inner Forth Futures Partnership, a group of nine organisations working together to help protect and promote the area’s natural and cultural heritage.

“RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falkirk, Stirling and Fife Councils will manage work at individual sites.”