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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Islanders seek natural selection
Fingal's Cave
Fingal's Cave is one of the natural wonders of the world
Island communities have joined together to campaign for an integrated approach to protecting some of the most spectacular Inner Hebridean scenery.

The group aims to develop an Archipelago Forum to oversee the management of the Staffa Archipelago.

The area around Mull includes Staffa, the Treshnish Isles, Little Colonsay, Gometra, Ulva, Eorsa and Inch Kenneth.

Islanders are now seeking support for the initiative, aimed at securing Unesco World Heritage Site status.

Letters have been issued to interested individuals and organisations in order to gauge support.

Retaining the unspoilt nature of the Staffa Archipelago is vital
Roc Sandford
Archipelago Forum

The group hopes the forum will attract land managers from each island, community members, nature and tourism bodies and education groups.

Its aims include support traditional fishing, agriculture and tourism, implementing an area wide management plan and aspiring to World Heritage status.

Roc Sandford, of Gometra, said: "Retaining the unspoilt nature of the Staffa Archipelago is vital if we are to sustain and promote this wonderful area, while ensuring it can be enjoyed by future generations.

"Unfortunately, some areas which support important habitats and species have not yet been formally recognised and as such remain vulnerable.

The area is home to seabirds including puffins

"We have formed the Archipelago Forum in order to press for the implementation of an integrated approach to management practices which capture the special remoteness and cultural and spiritual worth of the Staffa Archipelago as a whole."

He added the islands were remote areas of outstanding beauty of national and global significance.

The lack of any intensive agricultural development or significant settlement draws thousands of people a year from all over the world, sustaining many local businesses and benefiting nearby Iona and the Isle of Mull.

Wildlife in the area includes eagles, corncrakes, puffins, otters, whales and dolphins.

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