Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 11:58 UK

Plan to protect region's wildlife

Grayling butterfly
Grayling butterflies are usually found in coastal areas

Rare butterflies which have made a former steelworks site in Lanarkshire their home are among the species to be protected by a new action plan.

The biodiversity plan, launched by North Lanarkshire Council, will support the survival of important species and unique environments.

Grayling butterflies, usually found in coastal areas, have settled on the former Ravenscraig site.

The region is also home to Scotland's only population of bean geese.

About 500 of the birds, which breed in Scandinavia, Russia and north Asia, visit the UK each winter with half of them spending the winter grazing on the Slamannan plateau south-east of Cumbernauld.

The council described the biodiversity plan as a "conservation blueprint" which would raise public awareness about rare and important species and sites of scientific interest.

Conservation efforts

A colony of red squirrels also inhabits the Carron Forest, and Scotland's largest population of great crested newt lives in Gartcosh.

Councillor Helen McKenna, convener of the council's environmental services committee, said: "This plan will continue the good work we have already put in place, and help to maintain North Lanarkshire's unique natural environment.

"It will help us to increase public awareness of, and involvement in, conservation efforts; and it will identify priorities for conservation in North Lanarkshire.

Children planting bumblebee garden
Children from Gartsherrie Primary helped launch the plan

She added: "We work with a wide range of partners, including the Forestry Commission, Central Scotland Forest Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.

"I look forward to continuing those partnerships and to watching our wildlife continue to flourish and grow."

To mark the launch of the plan, pupils from Gartsherrie Primary in Coatbridge helped countryside rangers plant a bumblebee garden in the grounds of Summerlee Heritage Centre, which will now form part of the part of centre's Industrial Wildlife Trail.

Plants for the garden were specially chosen for their scents, which will attract and support butterflies and bees.

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