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New project aims to uncover the true value of Orkney’s marine environment

The seas around Orkney will be the focus of a new study.

A new approach to valuing the marine environment will be piloted in Orkney over the next two years.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust, in collaboration with Heriot Watt University, aims to highlight the important link between a healthy marine environment and human prosperity, and the project could help shape marine planning in the future.

Dr Sam Collin, marine planning manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Marine planning is increasingly recognised as an essential approach to managing the many pressures on our environment.

“To ensure management is effective, it is essential to understand and identify the different values of the marine environment.

“This project will provide opportunities to incorporate local knowledge, identify ‘hidden values’, and improve our ability to tailor marine plans to meet societal, economic and environmental needs.

“Ultimately we want to identify opportunities for coastal communities to thrive alongside healthy living seas.”

The research project includes comprehensive stakeholder engagement, gaining the views of fishermen, salmon farmers and recreational groups such as divers.

The project will also value the waters around Orkney.

This approach is the first of its kind and will focus on the value of ecosystem services provided by the marine environment, such as healthy and diverse habitats, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, and wave and tidal energy.

By synthesising these two different approaches the Trust will create a comprehensive and informative assessment of the different values the Orkney Islands Marine Region provides to society.

James Green, senior policy planner, development and marine planning team at Orkney Islands Council said: ‘’Orkney waters are extremely valuable to our local communities as they provide many of our natural resources and support many business and jobs.

“Our seas and coasts are also enjoyed for their stunning natural beauty and a wide range of recreational activities.

“The Oceans of Value project provides an opportunity for local people to say what they value about the seas around Orkney, improving our understanding of how the marine environment supports the local economy and quality of life.

“The more we know about what’s important about our marine environment and resources, the better we can manage them and make sure the community benefits for years to come.’’

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