As visitors and residents, we benefit deeply from this place. We feel nurtured and restored by the majestic landscapes and dark night skies; the peace and space give us a sense of freedom. The cool seas grow fresh seafood; the hills produce meat. We may catch exciting glimpses of golden or white-tailed eagles, cetaceans, otters and basking sharks…but even if we don’t spot these charismatic beasts, we are reassured to know that they – and the intricate ecosystems they are part of – are out there.
Sadly, the pristine-looking nature that surrounds us is under pressure – both on the land and beneath the waves. High numbers of deer on the hills, and wild fires, prevent natural habitats from recovering and cause the ancient peatlands to release their important stores of carbon. Our seas are threatened by industry, some fishing practices, and plastic pollution. The limited infrastructure struggles to accommodate the seasonal swell of visitors. We are all working together to create a balance for all of nature, including people.
Living amongst this startling beauty and so close to the wildlife, land and sea gives people a strong connection to nature, and a desire to look after our wild home. There are many active local groups caring for land and nature. But it is not only us residents who think this place is special: the area has numerous official protections, each of which proves it is important for a particular quality, habitat or species … which means that caring for it is a national priority for us all.
We are also blessed with renewable natural resources that can help in the global battle against the Climate Crisis: the wind and rain (which can feel a bit too ‘abundant’ at times!) turn turbines to produce clean energy. Repairing peatlands is a ‘nature-based solution’ to keeping carbon locked up in the ground, and there are many young woodlands emerging, which will create havens for wildlife and inhale carbon from the atmosphere.
We are all – visitors and residents alike – so fortunate to be immersed in, and part of, this beautiful nature. It deserves our respect and care. So – we implore each other to support our local efforts to care for nature, to remember to create minimal impact and remember the mantra ‘Leave No Trace’. Keep vehicles on a hard surface; remove all litter and human waste, and remember that even this seemingly damp land can suffer devastating wild fires.
Enjoy this place; love this place, and please help us to look after it.
Read about protected areas in Coigach and Assynt
Download relevant content from local artists from our Sense Of Place Media Library
Back to sense of place Next: Theme six – A place to live