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No place like home for rare northern damselfly in Badenoch and Strathspey


By Tom Ramage

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One of the new lochans in the strath which will provide habitat for the northern damselfly.
One of the new lochans in the strath which will provide habitat for the northern damselfly.

It does not look like much but this pond is life and death to another of the Cairngorms’ most precious jewels.

The British Dragonfly Society is currently managing a large project to improve the fortunes of the rare and endangered northern damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum).

While it’s widespread in northern Eurasia, the species is restricted to elevated or bog-like sites towards the west and south of its range.

In Britain, it is confined to a few small ponds and lochans in Strathspey as well as one or two in Deeside and the north of Perthshire.

Northern Damselfly female. Picture: Iain Leach/British Dragonfly Society.
Northern Damselfly female. Picture: Iain Leach/British Dragonfly Society.

Andrea Hudspeth, BDS’s Scotland projects officer, explained: “The project aims to restore 10 ponds across Strathspey and Deeside and also to dig 10 new ones across the same area by March 31.

“It’s hoped this will create and enhance more suitable freshwater habitat for the northern damselfly.

“As many of the known sites have become less favourable due to lack of management or from development – such as the destruction of the pond at the planned Tesco development in Aviemore in 2014 – more suitable habitat is needed to prevent the species from becoming extinct in Britain.

“The creation of new ponds will also improve connectivity of habitat allowing for migration between sites.”

The Tesco site is now part of the Aviemore Retail Park.

The project is being funded by the Scottish Government via the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

The BDS have been working with local landowners and managers to agree sites for pond improvements and creation.

Using local contractors the project has so far improved five out of an identified nine existing ponds and created seven out of 11 ponds at identified sites.

Find out more about the endangered Northern Damselfly here


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