Having carried out two hugely important consultation exercises, which have helped shape the proposed Flow Country World Heritage Site boundary and associated draft management plan, The Flow Country Partnership are pleased to release a summary report which includes responses to the issues raised. The report can be accessed here, and the revised boundary can be accessed here.
This has been a hugely engaging process and one which we have seen a significant increase in participation: up 40% on the 2019 consultation exercise. This was aided by ongoing engagement with stakeholder groups (providing presentations and answering questions), extensive local and national press coverage (over 30 articles published in 2022), a social media campaign and a region wide mail drop (19,446 leaflets delivered). The feedback we have received has allowed us to fine tune the boundary and the draft management plan in consideration of the wide range of views provided. Around 80% of attendees of the 16 drop-in sessions registered support for the project and 74% of those who left comments on the online portal recorded supportive sentiments.
The feedback received has been instrumental in shaping the documentation which is now in the final stages of preparation before being submitted to the UK Government, who will in-turn submit the nomination for World Heritage Status to UNESCO by the 1st of February 2023. We will then receive an evaluation visit from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on behalf of UNESCO during 2023, and following consideration by the World Heritage Committee an outcome will be known by mid 2024. If the Flow Country is inscribed on the World Heritage list the draft management plan will be subject to a further round of public consultation before being proposed to The Highland Council for adoption.