Plans to create Scotland's largest urban heritage and nature park have been given a major boost thanks to a £4.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The Seven Lochs Wetland Park project is a partnership between Glasgow City Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Conservation Volunteers Scotland, working alongside local communities, to bring together 16km² of lochs, parks, nature reserves and woodlands between Glasgow and Coatbridge.
The £6.8m project sets out how the area's heritage buildings, wildlife habitat and archaeology will be improved, protected and brought together to create a new attraction of national significance.
The Seven Lochs Wetland Park will become a major new hub for heritage conservation and learning and engagement, and will leave an important legacy for the communities within and neighbouring the park. When complete, the project will enable local people and visitors to experience the natural and cultural heritage of the Seven Lochs area like never before and help local communities to take ownership of the park for generations to come.
Improved visitor facilities at Hogganfield Loch, Provan Hall, Drumpellier Country Park and Glenboig Life Centre will create gateways to the Seven Lochs.
The project will also see the development of walking and cycling routes linking the gateway sites and improvements to paths, signage, interpretation and management across the whole park, as well as a range of activities for people to enjoy and learn about the heritage, including opportunities for training and volunteering.
Councillor Maureen Burke, Chair of the Seven Lochs Partnership, is delighted by the development and the opportunities it offers local communities.
She said: "This is a unique project and a considerable amount of effort has been put in by partners and local communities. We are thrilled to receive the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund which allows us to move forward with the development of the Seven Lochs Wetland Park.
"It offers people a fantastic opportunity to engage with important natural heritage first hand and increase their understanding of why particular local habitats are internationally important, and how these need to be protected.
"The work that's involved in creating what will ultimately be Scotland's newest and biggest nature park is a great challenge, and one which we are sure everyone, whether a local resident or visitor, will embrace and become actively involved in."
Max Hislop, Programme Manager for the Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership, said:
"The Seven Lochs Wetland Park is an exemplar of Green Network planning and delivery. It is a place with an abundance of natural resources; important natural habitats, historic sites and established places for recreation.
"This major new urban wildlife park will be the jewel in the crown of the wider GCV Green Network and bring a host of benefits for local people and visitors alike."
Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
"HLF is delighted to support this ground-breaking project which will develop nature-based tourism within a mostly urban environment. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, both the history and natural heritage of the area will be protected and celebrated bringing economic benefit to local communities and Scotland as a whole."
Development of the Seven Lochs Wetland Park is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, along with funding from the Seven Lochs Partnership and a wide range of other funders.
Considerable work has also been carried on the project by Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership and Glasgow Building Preservation Trust.
For more information about the Seven Lochs Wetland Park visit www.sevenlochs.org