Staffin Trust backs new Skye fossil protection scheme

THE Staffin Community Trust and Staffin Museum have both backed a new scheme aimed at protecting important fossil finds in Skye. SCT and the museum in Elishadder, owned by Dugald Ross, have become members of The Skye Fossil Communication Loop which has been set up by Scottish Natural Heritage.

It comes after concerns were raised last year about the loss of important fossils and potential damage from reckless collectors. In 2011, a significant amount of rock was disturbed at Bearreraig Bay, near the Storr Lochs, in what was described as one of Scotland’s most reckless acts of fossil collecting. An event at raising the profile of the problem was held last year with a visit to Staffin famous dinosaur footprints at An Corran which was followed up by a summit in Portree attended by Staffin Trust, the museum, public agencies, the police and charities.

The loop’s objective is to help ensure that important and freshly exposed fossil material on Skye’s coastline is rescued, researched, adequately safeguarded and secured for public exhibition. The loop may also have an important role in reporting any incidents of collecting which has damaged fossils. It is hoped that local residents and visitors to the Staffin area would contact SCT and the museum in those scenarios with the loop to be advertised. That information would then be shared with the rest of the loop, which includes National Museums Scotland, The Hunterian Museum, the Scottish Government, Highland Council rangers and Portree Police Station. Police Scotland’s involvement would enable action to be taken when a suspected offence has been committed.

The Staffin dinosaur footprints in situ.

The Staffin dinosaur footprints in situ.

Skye, often dubbed the dinosaur isle, is the only place in Scotland from which dinosaurs have been found and has more than 10% of the world’s Middle Jurassic dinosaur species and more than 15% of the Middle Jurassic dinosaur sites. Staffin is a hugely important part of those findings, as portrayed in the Skye Ecomuseum Ceumannan and SCT is determined to support the new scheme in any way it can

Procedural guidance, derived from the Scottish Fossil Code, has been prepared for amateur fossil enthusiasts/collectors and the general public and can be read via the SNH website at http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/safeguarding-geodiversity/protecting/skye-fossils/

If fossil material is rescued, exposed or suspected of being damaged then contact loop members Duglad Ross on dugaldross@aol.com or the SCT’s local development officer Hugh Ross on staffin.ldo@gmail.com or 01470 562 464.