NATURESCOT, the public body previously known as Scottish Natural Heritage, is setting up a task force to help tackle the bird flu outbreak.
Scores of dead seabirds are washing up on Scotland’s shores following a surge in cases of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
The task force will include conservationists, researchers, civil servants, and council officials.
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s chief executive, said: “The avian flu crisis has been rapidly evolving and deteriorating.
“Tragically, this disease could be with us for some time to come, with early evidence confirming avian flu has moved into our urban gull and raptor populations, developments we and partners are monitoring closely.
“Responding to this crisis involves a national endeavour, and this task force will bring together partners who are already doing fantastic work, to better share expertise and co-ordinate action on the ground.”
She added: “In the long-term, we know this is an international crisis [that] requires an international response.
“As we look ahead to the biodiversity 15th conference of the parties (COP15) in Montreal this December, protecting and restoring our biodiversity will have a key role to play in our response and resilience to viruses such as avian flu.
“Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, which is currently out for consultation, is responding to this challenge, setting out ambitious plans to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.”
Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.
Plus, read about the impact of bird flu on shooting estates in the August issue of Scottish Field magazine.