The Natural History of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Conference
Saturday 27th November 2004


Glasgow Natural History Society has had a long history of studying and enjoying the natural history of the West of Scotland. The Society celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2001. The celebrations included a historical review of the Society's activities, published in the Glasgow Naturalist (volume 23, part 6, 2001) and a major conference on Alien Species, published as a supplement to the Glasgow Naturalist (volume 23 supplement, 2001). The conference was such a success that the Society's Council resolved to organise another one in the not too distant future.

In looking for a theme, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs came easily to mind. Under the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 the area was soon designated as Scotland's first National Park. An enquiry into the natural history of the Park seemed an obvious subject for a second conference.

In planning the conference, we were keen to blend the professional and the amateur. The study of natural history in the UK has long thrived on the work of enthusiastic amateurs, as well as professional biologists. One of the Society's major activities each year is a series of field excursions. As preparation for the conference, the 2004 excursion programme was dominated by visits to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area, and excursion leaders were invited to contribute to the Conference.

Another important aspect of the Society is our Blodwen Lloyd Binns Bequest fund, which awards small grants to natural history projects, especially in the West of Scotland. We were very happy, in the run up to the Conference, to be supporting several projects in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area, and to be able to call on the researchers involved to report their results to the Conference.

The Society has strong links with the University of Glasgow's Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, based in the Graham Kerr Building, venue for the conference. The Division's Field Station lies at the heart of the National Park at Rowardennan, on the east side of the Loch. Several of the studies reported at the conference were based at the Field Station.

As well as reporting on the natural history of the National Park, we were keen to discuss policy issues. The legislation creates a difficult balancing act between the needs of conservation, recreation and development, and we were able to include contributions from two of the Park's staff plus an independent researcher on how these issues are being tackled.

Finally, in this introduction to the conference's themes, we must mention John Mitchell. John is well known for his role as ecologist at the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve for many years, and for his recent (2001) New Naturalist series book on Loch Lomond. He has long been a member of the Society and has contributed frequently to the Glasgow Naturalist, including a series of articles under the heading Loch Lomondside depicted and described. John was a must for the conference, and we were delighted that he was able to accept our invitation.

Not all of our speakers were able to provide publishable versions of their talks. These are also printed - with some amendments - in The Glasgow Naturalist 24 (3).


We would like to thank Morag McKinnon for dealing with conference reservations and catering arrangements, Hazel Rodway for supplying copious amounts of tea and coffee on the day, Joyce Alexander for organising the excellent excursion programme, Colin Adams for helping to chair the conference, and David Boyd for technical assistance with projection. The Society gratefully acknowledges financial help from Glasgow University's Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

Roger Downie, Conference Organiser and co-chair
GNHS President 2001-4

Richard Weddle, Proceedings Editor

Excursion programme in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area, 2004

( * = described at conference, see links to talks, below)

17th April: Otter tracks, Gartocharn (Dominic McCafferty)
*1st May: Aberfoyle (Ian McCallum)
15th May: Insects at Rowardennan (Geoff Hancock)
*5th June: Kilmun (Bob Gray)
8th June: Balmaha (Hazel Rodway)
12th June:Milarrochy (Edna Stewart)
31st July: Callander's water meadow and Loch Ard forest (Joyce Alexander)
12th September: Bryophytes at Inversnaid (Keith Watson)
2nd October: Fungus foray at Inversnaid (Robin Jones)

Conference programme

Access the text of each talk using the hot-link (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader):

  • Wildlife conservation and biodiversity: practical issues in National Park Management
    Alan Bell (National Park Authority) [974kb]
  • Native woodlands in the Loch Lomond area: there is more than just oaks
    John Mitchell (GNHS) [907kb]
  • Long term change in the moth community of east Loch Lomond: 1968-2003
    Nabeil Salana, John Knowler and Colin Adams (Glasgow University Field Station)
  • The Kilmun aliens
    Bob Gray (GNHS) [14kb]
  • The Aberfoyle circuit
    Ian McCallum (GNHS) [56kb]
  • Recreation in the Loch Lomond area: ecological and perceptual dimensions
    Gillian Dalrymple (Geography, University of Glasgow) [16kb]
  • The aquatic fauna of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs: what have we got; why is it important; how do we look after its future?
    Peter Maitland (Fish Conservation Centre) and Colin Adams (Glasgow University Field Station) [48kb]
  • Diet and distribution of otters in Loch Lomond
    Dominic McCafferty (DACE, University of Glasgow) [173kb]
  • The feral goats of Loch Lomondside, with particular reference to the Inversnaid group
    Tracy Livingstone (British Feral Goat Society) [307kb] Back to the Publications page.