South of Scotland Enterprise invests in new conservation and breeding centre for endangered birds in Scottish Borders.

Community interest company Birds Gardens Scotland CIC has received £25,000 from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), to help develop a seven-acre site to home and breed over 300 birds from across the world.

The unique visitor centre at Oxton in the Scottish Borders has a mission to protect endangered bird and plant species, including those critically endangered. It will also facilitate captive breeding rearing and propagation programmes.

The overall site includes a visitor centre and outdoor classroom and education area (including sensory garden), coffee shop and playground, and hopes to open to the public this Easter or when it is safe to do so.

Owen Joiner, Director and expert bird breeder said:

“This amazing award from SOSE will specifically fund a boardwalk in the outdoor area. This will sit between two ponds -  a lily and fishpond which sees kingfishers coming from the river to spy on the fish, and a small loch which is home to many species of duck and goose, whose existence is under threat in the wild.

“The boardwalk will enable visitors to come hand-to-beak with inspiring birds such as flamingos - creating life experiences. This structure not only makes it safe for visitors to enjoy this area of the grounds; but it will allow us to convey key conservation messages in a fun, recreational and informative greenspace.

“The boardwalk is not a stand-alone project, as from here, an outdoor learning space / classroom will project over the main pond. This outdoor classroom will be invaluable for the outdoor learning opportunities for young and old, which for the coming years in the shadow of Covid19, will be much needed.

“This really is a major piece of superstructure we need, and it allows for so much more to be developed thanks to its presence. “

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise said:

Bird Gardens Scotland is an exciting conservation and breeding project, and I am delighted we have been able to help support it.

“The facility will create a ’community hub’ within the Scottish Borders, and the outdoor classroom and education area will provide a recreational greenspace for visitors to learn more about endangered birds. 

“It has fantastic potential to bring real benefits to the region, and as we look ahead to the recovery from this pandemic, we have a clear vision to attract more visitors than ever to the South of Scotland, in order to support our economy, support local accommodation providers and eateries for example, when it is safe to do so.

“SOSE is here to establish the South of Scotland as a centre of opportunity, innovation and growth and despite the extremely difficult times, we continue to work with local communities and businesses to do this and look to a positive future. We look forward to continuing to support Bird Gardens Scotland in their journey ahead.”