A BUOY collecting environmental data for research is set to be installed at Gartmorn Dam.

The floating data buoy, measuring almost two metres in height, will gather data for world-leading research led by University of Stirling scientists and is set to benefit the area.

It comes with state-of-the-art sensors which can measure water quality near real-time, sending data over the mobile phone network to be accessed by scientists, governmental organisations and communities.

The data buoy will be the latest to be deployed on water bodies in the region as part of the Forth Environmental Resilience Array (Forth-ERA) in a programme led by Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC).

Professor Peter Hunter, Forth-ERA science director at SIEC, said: “This deployment marks the start of an ambitious project to understand changes in water quality and biodiversity at Gartmorn Dam, and to develop evidence to inform the future management of the site.

“In partnership with stakeholders, including Clackmannanshire Council, NatureScot and Scottish Water, as well as landowners and community groups, SIEC identified a range of environmental variables to monitor that would benefit the local community, the work of local authorities and businesses, as well as university researchers.”

Forth-ERA – a first-of-its-kind digital observatory of the Firth of Forth's entire water catchment – will enable scientists to undertake ground-breaking research while allowing local and national organisations to undertake data-led, evidence-based environmental management.

In addition to water quality, Forth-ERA will also support improved monitoring of biodiversity, floods and droughts and air quality.

The buoy is expected to be in place for several years to maximise the value of the data it collects.

Occasional maintenance visits will be required so visitors to the Wee County beauty spot may see a technical team from Forth-ERA travel to and from the buoy on a boat.

Mark Petrie, production maintenance manager at Scottish Water, said: “Gartmorn is our oldest dam and remains in our ownership, although the water body is not used for the public water supply and is leased to Clackmannanshire Council.

“We’ve helped in the selection of biodiversity sensors and to facilitate the deployment of the water quality monitoring buoy.

“We welcome the research at Gartmorn and at other locations and we will integrate the learning from the work into our wider plans going forward.”

Additional devices to collect environmental data will also be installed on land around the dam to monitor bird species, bats, mammals and even visitor footfall.

The project will link into efforts to foster sustainable business opportunities in the Wee County while building vital green skills in the workforce.

It is hoped the lessons learned from establishing a comprehensive and automated monitoring network will in the future be applied to similar projects in Scotland and beyond.