for BTCV Scotland’s community Network
People active outdoors: root and branch As always BTCV volunteers and Community Network groups have been busy over the past few months enhancing their local habitats and green spaces. Many of these activities have had a distinctly ‘woody’ feel: hedge and tree planting, rhodie ‘bashing’, erecting bird and bat boxes, and creating woodland paths. BTCV Scotland has recently involved many new woodland volunteers through a project run in partnership with the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS). FCS is keen for more people to engage with their local woods, a surprising number of which lie close to urban areas in the Central Belt. So, with BTCV’s help, groups of adult volunteers have been working to improve
their local woodland (see page 5). And, as the project has demonstrated, woods provide great outdoor classrooms, and wonderful places for youngsters to play games, build dens, and learn about nature. Woodlands are a wonderful natural resource – whatever your age.
Below: Learning forest skills through FELP – page 8
FCS and BTCV Scotland have also organised the Forestry and Environmental Learning Programme (page 7) providing young people with skills and confidence to enhance their job prospects in the forest and environment sectors. It’s an opportunity some of them are very grateful for, summed up by one young lad who said: ”This has been the best three weeks of my life.” Community Network groups have long been involved in tree care and planting schemes, a recent example being the Covenanters Gait Residents Association in Maybole (page 3). And, many Network members are developing community woodlands not only for their wildlife value but as educational, health, and economic assets for the benefit of local people – a topic to be covered in a future Network Bulletin. To find out if a community woodland group exists near you, look on the ‘Community Group Finder’ at www.btcv.org/network or visit the Community Woodlands Association website at: www.community-woods.org.uk There’s a lot happening in our local woods.
Community tree planting in Maybole – page 3
Above: Hurdle making in Dalkeith – page 5
photo: ANDREW MACDONALD
Also in this issue:
➔ A fresh group of Natural Communities trainees have been appointed ............. p2
➔ Rachel Edmans explains her role as a Volunteer Officer.......................... p4
➔ Young folk Get Started in the Environment........................................ p6 ➔ We highlight Community Network members in Barrmill and Dundee............. . ................................................p8 & p10 ➔ The Scottish Flood Forum explains its work............................................... p9 ➔ iSpot is open for business.................... p9 ➔ Scotland’s Environment website......... p11 ➔ VDS volunteer learning online............ p11
Natural Communities – new faces New members A warm welcome to the latest recruits to the Community Network, either as paid Scotland Plus members to access insurance and other services, or as Scotland Standard members who work with BTCV staff on the ground, or who benefit from the many free information, training and networking opportunities available through the Network.
The latest Natural Communities trainees. In the front row, from left to right: Faith Hillier (Froglife), Helen Simmons (Glasgow City Council), Claire Bates (Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh), Amanda Joaquin (BTCV Scotland), Lucy Tozer (Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network), Kate Williamson (Stirling Council), and Judith Hartley (Dumfries and Galloway Biodiversity Partnership). Also pictured are staff and mentors from BTCV Scotland and the other participating organisations – too many people to mention but you know who you are!
Late January 2012 saw the arrival of the second crop of trainees employed on BTCV’s innovative Natural Communities programme. As well as being a great learning opportunity for the trainees, the programme aims to identify ways in which environmental organisations can better engage with communities. How can we connect with people so they better understand, value, and conserve their natural heritage?
Alison Greggans was based with the RSPB at Abernethy in the Cairngorms: “Turning an abstract notion of ‘community engagement’ into something more tangible and meaningful for people and our planet has been a personal journey of discovery. Through Natural Communities I now understand community engagement is more than awareness-raising; it is the kindling of a spark that enables people to make sustained changes that safeguard our planet and its biodiversity. RSPB Abernethy has been my home, my classroom and my inspiration for the past twelve months. With the support and guidance from both RSPB and BTCV I now have a profound appreciation that ‘community engagement’ is as imperative today as it was over 100 years ago.”
That’s the challenge for the latest trainees who are each being employed for a year by BTCV Scotland and hosted by six other organisations – Glasgow City Council, Froglife, Stirling Council, Dumfries and Galloway Biodiversity Partnership, Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Natural Communities is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Natural Communities is co-ordinated by Anthony Morrow who says: “A diverse range of organisations and communities have already been brought together through the programme, including councils, national charities, and community groups. During the past year the trainees engaged with around 100 communities and over 12,000 individuals, which gives some idea of the scope of their work.”
The first wave of trainees found the programme to be a fantastic opportunity to not only develop existing skills but acquire new ones and continue their personal development.
Keep up to date with the Natural Communities trainees via their blogs at www.btcv.org/naturalcommunities
Battlefield Community Group (Glasgow) Bumblebee Conservation Trust (Stirling) Carrick Centre Environmental Group (Maybole) Covenanters Gait Residents Association (Maybole) Crossmichael Environmental Group (Kirkcudbrightshire) Disability Awareness Group (Alloa) Ferryhill Community Council (Aberdeen) Friends of Burngreen Park (Hamilton) Friends of Rouken Glen Park (Giffnock) Kersland School (Paisley) Towards Tomorrow (Alloa) VANL – Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire
Scotland Standard Ayr Grammar Primary School (Ayr) Dalmarnock Legacy Garden (Glasgow) King’s Park Primary School (Glasgow) Gadburn Primary School (Glasgow) St Andrew’s Secondary School (Glasgow) Thistle Childcare Centre (Glasgow)
Many thanks… …to all the individuals and organisations who took part in our recent survey giving us a clearer idea of the types of groups belonging to the Community Network, and of others on our mailing list. All those who responded to the survey were placed in a prize draw with three winners receiving vouchers from the BTCV shop The winners were:
Ist prize (£150) Brenda Roddy, Falkirk Council
2nd prize (£100) Abi Mordin, Urban Roots
3rd prize (£50) Gillian Forster, Green Routes
Maybole makeovers The small Ayrshire town of Maybole has been the scene of much environmental activity recently as two local organisations joined the Community Network to enlist the help of BTCV’s nearby Ayr team. The Covenanters Gait Residents Association and the Carrick Centre have very different locations in the town but both organisations wanted to enhance their immediate surroundings. At the Covenanters Gait housing estate on the outskirts of Maybole, dozens of residents both young and old helped plant 420 young trees or ‘whips’, plus 15 larger ‘standard’ trees. These were all ‘native’ species, the young plants being a mix of rowan, hawthorn, bird cherry, hazel and birch, whilst the standards were chosen for their suitability for wet ground, so were a mix of willow, aspen and alder. As the trees grow they will provide food and shelter for a wide range of birds, insects and animals, plus interest and year-round colour for the residents.
Tree planting at Covenanters Gait. Hilary Hanson of the Residents Association commented:
“With the help of BTCV we’ve enhanced our green areas, created wildlife corridors, and improved waterlogged areas. We couldn’t be more delighted. Thank you!” Meanwhile in the centre of town, BTCV’s team helped to landscape the grounds of the Carrick Centre, a brand new community facility located beside the railway station. Here, the volunteers planted a hedge and several willow trees, and created a small butterfly garden. The plants used were again mainly native species although some non-natives were used in a small formal bed by the centre’s entrance. These features are intended to be attractive to all the centre’s visitors – the people and the wildlife.
Hedge planting at the Carrick Centre.
Both Maybole projects received support from the Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods project which supplied the whips free of charge, whilst the Central Scotland Green Network funded the larger trees and covered other costs. BTCV’s involvement was also possible in part through our own Community Support Fund which provides a helping hand to worthwhile community projects. This Fund is itself supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage. The next issue of the Network Bulletin will list the projects which have received this support over the past year and how groups can access it in the future.
BTCV’s input to the Maybole projects was organised by Katie Stewart, Volunteer Development Officer, and Roger Alexander, Volunteer Officer. Katie was well pleased with the results: “We had a great turn-out of local volunteers at Covenanters Gait working alongside our regular conservation group, and we hope to be involved in further work both there and the Carrick Centre in the future. So, we’ll be back!” Further info: www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Discovering Nature with Rachel Over the past year or so, BTCV Scotland has encouraged its volunteers to take a closer look at the wildlife species existing at the sites where we’re active. This gives volunteers a better, more rounded experience, and highlights the species that will benefit from their work. Someone keen to develop this side of things has been Volunteer Officer Rachel Edmans. Rachel Edmans (kneeling) leading a nature walk in Lord Ancrum’s Wood.
When did you join BTCV? I originally joined BTCV in Edinburgh as part of the Future Jobs Fund in May 2010, with a six month contract as a Volunteer Officer (VO). Suffice to say, I enjoyed the experience immensely and asked to stay on as a ‘voluntary’ VO, and have been here ever since.
What’s been your role? My main role as a VO is to help out with the running of the Edinburgh midweek volunteer group – the day to day organising, but also assisting with planning tasks, site visits, and meeting with clients. My other role is in biodiversity and environmental education, both within BTCV and out in the wider community. As part of this I’ve recently taken on the new role of Discovering Nature Volunteer Officer* which will hopefully allow me to expand BTCV Edinburgh’s biodiversity recording and promotion work, and improve the volunteer experience. Recently this has involved me carrying out nature identification sessions and walks with volunteers at Lord Ancrum’s Wood in Dalkeith (see opposite). And looking a little ahead, I’ll be co-ordinating some events at The Cuddy Bioblitz in Peebles on 25-26 May 2012.
What has been your main contribution? I initiated the successful biodiversity surveying and volunteer environmental education project to the Edinburgh office. I prepared, developed and implemented a small scale environmental education project designed to teach wildflower identification and an introduction to botanical recording to volunteers. I did this through a wildflower identification, recording and
monitoring scheme, through guided wildlife walks, and whilst collecting data for The Wildlife Recording Centre (TWIC). This created the opportunity to enhance the volunteering experience whilst also collecting important biological data. This resulted in: l Volunteers gaining new skills and experiences, which have been taken on and used elsewhere l Collecting valuable biodiversity data for the TWIC and National Biodiversity Network (NBN) databases l All BTCV Scotland offices being given biodiversity surveying equipment to carry out similar activities In addition, during 2011, I co-ordinated BTCV Scotland's presence at Edinburgh Biodiversity Weekend, Altogether in the Park, and North Edinburgh Community Festival. Our input to these events provided informative, interactive, and fun activities to a wide-ranging public audience.
What have you gained from the experience? Primarily confidence, which has led me to provide further activities and to wider audiences. Aside from this, I’ve learned the usual practical based conservation activities carried out across BTCV e.g. tree felling, wetland construction, invasive species management, path maintenance – all in a variety of habitats, and weather conditions! I’ve also achieved my First Aid certificate and Pesticides licence, as well as undertaking various training courses, from tree planting to leadership skills.
What have been the highlights? l Getting the volunteers involved in surveying and identification work is very satisfying, particularly when volunteers actually remember something I’ve told them! Also, several of them have gained a real interest in the subjects that we cover and have taken these skills and used them elsewhere in their lives and careers. l Meeting excellent, like-minded people l Being trusted enough to be ‘let loose’ in running biodiversity activities l Getting covered in mud!
Where would you like your experience with BTCV to lead? I hope that the experience I’ve gained from this position – from running the day-to-day activities and community events, through to my biodiversity surveying and recording project, will enable me to secure a full time funded post in the environmental sector. I’d like to specialise in either community environmental education or biodiversity surveying research. NB Potential employers can contact Rachel at: Edinburgh@btcv.org.uk
*In time we hope each BTCV Scotland office will have its own ‘Rachel’ – a Discovering Nature Volunteer Officer to help out with normal VO duties but also to organise biodiversity learning and biological recording.
At work in the woods If you’re a regular visitor to Lord Ancrum’s Wood, the snap of fallen twigs underfoot and folk walking their dogs will have been joined recently by other, less familiar, sights and sounds as people busied themselves amongst the trees. These were volunteers helping to ‘manage’ the wood to keep it in good shape for the benefit of the local wildlife and people (and not forgetting their dogs!). Lord Ancrum’s Wood overlooks the historic Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith, just south of Edinburgh. The wood was one of a number of sites chosen by the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), for a ‘pilot’ project looking at ways of encouraging engagement by communities with their local FCS woodlands in locations such as Easterhouse (Glasgow), Johnstone (Renfrewshire), Kelty (Fife) and Shotts (North Lanarkshire). All of the woods lie within the boundaries of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN).* BTCV’s role has been to recruit and organise the volunteers. At Lord Ancrum’s Wood the volunteers took part in various activities: tree thinning, path maintenance, and perhaps the most interesting task was the construction of a traditional wooden hurdle. This was achieved by cutting and then weaving long, thin branches around stakes driven into the ground to create a barrier – in this case between the wood and the adjoining golf course. It wasn’t all hard graft though as the volunteers had the opportunity to go on nature walks to discover what plants and other wildlife inhabit the wood. These walks were led by Volunteer Officer Rachel Edmans (see opposite). The Dalkeith project was organised by Chris Peach, Volunteer Development Officer, who said: “The partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland has been a great opportunity for us to engage new volunteers from new communities and get more people active in their local woodland.” “I liked being outdoors with good people and seeing a result at the end of the day.” – Rachael Mackenzie, Dalkeith volunteer It’s not only adults who have been involved in the programme. At some of the woods school pupils have enjoyed outdoor nature lessons and nursery toddlers have played nature games. Whatever their age we hope this taste of woodland activities will encourage those who’ve taken part to spend more time looking after and enjoying their local woods. Learn more about the work of the Forestry Commission Scotland at: www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
*The CSGN area stretches from Inverclyde and Ayrshire in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east. For information visit: www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org
Outwith the Central Belt, BTCV has joined FCS and Aberdeenshire Council to run a community project at Battlehill Wood, by Huntly. We didn’t have space to feature it in this Bulletin, so next time!
Getting Started in the Environment A blustery winter’s morning on an allotment isn’t where you normally expect to find a group of young folk hard at work but that was certainly the scene in Glasgow recently. Eight 18-25 year olds had gathered at Mansewood Allotments on the city’s Southside to complete their Get Started in the Environment programme. Get Started in the Environment (GSITE) is a four week programme of outdoor activities for young people to help boost their confidence, skills and job prospects. GSITE is organised by the Prince’s Trust and BTCV Scotland, several programmes having been run so far in different locations. During the recent Glasgow programme the young folk undertook a range of activities at sites in and around the city: rhododendron clearance at Pollok Park, pond creation at Pedmire Marsh (Carmunnock), birch tree removal at Lenzie Moss, path clearance on the Kelvin Aquaduct, tree thinning at Bishop Wood (Easterhouse), and a range of work at Mansewood Allotments including pond creation, bulb and apple tree planting, building raised beds, and erecting bird boxes (above). However, the most popular activity was undoubtedly constructing tree enclosures at Chatelherault Country Park, by Hamilton. The programme was topped off with a ‘chillout’ day at a forest campsite at Aberfoyle where the group had a barbeque and campfire plus football and games. They all had a good time, despite the rain! By completing the programme the young people not only gained
a Prince’s Trust Certificate of Achievement but also the John Muir Discovery Award. The programme was organised by Bernadette (Bernie) Gemson of the Prince’s Trust and BTCV’s John Johnstone. John was very happy with the outcome: ”They were a really good team to work with and they enjoyed the activities we laid on for them, particularly the construction tasks. Most are moving on to further opportunities and I’m particularly pleased that one of them is progressing on to the FELP scheme (see opposite).”
Some of the guys planting an apple tree at Mansewood with Jan McDonald.
Many thanks to the following individuals for providing suitable worksites for the group: Steven Cole (Waterways Trust Scotland), Iain MacLean (Froglife), Stuart McFarlane (Mugdock Country Park), Gareth Morgan (Chatelherault Country Park), and Jan McDonald (Mansewood Allotments). Further programmes are planned over the coming months in Perth & Kinross, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, and Edinburgh – all providing opportunities for young people to Get Started in the Environment. www.princes-trust.org.uk
The team with their Prince’s Trust and John Muir Discovery Awards.
PHOTOS BY ANDREW MACDONALD
Help through FELP In recent months two groups of young people have had the opportunity to improve their life chances through the Forestry and Environmental Learning Programme (FELP), as Julia Duncan, Programme Co-ordinator, explains: FELP is a ten week training programme, designed by BTCV Scotland for 18-25 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, which aims to increase employability and opportunities for career development in the environmental and forestry sectors. FELP offers a fast-track menu of high quality training – a mix of stimulating classroom work and on-the-job training opportunities. All the formal training courses are accredited and hands-on learning takes place at key Forestry Commission Scotland sites. In addition, the programme includes an accredited five day employability course, ‘Empower’, which has been a firm favourite with the trainees. The programme has included all the main ingredients for preparing for work and is specifically designed for the 18-25 age range. Areas covered have included goal setting, writing a CV, job search, communication, and preparing for a ‘live’ interview for a forestry post. The training has been complemented by a week-long work placement with an external organisation. This was an opportunity to learn new skills and travel to new places – as well as cope with the daily necessity of getting up at a very early hour! FELP is a highly ambitious project which has been both rewarding and challenging to deliver. Most rewarding is the feedback we’ve gained from our trainees who rapidly gain confidence and skills and repeatedly thank us for this opportunity. Getting to know them has been both enjoyable and educational as we gain a better understanding of their backgrounds, how they learn, and what is difficult and challenging for them. The key outcome for the programme is to demonstrate a clear progression, for each trainee, from unemployment and low job prospects, to employment or further education and increased employability. Overall, we believe the programme has been a fantastic and completely unique opportunity for young people who might otherwise not get the chance, training, or support to get a job in the environmental and forestry sectors.
FELP trainees experience a mix of outdoor and ‘classroom’ learning.
They said it Comments from some of the FELP trainees: “The programme has given me my sense of achievement back. I have confidence now to follow up my plans for the future.” – Lisa “A great experience with a boost of skills and qualities …which I can also use in day-to-day life.” – Nathan “I feel I can now go out and look for a job and can do it all on my own without depending on other people.” – Jamie “I found the pesticide training really hard to start with – my brain was in a real puzzle... But I was excited when I passed ‘cos it was really hard.” – Lisa
“I’m going home tired at the end of the day, but it’s a good tired.” – Nathan “I now know how to make different cuts when felling trees with hand tools.” – Jamie “One thing I learned about conservation this week is that the Grey squirrel is an ‘alien’ species.” – Keiran (who found this hilarious!) “This has been the best three weeks of my life.” – Nathan
“We are very pleased with the progress made so far by all the trainees. It is a joy to watch their enthusiasm for work and learning in the forest.” Joneen Clarke, Forestry Commission Scotland
photos: ROGER GRIFFITH
COMMUNITY NETWORK MEMBER
Park Life A dedicated group of volunteers from BCPI (of the B&DCA!) are breathing new life into Barrmill Park, near Beith in Ayrshire, as Roger Griffith outlines: Yes, Barrmill has a park! Despite many local folk being unaware of its existence the park contains the Vale Grove, a playground, living willow shelters, the Ginger Hill, and the adjacent Deid Man’s Planting. The local communities of Barrmill, Greenhills, and Burnhouse formed the Barrmill Communities Projects Initiative (BCPI) a year or so back and have been transforming the park ever since. BCPI is itself part of the Barrmill & District Community Association which joined the Community Network in 2010 to access training, advice and insurance. BCPI also works closely with the North Ayrshire Council Garnock Valley Ranger. The BCPI volunteers are active on the second Saturday of each month, the usual turnout being around twenty adults and children. Each workday has aid and advice from the Garnock Valley Ranger, but is run by a BCPI ‘leader for the day’ who keeps an eye on health and safety issues, tools, project progress etc. Volunteers are always treated to a wonderful lunch and afternoon tea supplied by Jean Gilbert and her team. Jean also jointly chairs the group. The group have created the Vale Grove, an all-weather walkway through an abandoned whinstone quarry – once a wilderness, now embellished with raised flowerbeds, the ‘Yellow Brick Road’, ponds, a waterfall, wildflowers and shrubs. Trees have been planted, a thousand or so daffodils added to the lawns, drainage created, 46 bags of litter removed, the Vale Burn water course opened up, railings repaired and painted, bird and bat boxes built and erected, willow shelters shaped and planted, and a hundred metres of wood fencing built. It’s a long list and getting longer by the month. The group have been generously assisted with donations of plant tubs, aggregate for the paths, shrubs, old bricks for bottoming, paving slabs and timber for fencing. And, help for one day came in the form of BTCV’s Ayr team who cleared brambles from the Vale Grove in preparation for wildflower planting. And we hope to have them back again soon.
The BCPI stile builders. Greenhill , an interpretation board for the Vale Grove, a new play area, and improved walkways. We also intend restoring the Deid Man’s Planting site overlooking Barrmill, this being the site of a mass burial of cholera victims in the 1830s. Despite the Hammer Horror description the site is perfectly safe after all these years, and will be planted with trees.
Volunteer Joyce with some of the youngsters.
The Vale View Garden is the next project, planned with the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden in mind, but a next step regardless of how successful that application is. And, plans are afoot for a community notice board at
In recognition of their hard work the young volunteers are awarded Certificates of Achievement and the Scouts have been gaining badges for their conservation work. And whatever their age, new members are always welcome. So, a truly community based project, BCPI has achieved a great deal in a short time and has high hopes for even more success in the future.
Jean Gilbert (left) and the kitchen team.
Coping with flooding Major flooding events have become increasingly common in Scotland, so how can communities at risk respond to this threat? On hand to provide help and advice is the Scottish Flood Forum, as Claire Jack explains:
Flooding is a subject being explored by school pupils through the Scotland Counts Project, as Co-ordinator Stevie Jarron explains: I’ve recently been working with four schools studying the White Cart River in the South-east area of Glasgow plus another four schools looking at the Eddleston River, near Peebles, both of which have historic flooding issues. Pupils from all eight schools have undertaken a series of lessons looking at the causes of flooding and what mitigation and emergency response networks are available. The pupils have visited the rivers, seeing at first-hand the flood measures in place and the proposed works to be undertaken to alleviate flood risk in the future. This will raise the pupils’ awareness of flood issues in their communities and make them more risk aware should a flood happen.
The Scottish Flood Forum (SFF) is a community based organisation currently funded by the Scottish Government. Our aim is to support individuals and communities who have been or are at risk of flooding. We offer advice, support and practical help wherever it may be needed. The SFF ensures that people are prepared for flooding and take the necessary measures to help protect them. We know only too well how devastating a flood can be both in a home and in a community. When this happens, we assist in the community recovery programme by providing essential local information and advice mainly through a weekly flood recovery drop-in surgery.
Flooding is not always preventable, but its destructive effects can be minimised by taking appropriate action. This includes protecting one’s home with flood prevention products, such as air brick covers and door barriers. Another precaution is to prepare a home flood kit, which safeguards important documents and vital supplies to help you get through the initial flood period, should you be trapped in your home. The SFF provides advice about these and other measures and also offers free home surveys. Key to the success of communities in preparing against flooding is the setting up of a flood groups. Flood groups play a number of roles. They may be established to deal with a particular issue which is causing flooding. They ensure that community members are working together to protect the needs of the most vulnerable individuals within a community. In some areas they may apply for subsidised flood protection items. The precise form of a flood group depends on the need of the local community and some are attached to other
local groups, such as local development groups and community councils. All flood groups receive support from SFF in the setting up and ongoing development stages. If you are interested in establishing a flood group, perhaps as part of a wider community resilience group, please get in touch and we will be happy to offer advice and support. Visit www.scottishfloodforum.org or e-mail: email@example.com
iSpot Community Recording Day Saturday 12 May, Stirling
As well as the flooding issue, another strand to Scotland Counts is encouraging people to participate in iSpot – the online wildlife recording site that connects beginners with experts and fellow enthusiasts. With iSpot you can share images of the wildlife you’ve seen, identify species, discuss your findings with others, and learn more about the species you’ve encountered. To learn more visit: www.ispot.org.uk
iSpot is the focus of a community learning day on 12 May at BTCV Scotland’s office at Balallan House, plus nearby parks and gardens. The event aims to introduce iSpot to interested individuals and groups from Stirling and the Forth Valley. So, whether you’re an ‘old hand’ at biological recording or a newcomer to the subject, all are very welcome to join in. You may belong to a local wildlife group, community association, school, or be an interested member of the public. If you’d like to find out more about iSpot and how you can become involved, this event is a great opportunity. It’s free with a simple lunch provided. For further details contact Stevie Jarron at 01786 476179 or firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUNITY NETWORK MEMBER
BFEP and DightyConnect – a confluence of people and nature BFEP
Local youngsters with the Dighty Dwellers, puppet characters created by local volunteer Irene Haggart.
One of the colourful mosaic seats.
In recent years the physical and cultural landscape of Dundee, Scotland’s third largest city, has been transformed. Playing its part in this renaissance has been the Broughty Ferry Environmental Project (BFEP), which currently organises the innovative DightyConnect, as Ann Lolley, Project Co-ordinator, describes: DightyConnect is working to enable volunteers to get involved in a wide variety of projects linked to the cultural and natural heritage of the Dighty Water. The burn flows from the Sidlaw Hills north of Dundee, through the communities of Kirkton, Mill O’ Mains, Whitfield, Fintry, and Douglas, to flow into the Tay estuary at Monifeith. This water course once powered Dundee with records of over 70 mills harnessing its flow for power. The Dighty is now an important wildlife corridor with otters, kingfishers and salmon being found along its length. Everyone has a story about the Dighty (also known as the Burnie) either because they have fallen into it, or because it was the location of their first kiss… or where they chilled their beer! On the natural heritage side over twenty volunteers are involved in projects to record, protect, and enhance the varied habitats along its length. They have been involved in everything from Phase 1 Habitat surveying and water quality monitoring to recording phenological* indicators and monitoring air quality using lichens and sycamore leaf spots, to building rafts to monitor otter and mink movements. On the practical conservation side, groups have undertaken projects such as planting Scottish bluebells and ‘beating-
up’ areas of community woodland, beatingup being the practice of replacing young trees that have died. We’ve also built a drystane dyke for overwintering amphibians who are attracted by the dyke’s many crooks and nannies, and we’ve encouraged local people to sow wildflowers which can be planted out in green space along the burn. To complement the practical work linked to the natural heritage, clusters of volunteers have developed the cultural dimensions and have created stunning mosaic seating on the banks of the burn, as well as writing poetry and dramas inspired by topics such as invasive species. Another project has been a survey to identify the possible micro hydro potential of the burn. We’ve also produced leaflets on herbs and wild food along the burn, put together rucksacks with environmental activities for groups and families, and are in the process of compiling an anthology of writing inspired by the Dighty. We are currently funded by Scottish Natural Heritage and supported by Dundee City Council and we’ve just received funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Spaces programme. Starting with the ideas,
interests and passions of local people, this funding will be used by DightyConnect to bring people together to make better use of the green space along the Dighty Burn in eastern Dundee, improve the area, and have a positive impact on the communities’ health and wellbeing. We aim to establish the banks of the Burnie as a thriving and resilient area for communities and biodiversity. We will provide a diverse range of activities and events to engage communities to come together to make better use of this much loved local green space. For more information contact Ann or Jane on 01382 436932 or email@example.com *Phenology records the dates on which certain natural events occur, eg when the first snowdrops open or the first cuckoo is heard. This information is useful for scientists and others, such as in the study of climate change.
NB Not to be confused with DightyConnect is the Dighty Environmental Group, a dedicated band of local volunteers who carry out regular clean-ups of the Dighty.
Coastal Communities Fund The Government in Westminster has introduced a new programme called the Coastal Communities Fund to support economic development projects in coastal areas across the UK. The Fund will have around £23 million available each year for projects and will be delivered on behalf of the Government by the Big Lottery Fund. The Fund is designed to support economic development of coastal communities by promoting sustainable economic growth and jobs, so that people are better able to respond to the changing economic needs and opportunities of their area. Capital and revenue grants in excess of £50,000 are available for a wide range of applicant organisations and projects which benefit coastal communities. Consideration will be taken of how plans for economic growth address the local needs and priorities, the number of jobs that will be created, and their long-term sustainability. BTCV Scotland is interested in hearing from coastal communities who would like to work in partnership with us to deliver the outcomes sought by the Fund. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Catrin Hughes, Programmes Manager, on 07740 899718, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org For further information about the Fund go to: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/prog_ coastal_communities_fund
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Through the annual Green Heroes Awards, BTCV is used to celebrating the achievements of our fantastic volunteers. What’s not so common is for BTCV to receive an award from its volunteers. Imagine then the surprise for Jo Ridley, Volunteer Development Officer in Glasgow, when she was recently presented with a ‘Scottish Country Thistle Community Assistance Award’ by one of her regular volunteers Frank. The handsomely engraved glass plaque was awarded to BTCV in recognition of its community involvement, positive environmental impact, and its role in improving peoples’ job prospects. So, who is behind the Award? It is in fact Frank and one of his friends who decided there was a gap in the community awards field, so they decided to institute their own! In true Oscar winning fashion Jo was thrilled to receive the award: “I’d like to thank
Frank and Jo everyone who made this possible, particularly all of our dedicated volunteers who come out with us, rain or shine. The plaque now sits proudly in the Glasgow office and is a daily reminder that our efforts really are appreciated. I’d also especially like to thank Frank for going to the trouble and expense to make this happen.”
VDS Learning Community – for people working with volunteers in the outdoors Volunteer Development Scotland (VDS) has created five online introductory learning ‘bites’ for people working with volunteers in the outdoors, which could be relevant to many Community Network members. These learning experiences aim to develop your confidence and skills in working with volunteers. This will help you to offer volunteers an enjoyable experience and enable them to contribute effectively to your group or organisation. There are five topics which can be completed individually or in sequence: l Developing volunteer roles l Matching and selecting volunteers to roles l Supporting and supervising volunteers
l Motivating volunteers l Health, safety, and risk assessment The learning is interactive and includes examples of case study organisations and interviews. You can also complete a few short exercises and activities to test your knowledge and record your own ideas. Each topic should take around 30 minutes to work through. If you would like to use this free online learning resource, please e-mail Hazel.McAlpine@vds. org.uk by the end of April 2012 to receive a username and password for the VDS Learning Community. vds.learningcommunity.org.uk
New Green Gyms for Glasgow Its smiles all round as Julie Wilson (centre) and friends launch the new Green Gym in Easterhouse, Glasgow. The Green Gym is a great opportunity for local folk to get some fresh air and exercise whilst helping to look after their local green spaces. The project is run by BTCV Scotland in partnership with Glasgow Life, as is another new Green Gym now operating in Dalmarnock, in the city’s East End. Julie is the Co-ordinator of both projects, so if you would like information about either Green Gym, please contact her on 0141 276 1785, or e-mail email@example.com GLASGOW LIFE
A new website aims to be the first stop for anyone looking for reliable and accurate information on Scotland’s environment from known and trusted sources. Scotland’s Environment website has been developed by the Scottish Government and a range of partner organisations. The site provides information at a range of levels suitable for different audiences from the general public to those with more technical interests. The website will provide access to data for schools and academic institutions; a user friendly searchable library facility; key messages about the value of, and threats to, our environment; and mapping tools designed to allow users to understand the condition of their local places.
The Network Bulletin is published by BTCV Scotland. Views and opinions expressed in the Bulletin do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or BTCV. Editor: Graham Burns firstname.lastname@example.org tel 0141 552 5294
©BTCV 2012. BTCV is a Registered charity in Scotland SC039302, and England 261009. Green Gym is a Registered Trade Mark of BTCV Printed on recycled paper
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‘Golden Beeches’, by the aptly named Ruaidhri Forrester of Perth High School, is one of the prizewinning entries from the 2011 Focus Environment photography competition for Scotland’s secondary school pupils. The competition provides an opportunity for young folk to give their creative ‘take’ on Scotland’s environment. All the winning photos can be viewed on the competition’s website and in an exhibition visiting locations around the country over the coming months. For details go to: www.focusenvironment.com
Coming up iSpot Community Recording Day Saturday 12 May, Stirling See page 9 for details
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Spaces Conference 2012 Thursday 24 May, Redhall Walled Garden, Edinburgh The annual Spaces Conference aims to put environmental activity at the core of the mental health recovery process. ‘Spaces’ provides both a meeting place for environmental and mental health organisations to come and learn about each other and is a springboard for future partnerships. It is a free conference with a difference; involving learning about the impact our outdoor spaces can have on our lives through hearing stories, through meeting new people, and through experiencing some outdoor hands-on activities around Redhall Walled Garden. Who’s it for? • Managers, group leaders, practitioners and volunteers from both environmental and mental health organisations. • Local government officers and commissioners of mental health services across Scotland. • Anyone interested in getting active in the outdoors. For more information contact Heather Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org
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BTCV Scotland’s community and environmental volunteering activities are supported by: