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netw       rk bulletin Summer 2012

Summer 2012

for TCV Scotland’s community Network

Join in, feel good 1


New group on path to success

The River Almond is now a tranquil and beautiful spot, much loved by locals and visitors alike. Fish have returned in greater numbers, otters can be seen by lucky early risers and kingfishers by the keen of sight. It has a varied history with remains of a Roman fort at Cramond and many vestiges of its industrial past. Scotland’s first iron industry was founded here in the 18th century, with four water-powered mills at various places with attendant weirs etc. These produced such goods as spades and nails, made from ingots brought in by sea from Scandinavia and Russia. The mills gradually closed as larger-scale works were erected on the River Carron. Unfortunately the walkway and its surroundings are not in as good a condition as they could be. There is a considerable amount of woodland in need of maintenance and replanting. Invasive species, particularly laurel, have almost overwhelmed some areas and 2

Chairman Richard Adlington (second left), with fellow Friends of the River Almond Walkway. LEE McPHERSON

The Friends of the River Almond Walkway was formed as an independent body in March of this year, at the initiative of the local Community Council. We join several other ‘Friends’ groups in Edinburgh, some also being members of the Community Network (as are 30 ‘Friends’ groups throughout Scotland). Our aim is to maintain and improve the amenity and environment of the popular, historic and scenic route along the River Almond, which enters the River Forth at Cramond. It is possible to walk beside the river as far as Edinburgh Airport but initially we are likely to restrict our activities upstream about two miles to join up with the Cammo Estate Park, which also has an active ‘Friends’ group.

JOHN KERR

Some groups join the Community Network having been in existence for many years. Others, like the Friends of the River Almond Walkway, are newly established and have just started their efforts on the ground, with a little help from The Conservation Volunteers. Richard Adlington, Chairman, outlines the Friends’ aims and ambitions:

Cramond Old Brig on the River Almond. pervasive ivy requires stripping back near the path. Other alien invaders such as Giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed are also a growing threat and will require specialised treatment. The walkway itself is in need of attention in places. The new group has made a good start with an excellent committee having been formed. They are of one mind as to what is required and willing to put in the work. Most of our projects are longterm and all our activities are intended to supplement and cooperate with the excellent work already undertaken by other local bodies such as the Angling Club, Cramond Heritage Trust and the local Ranger Service. We support several long-term projects, particularly the replacement of a tall flight of steps, with a pathway built out over the river. This would make the walkway accessible to all for its entire length but will require considerable funding. We will join with

others in seeking it. Similarly, there is a large area of neglected woodland that the public cannot easily walk in; we will press for replanting and path construction. Anyone starting a new group will be only too aware of the difficulties that lie in wait. First we started with no money and cannot yet use the donations subsequently gathered as opening a bank account is endlessly complicated and delayed. One problem that has been resolved is that of insurance, a most important item for a group like ours. Without it we cannot organise work parties unless a local authority ranger is present. We were greatly relieved and encouraged when the Chestnut Fund.* administered by The Conservation Volunteers, promptly agreed without any fuss to subsidise three quarters of our first year’s insurance premium so many, many thanks to you. We are now in action! For further information contact: friendsoftheriveralmondwalkway@ gmail.com *The Chestnut Fund provides small grants to help groups with start-up or support costs. The sums are modest – up to £150 Start-up Grant and £350 Support Grant, but this can often be the difference between something happening or not. For further details and an application form visit www.tcv.org.uk/shop

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Welcome… …to the latest issue of the new look Network Bulletin. If you didn’t know already, BTCV has become The Conservation Volunteers – a new name but the same commitment to environmental volunteering and community action to safeguard our green spaces. At the heart of this commitment is the Community Network which comprises of a fantastic diversity of member groups and organisations including community woodlands, amenity societies, development trusts, schools, health projects, volunteer centres, garden schemes, ‘Friends’ groups, and many more! Through the Community Network over 1500 such groups in Scotland benefit from involvement with The Conservation Volunteers and each other. Support from The Conservation Volunteers takes various forms: practical project assistance on the ground, group start-up and support grants, ‘how to’ information and advice, and access to essential insurance cover. And, increasingly our monthly eBulletin provides up-to-date details of training courses, funding opportunities, member events, and other news relevant to the community and environmental sectors. This issue of the Network Bulletin gives a flavour of the type of groups belonging to the Community Network and how The Conservation Volunteers is supporting them. And, in addition to this ongoing commitment there’s a lot else happening over the next few months. Looking further ahead we have exciting plans to improve the Community Network creating more and better opportunities for groups and individuals to get involved. This will include a more user-friendly TCV website, and greater use of social media to publicise events and gather peoples’ opinions about issues affecting themselves and the environment. This is your Community Network, so please do keep in touch with your local TCV office, sign-up to the eBulletin, take part in our events, and join us online to tell the world what you’re doing!

Russell Hampton, Director, TCV Scotland

Join in, feel good

Get involved

Join the Big Green Weekend Throughout Europe thousands of people are getting together in early October to celebrate conservation volunteering and the massive contribution made by community groups towards their local environment. TCV Scotland is holding its own BGW event at the Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre on Saturday 6 October. And, we’re inviting all Community Network groups to organise their own event for the Big Green Weekend. So, join in and be part of something big! www.tcv.org.uk/biggreenweekend Rewarding Young People Young people play an important part in TCV Scotland, benefitting both the environment and themselves. This involvement is being encouraged further through our new rewards scheme, run in partnership with Young Scot. By volunteering with us young people can earn reward points to enhance their own learning and experience, or to get advice and assistance for their school or environmental project. To find out more about the Young Scot Rewards scheme visit www.youngscot.org/rewards Environmental learning The latest, expanded, programme of training events from TCV Scotland and our partner organisations, is well underway. A wide range of topics are covered aimed at community group leaders and others looking to improve their environmental skills and knowledge. Each course is a great opportunity to learn from the experts in areas as diverse as wildlife identification and community engagement. www.tcv.org.uk/scotlandtraining

Summer 2012

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A helping hand or two Some community groups have a great project on the go but they maybe need a little extra ‘muscle’ to complete it, or just to keep the momentum going forward. In these circumstances The Conservation Volunteers may be able to help: Volunteer Teams Each of our offices runs a well-equipped Conservation Volunteer Team which can tackle a range of tasks. Typical projects include creating school gardens, developing path schemes, and wildlife habitat management. If there’s anything particularly technical about a project, additional skilled contractors may also be brought in to help. For groups with limited or no funds TCV Scotland operates a Community Support scheme which can cover the costs of one of our team’s input. In 2011/12 over 30 schools and community organisations benefitted from the scheme. Projects included clearing ground at an urban growing project (opposite), maintaining a wildlife pond, and planting-up the grounds of a new community centre. NB. Community Support funds are limited and priority is given to Scotland Plus (paid) members of the Community Network. For further details about project support contact your nearest TCV Scotland office.

Not just another day at the office. RBS employees help to maintain a woodland path (and carting track!) at a Barnardo’s centre, near Edinburgh.

Many hands make light work. Here, our Glasgow volunteers are pictured alongside staff and volunteers from arts organisation NVA, digging over a vegetable patch in the grounds beside St Peter’s Seminary, at Cardross, near Helensburgh. The site is the location of an ambitious NVA project to restore parts of the derelict but architecturally important 1970’s seminary and surrounding grounds. For further information visit www.nva.org.uk 4

Employees take action In addition to our own Conservation Volunteer Teams we also organise Employee Action Days, in which groups of employees from other organisations ‘escape’ from their desks and computers for a day to help out on a community project. It’s a great opportunity for companies or public agencies and their staff to put something back into their local communities. The community benefits and the employees get a great sense of satisfaction from achieving something worthwhile. Typical projects include developing community gardens, constructing play areas, and habitat management.

If you have a project which would benefit from an Employee Action Day, or your organisation would like its employees to take part in such a project, contact Heath Brown, Corporate Development Manager, on 07740 899677, or h.brown@tcv.org.uk

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“I’ve got the best job in the world”, says Marion Bate, as she hoiks out another clump of weeds. “Once I get started I can’t stop!” Marion continues, as she tends to a flower bed in the community garden, part of the Shettleston Community Growing Project (SCGP), in Glasgow’s East End. Since early 2010, a committee of local residents and Development Worker Marion have been transforming an area of disused ground into a thriving community growing project. The project was established with funding from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and Glasgow City Council, with assistance from Shettleston Housing Association. The site consists of over 60 individual raised beds for vegetable growing. The beds are small and manageable and so are perfect for people new to gardening. Anyone can join the project for membership of just £1 and hire a plot for an additional £20 annually. Newcomers and veteran gardeners alike can swap useful tips and techniques at the Gardening Club held each Sunday. And for those that catch the gardening bug big time they can progress to ‘follow-on’ plots outwith the main site. As well as the grown-ups, events are also held for local youngsters. To mark the Queen’s

Norton Miller introducing the honeybees to their new home. Summer 2012

MARION BATE

Eastenders

Marion Bate (left) and ‘regular’ Margaret Gracie. Margaret is also pictured on the front cover with some of her fine produce.

Diamond Jubilee, local childminders held a teddy bears picnic, and over the summer a Smelly Welly Club is being held for 8-12 year olds with plenty of fun things to do – gardening, arts and crafts, and outdoor drama all on the menu. Alongside the individual plots there are communal planting areas and a community garden bordered by colourful flower beds. As well as looking pretty the flowers and shrubs attract pollinating insects, vital for the fruit and vegetables growing nearby. To help with the pollination SCGP recently recruited a small army, or rather air force, of new volunteers in the shape of a hive of honeybees. The hive was installed by Norton Miller of Johnny’s Garden*, who encourages what he calls ‘natural beekeeping’. This uses Warré hives, named after Emile Warré, a French priest, who developed this method of beekeeping, one of whose benefits is that the bees can basically be left to buzz about and do their business without being bothered too much. And because the bees chosen are quite a calm breed of honeybees they rarely sting – handy for such a public place. Four of the SCGP members have completed a beekeeping course so will keep an eye on and care for their new residents. SCGP’s success depends on the involvement of local people. One of the regular volunteers is Margaret Gracie, who says: “I just like helping and seeing things grow. My 8 year old grandson Sam likes coming and my other grandson 8 month old Ben is the project’s youngest member!” Another volunteer and committee member Bob Duckett, added: “It’s a brilliant project, and a fantastic learning experience.”

Move over Gordon Ramsay. Glasgow’s other fine chefs, SCGP members Anne and Bob, cook up a feast, and their ingredients couldn’t be any fresher or more local.

The facilities on site include a polytunnel and potting shed – useful for when it rains, which occasionally happens in Glasgow! And when the heavens do open up the rain water is collected and fed into a dozen large recycled whisky barrels for use later. A ready supply of water is important as allotments, like people, are thirsty creatures. The garden has been developed largely through the hard graft and enthusiasm of the local community, with Marion’s assistance. Marion is grateful for some extra help provided by The Conservation Volunteers in the shape of Jo Ridley and her Glasgow volunteers: “Jo and her group have been a great help on several occasions, particularly in developing our wildflower area and community garden.” New volunteers are always welcome at the project and anyone wishing to get involved should contact Marion, or come along any Tuesday or Wednesday at 10am, or 2pm on Sunday. What’s happening in Shettleston is also happening in other parts of Glasgow, and throughout the country – of people getting back into the habit of growing at least some of their own food. It’s a welcome and growing trend. * www.johnnysgarden.co.uk For further information contact Marion at 0141 763 2894, 0753 0985483, or Marion.bate@shettleston.co.uk www.shettlestongrowing.org.uk 5


ANDREW MACDONALD

Opportunity knocks Many people are desperate to find a job in the environment, or indeed any job at all. A hurdle they often face is lack of experience. For many people, joining The Conservation Volunteers has provided the invaluable experience that prospective employers are looking for. Our Conservation Volunteer Leader (CVL)* programme provides valuable practical experience, particularly in helping run our Conservation Volunteer Teams. This exposes the CVLs to a wide range of environmental tasks, leadership challenges, and group work, plus numerous training opportunities. Some CVLs progress from within a Conservation Volunteer Team whilst others arrive through other avenues such as ProjectScotland, the national volunteering programme which arranges 3-6 month placements for 18-30 year olds. Further information is available at www.projectscotland.co.uk

“an amazing and unique experience” Amanda Joaquin (pictured opposite) benefitted from the CVL programme: “After graduating from the University of the West of Scotland in 2010 I became a Conservation Volunteer Leader for just under a year. The role of a CVL is an amazing and unique experience. I was able to obtain skills to lead and assist groups of volunteers in practical tasks, broaden my flora and fauna identification skills, support the day-to-day running of the office, and even learned how to drive a minibus! I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a CVL as it provided the much needed stepping stone to me gaining employment as a Seasonal Park Ranger at the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, after which I joined the Natural Communities programme [opposite]. Without the CVL programme I wouldn’t be where I am now in the environmental sector.” A new strand to the CVL programme is Discovering Nature Volunteers (DNVs). These are opportunities for ‘specialised’ volunteers to share their passion for nature with other volunteers and members of the public at community events etc. Before long we hope each TCV Scotland office will have its own Discovering Nature Volunteer. 6

Conservation Volunteer Leaders have a great track record of gaining employment in the environment sector. If you’re interested, contact your local office for details of current CVL opportunities. *Formerly Volunteer Officers (VOs) Volunteers get some credit Where possible, The Conservation Volunteers is keen for our volunteers to receive accreditation for their practical learning. With this in mind regular volunteers in several of our offices can now receive SVQ units in Environmental Conservation. We hope to extend this scheme to other offices in the coming months. Gaining a foothold For some people invaluable training and learning opportunities towards an environmental career are provided through the Natural Communities and Natural Talent programmes – see opposite.

Opportunities for Young Folk At any given time TCV Scotland and partner organisations are running environmental programmes particularly for young people. These enhance young peoples’ social skills, and provide work experience and learning opportunities to help improve their prospects. Recent initiatives have included: Get Started in the Environment (GSITE) GSITE was organised with the Prince’s Trust and offered young people in Glasgow and Perth an introduction to the environment with opportunities to boost their skills, confidence and selfesteem. As well as gaining a Prince’s Trust certificate, the young folk also achieved their John Muir Award. Forestry and Environment Learning Programme (FELP) Through FELP, young people receive SCQF ‘Empower’ employability training

As a result of his outstanding progress, 19 year old Willie Richardson, one of the recent FELP trainees, was nominated for the 2012 Young Scot Awards. As well as the deserved recognition the nomination brought, Willie (pictured) also received an iPod Shuffle, so he was well chuffed!

and practical environmental experience. This includes accredited training in forestry skills such as chainsaw use, opportunities that would not normally be open to these young folk. Two FELP schemes were recently developed by TCV Scotland and the Forestry Commission Scotland, using FCS woods as the outdoor ‘classroom’. Green Action Run in conjunction with the Waterways Trust Scotland, Green Action uses Central Scotland’s canals and surrounding areas as venues for outdoor learning and social skills development. Several Green Action programmes have been successfully run in recent years and two further 14 week programmes start in August, in Falkirk and North Lanarkshire. networkbulletin


Developing Natural Communities In communities across the country, people of all ages are gaining a fresh insight into their local environment with the help of seven trainees employed by TCV Scotland under the Natural Communities programme. Each Natural Communities trainee has a year-long paid placement with an environmental organisation or ‘green’ council department. Natural Communities is a wonderful opportunity for the trainees to share their enthusiasm for the natural world, and a great learning experience which will help them in their future careers. The programme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The magnificent seven are: Lucy Tozer Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Helen Simmons Glasgow City Council Claire Bates Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh Kate Williamson Stirling Council Amanda Joaquin TCV Scotland (Stirling and Forth Valley) Judith Hartley Dumfries and Galloway Biodiversity Partnership Faith Hillier Froglife (Cumbernauld) Each placement is different but they all involve the trainees encouraging community engagement between their host organisations and the general public. All of the trainees are involved in an amazing variety of activities: attending nature reserve open days, participating in community consultation meetings, and organising practical conservation activities, to name but a few. Community events are a particularly good opportunity for the trainees to meet the public and get their message across, a recent example being Meet the Species, at Westquarter Glen, Falkirk. Trainees Amanda Joaquin and Kate Williamson were equipped with an array of bugs and beasties to enthuse local people about the wildlife on their doorstep. The event was a great success attracting large numbers of inquisitive youngsters (and adults!). Summer 2012

Amanda Joaquin (left) and Kate Williamson encouraging local residents to ‘Meet the Species’ at Westquarter Glen, in Falkirk. Meet the Species was organised by Westquarter Wildlife Group and the Helix Project: Westquarter Wildlife Group aims to transform the Glen into a safe, accessible and useable environment. This means repairing bridges and paths, and removing Invasive species including Rhododendron (with some help from The Conservation Volunteers funded by the Falkirk Environment Trust). The areas opened up will allow native wildflowers, shrubs and trees to grow, which in turn will attract a greater diversity of wildlife. And the Glen will become a pleasanter place for local people to visit and enjoy. For more information visit: www. facebook.com/westquarterwildlifegroup The Helix Project is an ambitious scheme to turn 350 hectares of underused land between Grangemouth and Falkirk into a thriving urban greenspace. Details at www.thehelix.co.uk As well as communities centred on particular locations, the Natural Communities trainees have worked with groups of people with shared interests or circumstances. Earlier this year, Paul McDonald (former Natural Communities trainee) organised a Discovering Nature programme for young asylum seekers studying English as a Second Language at Anniesland College, in Glasgow. Paul, with the help of Amanda Joaquin (above), involved the group in a series of outdoor activities such as tree planting, meadow management, and creating habitat piles. The group not

only enhanced the local environment but improved their English and numeracy skills, plus their understanding of Scotland’s wildlife and biodiversity. And they used these experiences towards gaining the John Muir Award. Amanda says: “They were a friendly and enthusiastic group, eager to learn, and I had a great time working with them.” The group are pictured on the front cover. www.tcv.org.uk/naturalcommunities

We’ve got Talent Natural Communities is modelled on the successful Natural Talent programme in which ‘apprentices’ spend 12-18 months developing skills and knowledge in a particular aspect of ecology or the environment. The programme aims to maintain expertise in these sectors as some of the current experts gradually retire. So far 32 apprentices have studied an incredibly diverse range of subjects including fungi, pinewood invertebrates, invasive species, algae, lowland raised bogs, and soil biodiversity. With their new found expertise the graduate apprentices have successfully gained employment in a variety of environmental agencies. www.tcv.org.uk/naturaltalent Over the next year or so, with funding from HLF, 11 new Natural Communities trainees and 10 Natural Talent apprentices will be recruited. Details, when available, will be posted on our website. 7


Feeling good! You don’t have to sign-up to a health club to keep fit. A natural alternative is to join a Green Gym for a ‘workout’ of environmental activity in the great outdoors – and it doesn’t cost you a penny! It’s increasingly recognised that participants’ health gets a big boost from the fresh air and exercise they experience in a Green Gym session, during which everyone progresses at their own pace. And, there are the social benefits of meeting new friends and being part of a regular group of like-minded people.

There are currently 27 Green Gyms of various kinds running in Scotland. To find out if there’s one near you, visit www.tcv.org.uk/greengym Now in North Edinburgh The latest Green Gym is now up and running in the Drylaw, Granton, and Pilton areas of North Edinburgh. With supervision from Chris Peach the group is helping maintain a number of community gardens in the area. If you or someone you know would like to take part, please contact Chris at 07740 899558, or c.peach@tcv.org.uk

Improving mental health It’s not just peoples’ physical health that benefits from Green Gym activity – mental wellbeing improves too. Following a successful pilot scheme, a Green Gym dedicated to improving the mental health of patients has been established at Newcraigs Hospital in Inverness. With encouragement from Elspeth Lawson of The Conservation Volunteers, patients have constructed a beautiful garden within the hospital grounds. Here they have planted flowers, vegetables and herbs, and have installed some interesting features including a colourful totem pole painted with their favourite animals. Future plans include planting a fruit orchard and environmental art sessions. The benefits that outdoor activities like these can have on mental wellbeing was the theme of the Spaces 2012 conference – see opposite.

Find out more If you would like to know more about any aspect of Green Gyms, contact David Graham, Development Manager (Healthy Communities) at 07764 655715, d.graham@tcv.org.uk or Alyson Hunter (Health Development Officer) at 0141 552 5294, a.hunter@tcv.org.uk www.tcv.org.uk/greengym

stimulation provided by regular and fun environmental activities. As a result Green Gyms are currently operating in schools in Ayr, Paisley and Glasgow. There’s a lot the pupils can do: bird box making, wildflower planting, growing vegetables, murals and mosaics....and plenty more besides! DIY Whilst most Green Gyms are run directly by The Conservation Volunteers, a small but increasing number are organised by community organisations under licence from us, such as Glenside Green Gym pictured here. With appropriate training (below) and support, community groups are encouraged to ‘do it yourself’.

Work Club

This happy chap is Iain McCall, a regular volunteer with the Linwood Green Gym, near Paisley. Iain has a permanent smile on his face when out with the weekly session, which he always enjoys: “It’s great. I like being outside in the gardens doing planting and things like that because I like being busy. I like everything about the Green Gym – even the weeding!” 8

A new initiative in the capital of the Highlands is the Inverness Green Gym Work Club. This combines regular Green Gym sessions in the local environment with activities to help the participants in their search for employment. So, a typical Green Gym Work Club day includes conservation activities in the morning, after which the group has lunch together. In the afternoon there are sessions including interview techniques, how to write a CV, etc. For information contact Ullie Wenzel at 01463 811560, or u.wenzel@tcv.org.uk Youngsters too It’s not just adults who can benefit from Green Gyms – many youngsters also gain from the physical and mental

Essential training Anyone wishing to know more about Green Gyms and how to run one should consider attending Essentials of Green Gym – free training events run by The Conservation Volunteers once or twice each year. The next event is planned for August in Glasgow. Visit www.tcv.org.uk/scotlandtraining networkbulletin


The views of those who attended Spaces were overwhelmingly positive:

“Fantastic day likely all round – I’m very apy to apply green ther at work now.”

“I am in complete awe of the garden. It is so peaceful and alive. I have enjoyed today more than any other work event I’ve ever been to.”

“I’ve been thinking of developing things in this way but I’m now very motivated! Very well organised. Inspirational!”

y “Had a fantastic da uld wo I – e in a beautiful venu in ed st re definitely be inte attending again.”

“I will definitely talk to my team about green the rapy and promote it amongst members.”

“Thank you for a fantastic opportunity to meet so many people who are passionate about mental health, wellbeing and green spaces.”

JULIA DUNCAN

Exploring Spaces

The positive effect being in contact with nature can have on those experiencing mental health issues was the theme of the Spaces 2012 conference held in May. The conference was a mix of inspirational speakers and practical hands-on sessions giving delegates a taste of the outdoor activities which can support wellbeing and recovery. Activities such as: wildflower planting, healthy walks, environmental arts, hazel weaving, green games, Geocaching, creating herb boxes, even fire making! Spaces was held in the tranquil setting of Redhall Walled Garden in Edinburgh, and attracted over 110 representatives and workers from mental health agencies as far afield as Stornoway, Campbeltown and Aberdeen. And, over 60 staff from environmental organisations were on hand to lead the practical sessions.

Spaces was a tremendous success. A Spaces 2012 Report with ideas, resources and contacts shared on the day, is available at www.issuu.com/btcvscotland For a photographic flavour of Spaces visit www.flickr.com/tcvscotland

Such was the demand the conference was over-subscribed, so given this level of interest we may organise a similar event highlighting ‘green therapy’ in 2013. Spaces was organised by The Conservation Volunteers in partnership with FEVA, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Redhall SAMH. Particular thanks are due to Jan Cameron and the staff and volunteers at Redhall.

Learn more Some of the ‘green therapy’ topics highlighted during Spaces 2012 are also covered in courses within the Environmental and Community Leaders Training Programme – see page 11.

Warming-up for a Green Gym taster session. Summer 2012

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Over the hill

Yvonne Stephan and local youngsters applying protective tree guards to recently planted saplings.

B

attlehill Wood, a local landmark overlooking the Aberdeenshire town of Huntly, has been the location of much community activity recently as the conifer plantation which covered much of the site has been felled, to be replaced with native broadleaf species such as oak, rowan, hazel, ash, wild cherry, hawthorn and blackthorn. The replanting has been carried out by local people, including hundreds of school pupils, organised with the help of The Conservation Volunteers in Aberdeen. Other works have included bench building, waymarking, habitat creation, and making new paths. And, artist Nicola Atkinson has created the public art plan for Battlehill Wood and the Meadows Plantings. As its name suggests Battlehill was supposedly the site of fisticuffs between warring clans in the 16th century. Today the battle is between the newly planted trees and the local roe deer who find the young tree leaves irresistible. Although the site is fenced off, it’s hard to keep the deer out completely, so this may be a long conflict! Over 13,000 trees have been planted on the 6.5 hectare site so hopefully enough will survive the marauding nibblers. The background to the Battlehill project is that Huntly has a wealth of natural resources with 42 hectares of mixed woodlands, allotments and open spaces owned by Aberdeenshire Council. These areas are linked by footpaths to the rivers Bogie and Deveron. To overcome a number of health inequalities in the 10

Aberdeen volunteer Mary Scott lends a hand.

New members Welcome to the following groups who have joined the Community Network recently: ASAP – After School Activities Programme (Glasgow) Cando Group (Falkirk) Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (Ayr) Cranhill Development Trust (Glasgow) Craigengillan Estate (Dalmellington) Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (Ayr) Cranhill Development Trust (Glasgow) Cumbernauld College Training Unit Drymen & District Paths Group (Stirlingshire) East Ayrshire Support Team Forth Valley College (Falkirk) Friends of Burnbraes Park (Biggar)

town, the public sector organisations whose duty it is to promote access, natural environments, and health and wellbeing, are working together to utilise the town’s natural assets to promote healthier lifestyles and greater interest in the natural heritage. The Forestry Commission Scotland is providing funding to enable Aberdeenshire Council’s woodlands to be managed to contribute to the health agenda. This includes Battlehill where the new paths will encourage more walking – one of the simplest ways to improve your health. Steven Gray, Environmental Planner with Aberdeenshire Council, commented: “The Conservation Volunteers has provided an essential role in the Huntly Woodlands project providing the expertise, tools and advice to ensure the delivery of the postharvesting community and schools based elements of the projects. The school and community replanting events were very successful with 120 folk attending the April event plus the 600 school pupils over three days, and the event last November attracted 20 local folk plus 450 pupils over five days.” The input to the project from The Conservation Volunteers has been organised by Aberdeen-based Yvonne Stephan, Volunteer Development Officer, and Pete Brinklow, Community Project Officer. Yvonne says: “We had a great time, mainly with the school kids who gave their very best and did a spectacular job. Some of them even came back to join us on the weekend workshops with their parents which was great to see. The input of local volunteers as well as our volunteers from Aberdeen made a real difference to the site and I’m looking forward to coming back to Battlehill in a few years when it’s back to being a beautiful woodland again.”

Friends of Maxwell Park (Glasgow) Friends of Pacitti Garden (Glasgow) Friends of the River Almond Walkway (See page 2) Friends of the Water of Leith Basin (Edinburgh) Gartmore Primary School (Stirlingshire) Hillhead Primary School (Kilmarnock) Invergarrry Steam Preservation Society (Inverness-shire) Isle of Cumbrae Initiative Community Co. (Argyll & Bute) Kinross Potager Garden Charitable Trust (Perth & Kinross) Kirknewton Allotments Association (West Lothian) Luss and Arden Community Development Trust (Argyll) Parkhead Community Garden (Glasgow) St. Vincent’s Primary School (Glasgow)

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Mind the gap! If you or your group have a gap in your ‘green’ skills or knowledge, the answer may lie in attending a one or two day learning event as part of the Environmental and Community Leaders Training Programme (ECLTP).

Suits you? As well as the regular programme of events, The Conservation Volunteers can co-ordinate ‘bespoke’ training tailored to the particular needs and preferred locations of groups and organisations. So, if you have an idea for a training event for your own staff or volunteers, contact Julia Duncan, Development Manager Learning, j.duncan@tcv.org.uk Keep in touch Keep up-to-date with news of the training programme plus other Network member events, funding news and learning opportunities, via the monthly Community Network Training & Events eBulletin. Subscribe at www.tcv.org.uk/ scotlandtraining

Courses coming up: A recent Community Mentor training day in Edinburgh.

The ECLTP reflects the huge range of activity present in environmental volunteering in Scotland today and currently includes courses covering: practical conservation, group leadership, health and safety, volunteer management, mental health awareness-raising, fundraising, wildlife identification, community engagement, and influencing behaviour change in terms of climate. Over the past three years, over 130 people have participated in Community Mentor training. This free training aims to give people ideas, inspiration and confidence enabling them to organise environmental projects within their own communities. Further Community Mentors training is lined up for Aberdeen (13/14 September) and Perth (1/2 November). These courses have proved very popular, so if you’re interested in attending – book early! The ECLTP is a multi-partner and diverse programme of green learning which merges key training opportunities provided by the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity (FEVA), TCV Scotland and other environmental organisations. The programme is supported by the Scottish Government and SNH. Summer 2012

ILA support TCV Scotland is a registered learning provider with ILA Scotland. Participants on certificated courses such as Brushcutters (LANTRA) may be eligible for support through the Individual Learning Account (ILA) scheme which may cover most or all of a course fee. Further details are available at: www. ilascotland.org.uk Can you help? To encourage maximum participation we would like the training programme to be as widely promoted as possible. As such we can supply 10-50 copies of the printed programme for any group or organisation to pass on to their own staff, members and volunteers. If you can help in this way please contact Tricia Burden at 01786 479697, or t.burden@tcv.org.uk Sharing ideas In addition to the ongoing training programme, we organise a series of occasional ‘Sharing Good Practice’ meetings in different parts of the country for people to come together and share ideas and experiences of a particular topic. The most recent event had ‘Working with Young People Outdoors’ as its theme. ‘Sharing Good Practice’ events, which are free of charge, will continue through 2012/13. Details will be available in the Community Network eBulletin (see below).

August TBC Essentials of Green Gym Glasgow – Free 8 Harvestman Identification Stirling – £40 13 Plants for Bees, Birds and Butterflies Grangemouth – Free 20 Spider Identification Stirling – £40 September 4 Beetle Identification, Stirling – £40 5 Outdoor Games and Teambuilding Ideas, Edinburgh – £40 13-14 Community Mentor Training Aberdeen – Free 19 Outdoor Learning in Schools Edinburgh – £40 27 Introduction to Forest Skills Dalkeith – £40 28 Protecting Vulnerable Adults Stirling – £40 October 2 Fungi Identification Midlothian – £40 4 Introduction to Fundraising Stirling – Free 16 Public Access to Woodlands, Edinburgh – £40 30-31 Brushcutters (LANTRA accredited), Stirling – £190 Most courses, unless accredited, have a standard fee of £40. With extra support from the Scottish Government and SNH, some courses, particularly promoting volunteer management, are free of charge. Course information details at www.tcv.org.uk/scotlandtraining

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Spot on!

Many groups belonging to the Community Network care for a local greenspace or wildlife habitat. Part of the satisfaction gained is recognising and recording the wildlife species belonging to your local patch. But what if you come across something you’re unfamiliar with – how do you identify it? Help is at hand with iSpot – an easyto-use website that can assist in identifying just about any form of British wildlife, from rare plants to common spiders. iSpot couldn’t be simpler. After a quick registration process you upload a photo of what you want identified plus some details of the location etc. Members of the iSpot community of over 18,000 wildlife enthusiasts then identify your species and post their findings on the site. It helps if your photo is sharp in the

Our own volunteer groups are encouraged to record the species they encounter during their conservation projects. They can send records of what they see to BRISC (Biological Recording in Scotland – www.brisc.org.uk), which in turn submits the data to the National Biodiversity Network (www.nbn.org.uk). So, if you come out with The Conservation Volunteers, you may be handed a wildlife identification book as well as a trowel or spade. You can also improve your wildlife identification skills on one of our training courses – an opportunity to learn from the experts. Details p.11

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Sisters Martha, Elsi and Tegwen discover what’s lurking in the Balallan House pond.

right places, but you don’t have to be an expert photographer using expensive equipment – a compact camera or even a mobile phone can be perfectly fine. You don’t have to be a member of any particular group or organisation to use iSpot – you can simply be an interested individual. And, whatever your interest, you’re adding to the bigger picture of our wildlife knowledge. The iSpot site includes a short film featuring wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham, who explains how easy it is to use iSpot. See how easy at www.ispot.org.uk iSpot day …was the focus of an event held recently at TCV Scotland’s Head office at Balallan House, near Stirling town centre. The event brought together wildlife enthusiasts and recorders from Stirling and the Forth Valley to hear how they could use and contribute to iSpot. Murdo McDonald, a regular iSpotter, was on hand to explain how it worked. The ‘serious’ iSpot business in the morning was followed in the afternoon with childfriendly activities for local families to come along and try their hand at wildlife identification. Dip netting in the Balallan House pond was especially popular resulting in a wide range of bugs and beasties including quite a few common newts. And folk could drop in to Balallan House itself to try their hand at iSpot on the computers.

iSpot was also demonstrated at the Meet the Species community event at Westquarter Glen – see page 7. Promoting iSpot is just one aspect of the Scotland Counts project co-ordinated by Stevie Jarron. Scotland Counts is about encouraging Citizen Science in which the general public can help collect environmental data. These activities can be informative and enjoyable in their own right but also feed in to the information used to formulate environmental plans and policies by government and other national agencies. For further information contact Stevie at 01786 476179, or s.jarron@tcv.org.uk networkbulletin


A community woodland Woods have a special place in many communities providing leisure and play opportunities for local adults and children, and a haven for wildlife. Many woodland groups throughout the country are members of the Community Network, an example being the Burn o’Fochabers Woodland Community Trust, in Moray. Here, Committee Member Chris Sugden outlines the work of the Trust: Fochabers is a small village on the banks of the lower River Spey with a strong history of volunteering. Volunteers run the heritage museum, the flower displays, the village institute, the youth groups, and the woods. The Fochabers Burn runs right through the heart of the village to its confluence with the Spey. Alongside the burn, for a kilometre through the village, is a one to two hundred metre wide woodland strip linking the forested hills with the Spey. The woods and its paths are heavily used by the community. The Speyside Way comes through the woods and red squirrels run their length using specially erected rope bridges. The Burn o’Fochabers Woodland Community Trust was set up to safeguard and manage the woodland for the benefit of the community, but the Trust had a baptism of fire. In September 2009 a month’s rain fell in one day. A tremendous spate swept through the village and woodland. Many villagers had to be evacuated by boat during the night. Three road bridges, a footbridge, two vehicles and hundreds of trees were swept away within a few hours. In the aftermath of the spate, the priority for the Community Trust was to remove the dead and dangerous timber from the burn, to reduce the risk of further flooding. Every year public spirited arborists – tree surgeons and planters – designate a worthy cause to mark National Arbor Day. On 26 March 2010 over twenty arborists from across the UK descended on the Burn o’ Fochabers Woods with their chainsaws, ropes and winches, chipping machines and shovels. They were ably assisted by local volunteers who also provided hospitality for the visitors. In one weekend the woods were restored, a large area was reseeded and 150 new trees were planted. Since then the Trust’s management committee, with the support of many keen local volunteers, including schoolchildren, have transformed the Summer 2012

West Street woods during the flood

Clearing the debr is

New planting

Wild flowers by the burn www.fochaberswoods.eboard.com woods. Debris has been removed from the burn, wild flowers have been planted and invasive sycamore and ivy have been cut back. Funding was obtained to create a wheelchair accessible path for most of the length of the woods and plans are now afoot to build a bridge across the upper reaches of the burn. Fochabers now has a delightful and varied mixed woodland of benefit to school children, families and the elderly. The burn has returned to its normal flow and all the houses and bridges have been restored. There are, of course, always new management issues on the horizon. Last year Dutch Elm disease reached Fochabers for the first time. We know that we will lose forty elms over the next few years and plans are already being made for their removal and replacement.

It’s a reminder that woods are dynamic habitats where ‘things happen’, but we believe we’re up to the challenge, reassured by a good insurance policy, just in case…

Take cover BoFWCT is one of many groups who take out insurance through The Conservation Volunteers to cover their activities. Details are available at www.tcv.org.uk/shop or contact Caroline Mehew, Community Network Officer in Customer Services, at 01302 388883 or c.mehew@tcv.org.uk

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Countryside Officer Duncan Priddle explained the problem: “Over the years North Berwick Law has suffered a bit with the number of visitors wearing down the main path or indeed creating a number of additional paths. This not only led to confusion for people visiting and wondering which route to take but more importantly has led to severe erosion in parts.”

Anna Dennis, former Volunteer Development Officer in Edinburgh, takes up the story: North Berwick Law is a 187 metre high volcanic plug with commanding views over North Berwick, the surrounding countryside, and out into the Firth of Forth. The Law is a Scheduled Ancient Monument on account of the settlements dating back 2000 years which have been found on the site. In early 2012 the Edinburgh volunteers took on one of their most challenging projects: repairing 70 metres of path on the Law using upland mountain footpath techniques. The project required us to 14

The North Berwick Law rock stars.

“…very few of us had done any stonework before…” learn the ins-and-outs of stonework so that we could build 40 metres of revetments (to hold the edge of the path up), approximately 16 anchor bars (large stone steps to keep the path surface from slipping away), and surfacing and landscaping the full 70 metres. Not only did we have a number of new skills to learn, but as we were also dealing with a Scheduled Ancient Monument we had to have an archaeologist on site to check what we dug up, and to make sure we didn’t disturb any of the ancient ramparts. Since very few of us had done any stonework before, we received some professional help from Matt McConway of Upland Access Ltd., and a former conservation volunteer from back in the day. Between problems getting stone delivered from the local quarry, archaeologists not being available for the first few days of the project, and the power-barrow we had ordered not quite being what we needed, the first week didn’t exactly go to plan! But the volunteers were patient as always and we made the best of it. After the initial teething problems, we all got into the swing of things and the project really picked up pace as the volunteers became more confident in their abilities and everyone was able to get stuck in; even the archaeologists couldn’t help themselves from grabbing a tool to help out! In the end, to complete the path we took 20 days, 6 tonnes of hardcore, 12 tonnes of rock (including some absolute monsters) and making dozens of wheelbarrow-trips to

anna dennis

The Scottish landscape is peppered with thousands of fantastic historic sites, nature reserves and beauty spots – magnets for visiting locals and tourists alike. Their very popularity often brings problems as the high visitor ‘footfall’ can lead to serious erosion problems. In many locations maintaining footpaths is a necessary activity – hard work but someone’s got to do it. In the case of North Berwick Law recently that someone was our Edinburgh Conservation Volunteer Team, working in partnership with East Lothian Council Countryside Ranger Service.

JILL MACKAY

The Law under pressure

get turf. Everyone was able to help out with a range of aspects of the project, and we had some amazing weather to help us on our way. All in all, a job very well done. Duncan Priddle added: “The work carried out by the volunteers has improved and clearly indicated the main route up the Law. We have also worked at improving the gradient of the path so the route is more gentle for walkers to access.” The last word goes to Anna: Massive thanks are due to Duncan and Sam from East Lothian Council, the archaeologists for sharing their knowledge with us, plus Matt, all of whom helped spread the load and ease the pressure from me! And of course the fantastic volunteers for their unceasing patience and enthusiasm. Anna obviously liked rolling big rocks about as she subsequently moved on from us to work with a mountain path repair team in the Highlands. She has been replaced as Volunteer Development Officer in Edinburgh by David Alcorn. networkbulletin


Faced with a dull and uninspiring entrance to their school, the staff of Newton Primary in Ayr, decided to do something about it. They, and Julie Grant our Education Development Officer, put their heads together and came up with Community Congregate – a project to transform the school’s main access area into a welcoming and colourful space for the pupils, staff, and parents. And, the enhanced area would provide an attractive link between the school and the local community – somewhere pleasant to meet, or congregate. To put their ideas into action the school successfully applied to the Awards for All lottery programme. With the funding in place, the staff and pupils, with help from our local Ayr Conservation Volunteer Team, got down to work and: • Constructed raised flower beds outside the main entrance and in the school garden • Planted a hedgerow using native trees along the school fence • Created raised beds for growing herbs and vegetables • Installed new recycled plastic picnic benches and tables in the garden • Planted an assortment of flowers and plants in donated tractor tyres • Built a bug hotel and bird feeder station • Developed a willow structure of domes and tunnels As well as being attractive to the children and adults, the new features also aim to attract wildlife, particularly birds, butterflies and other insects.

“We found lots of insects in the bug hotel.” Summer 2012

JULIE GRANT

The Community Congregate

“We’ve been growing lots of veg at school.”

The newly installed flower beds. Come back in a year and see a riot of colour.

The school’s teachers are pleased with their new surroundings, as one of them explains: “The work undertaken by ourselves and The Conservation Volunteers enhances the range of activities that can be offered to pupils and contributing to a positive, attractive environment for pupils and adults to use. The children are so excited about the new area and are much more vocal about working in it and ways to take it forward. The grounds are definitely more fun and interactive. It is lovely to watch the children exploring the log piles and bug hotel. And the children are learning about healthy eating by growing their own vegetables. Parents and visitors to the school have commented about the new area saying it is much improved and how nice it looks now. Teachers have been outside much more with their classes delivering various aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence. Each class will take responsibility for looking after different parts of the area which will be used by pupils and staff throughout the year, in all weathers!” Newton Primary is one of many schools which we have helped to develop their grounds into attractive and stimulating environments for learning and play. Depending on individual school circumstances this assistance can include: finding funding, design ideas, and the practical work on the ground with input from our staff and Conservation Volunteer Teams.

Other TCV Scotland educational initiatives: Natural Learning – how to use outdoor spaces to nurture creativity, learning and enjoyment, is the subject of a lively seminar being given by staff from The Conservation Volunteers at the Scottish Learning Festival on 19 September at the SECC in Glasgow. More details at www.scottishlearningfestival.com Outdoor Learning in Schools and Environmental Education are regular topics in the Environmental and Community Leaders Training Programme. An opportunity for teachers and support workers to gain some ‘green’ inspiration and information – page 11. Citizen Science is a growing opportunity for ‘ordinary’ people, including school kids, to contribute to our environmental knowledge. This includes activities as diverse as monitoring river levels to wildlife identification using iSpot – page 12. Pupils are increasingly benefitting from the healthy activities of TCV-run School Green Gyms – page 8. The environment can trigger a wealth of artistic activities for young people. An example is photography which is showcased in the Focus Environment competition open to all of Scotland’s secondary school pupils. Be inspired by some of our creative young talent at www.focusenvironment.com

For further information, contact Julie Grant at j.grant@tcv.org.uk or 01292 525010. 15


Rewarding Young Scots

The Conservation Volunteers is looking for communities and or/community groups who would like a one day Community Resilience workshop delivered free of charge during Autumn 2012. We are trialling these new workshops and would deliver it in your own community, accommodating up to 12 participants. The workshop will be of benefit to any communities or groups who would like to know more about resilience. Perhaps your community is prone to flooding, severe winter weather, or you’d just like to know more about what to do in an emergency situation. No prior knowledge is required and the following topics will be covered: • What is Community Resilience? • Community Asset Audits • Community Emergency Plans • Home Emergency Kits • Liasing with the Emergency Services • Find further resources, contacts, and training in Community Resilience To find out more, please contact Kerry Riddell on 01848 200381 or e-mail k.riddell@tcv.org.uk

New NTS group Our friends at the National Trust for Scotland have a new Highland Conservation Volunteer Group. Details at: www.nts.org.uk/Volunteering/Outdoor

Follow us online vimeo.com/conservationvolunteers twitter.com/tcvscotland #JoinInFeelGood facebook.com/tcvscotland The Network Bulletin is published by TCV Scotland. Views and opinions expressed in the Bulletin do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or of The Conservation Volunteers. Editor Graham Burns E g.burns@tcv.org.uk T 0141 552 5294 ©BTCV 2012. TCV Scotland is a trading name of BTCV, a charity registered in Scotland SC039302, and England 261009. Green Gym is a Registered Trade Mark. Recycled paper

Where to find us Head Office Balallan House 24 Allan Park Stirling FK8 2QG T 01786 479697 F 01786 465359 E scotland@tcv.org.uk Foucasie Grandholme Aberdeen AB22 8AR T 01224 724884 F 01224 724055 E aberdeen@tcv.org.uk

The Conservation Volunteers has a great new partnership with Young Scot and can offer both points for volunteering as well as rewards for all Young Scot card holders. So, we’re encouraging young people to try something different and take part in an outdoor learning experience whilst building up Young Scot points. We can offer all Young Scot card holders unique rewards and achievements. Could this include you? If so, use your points to unlock our Bronze, Silver and Gold rewards, and you can select from a variety of fantastic rewards: be an assistant project leader for a day, receive free biodiversity training, or gain a Community Support Kit to help get your own environmental project off the ground. To find out more visit www.youngscot.org/rewards or get in touch with your local TCV Scotland office, or call Jenny Adams on 07764 655637.

30 Millbank Road Munlochy Inverness IV8 8ND T 01463 811560 F 01463 811661 E inverness@tcv.org.uk Unit M1 143 Charles Street Royston Glasgow G21 2QA T 0141 552 5294 F 0141 552 0418 E glasgow@tcv.org.uk Glasgow Life Green Gym Blairtummock House 20 Baldinnie Road Easterhouse Glasgow G34 9EE T 0141 276 1785 E Julie.WilsonGL@glasgow.gov.uk Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre Wood Street Grangemouth FK3 8LH T 01324 471600 F 01324 471600 E jupiter-nursery@tcv.org.uk The Donald Hendrie Building SAC Auchincruive Ayr KA6 5HW T 01292 525178 F 01292 521872 E ayr@tcv.org.uk

New Group Stirling Weekenders

TCV Edinburgh is in the process of moving to new premises. T 07740 899558 or 08824 522314 E edinburgh@tcv.org.uk

TCV has a new Stirling Weekend Group, meeting every second Sunday. New volunteers very welcome! For details, contact Ali Lawson at 01786 476178, or 07917 555850.

TCV Registered Office Sedum House Mallard Way Doncaster DN4 8DB T 01302 388883 F 01302 311531 E information@tcv.org.uk [NetBul-Summer12/GB/RB/Sev]

Building Community Resilience

TCV Scotland’s community and environmental volunteering activities are supported by:

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Network Bulletin - Summer 2012