Autumn / Winter Newsletter 2009

LochanWelcome to the Southern Uplands Partnership Autumn/Winter Newsletter.  In spite of Christmas decorations appearing in the shops already we hope this is arriving well before the festive rush.

Over the last few weeks we have recruited three new team members at the Partnership and in this newsletter we will focus on them and the projects that they will be delivering.   Both the Nith Estuary project and the Upland Enhancement project have taken a fair bit of time and effort – as well as much appreciated support from partners –  to get in place, so we are very pleased indeed to see action underway!

In this issue…

John Sellers – Facilitator, North Estuary Tourism Project
Chris Land – Project Officer, Uplands Habitat Enhancement Project, Borders
Alison Graham- Project Officer, Red Squirrels in South Scotland, based in Dalbeattie
SUP signs up to 10:10
Vattenfall meeting
Financial Assistance for Small Businesses
What’s cooking in The Melting Pot?

John Sellers – Facilitator, North Estuary Tourism Project

John SellersNith EstuarySUP has been working for a number of years to encourage the collaborative development of nature based tourism (NBT) activity.   NBT is where wildlife, habitats and landscapes are promoted as the core visitor attraction.  Scottish Natural Heritage demonstrated their support the proposal to establish a pilot project by funding a development study earlier this year.

The Nith Estuary National Scenic Area (NSA) and surrounding area was selected for the pilot because of its very significant wildlife interest, variety of nature reserves and other attractions.  Development around the Nith NSA also offers an opportunity to build on recommendations from a 2004 Countryside Exchange Team visit.  The Exchange visit brought together land conservation, development and planning professionals from North America and the UK to consider ways to maximise the visitor appeal of the Caerlaverock area.  The 2004 consultation and workshops stirred up considerable local interest, but although all of the individual attractions and organisations involved were keen to draw in more visitors out with the busy summer months, none has had the resources to take the lead in developing cluster marketing and there was nobody to facilitate progress.

As the result of the study funding is now in place from Scottish National Heritage and LEADER to fund a part time facilitator for two years.   This role will be filled by John Sellers, who will be based at the superb new RSPB Sulwath Centre at Mersehead.  John brings considerable experience to role of facilitator, having delivered a number of rural development projects on the opposite side of the Solway, including several tourism initiatives.   John is well aware that local business people have to allocate time carefully so getting the focus of the project right is vital.  He explains, ‘Having also been the owner of small businesses, I know just how valuable time is.   For this project to work we need to produce ‘real’ outputs that have been clearly defined and collaboratively decided upon’.

While deciding on a theme for the cluster will be in the hands of the local stakeholders, there is great potential around is the world-class spectacle provided by the 50,000 geese which visit each year.  The seasonal visits of these birds between September – April offers potential to attract visitors in the quieter, off-peak months. There are significant opportunities for people with micro/small businesses (B&Bs, guesthouses, pubs, diversified farm enterprises, bike hire companies, fishing/birding guides, etc) and communities running events or offering activities to benefit from collaborating with each other and the larger attractions.  The project will also help raise awareness amongst local people of opportunities to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep in a variety of sustainable ways, including walking, cycling and fishing.

Click here for recent press release.

Nith Estuary NBT Open Meeting 
John is arranging an on open meeting for all interested parties later in November.   Watch the local press or visit the SUP website for information, or contact John on 07717 767 936/

Chris Land – Project Officer, 
Uplands Habitat Enhancement Project, Borders.

Chris Land - Project OfficerBlack Grouse - Foresetry Commission Picture LibraryChris joins SUP as a recent graduate of Sheffield Hallam University where he studied for a BSc in Environmental Conservation.  His research project was on re-introducing Black grouse into the Peak District, looking at two former haunts to assess their suitability for once more holding a population of Black grouse.   Previously Chris worked as a fabricator for 18 years and after being offered redundancy decided to return to education to realise a long held desire to become involved with managing and conserving the countryside.  Chris explains, ‘My hobbies include walking and country sports, and of course I have an interest in conservation, particularly of upland Britain. This led me to volunteer for upland habitat surveys for Moors for the Future here in Derbyshire, which I have done for the last two years. The post is a very exciting one for me and I’m really looking forward to starting and meeting the people in the Southern Uplands’.

The Uplands Habitat Enhancement project will work with land managers and their agents to put in place appropriate land management and habitat creation at a scale that will stop and reverse the decline in a range of upland species.  Primarily these species are the local black grouse population but also grey partridge, barn owl and a range of invertebrate and plant species.  The project will cover an area of approximately 700km2 roughly bounded by Peebles, Tweedsmuir, Ettrick and Selkirk.

During the project Chris will approach key landowners and managers and help them identify actions that will benefit upland habitats and species. Where necessary he can assist them to develop appropriate funding applications (including to the RDC scheme) – developing collaborative approaches wherever possible.  Free specialist advice and support will be available to local agents and landowners alike.

At least two training events for land managers and agents will be run on upland habitat enhancement.  The project also aims to develop a demonstration site (or sites) where ideal habitats and enhancement techniques can be seen and visits will be arranged as part of the training events.

This project has been funded by Scottish Borders LEADER Programme, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB. Contact Chris at

Alison Graham – Project Officer,
Red Squirrels in South Scotland, based in Dalbeattie

Chris Land - Project OfficerBlack Grouse - Foresetry Commission Picture LibraryAlison is joining the team until April to cover Stephanie Johnson’s maternity leave.   Alison moved to Dumfries & Galloway in April to work with Dumfries and Galloway Environmental Resources Centre on their Woodland Guardians Project, prior to that she worked with North Lanarkshire Council as the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) Project Officer.   The Woodland Guardians Project (which came to an end in October) was aimed at stimulating awareness of wildlife through biological recording. Through the project the Resources Centre intended introduce more people to wildlife recording and the DGERC and to gather more information on the region wildlife. Part of Alison’s role was to organise and run training courses and events, with local and national experts, throughout the region for project volunteers. Over 90 people volunteered in the project and Alison finished her time with the project collating all their records!

Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS) is now in its fourth phase.  This latest phase of the project is being carried out in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust who launched their Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel project in 2008.  New partnerships have also been formed with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission, as well as considerable input from the private sector.  Currently efforts are now focussed on halting the spread of the Squirrelpox virus that threatens to decimate Scotland’s red squirrel population.

Meantime we at SUP wish Stephanie all the best and look forward to hearing news of the new arrival in a few months time!
To find out more about the RSSS project, or to log squirrel sightings, log on to

Contact Alison at

Click here for an update of other current projects.

SUP signs up to 10:10

Everyone’s looking for something to do about climate change. What’s needed is something straightforward, immediate and meaningful.   SUP has joined thousands of individuals and organisations from across the country to unite behind one simple idea: that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in carbon emissions during 2010. It is called 10:10, and everyone can be a part of it.

Cutting 10% in one year is a bold target, but for most of us it’s an achievable one, and is in line with what scientists say we need right now. By signing up to 10:10 we’re not just promising to reduce our own emissions – we’re becoming part of a national drive to hit this ambitious goal country-wide. In our homes, in our workplaces, our schools and our hospitals, our galleries and football clubs and universities, we’ll be backing each other up as we take the first steps on the road to becoming a low-carbon society.

To find out more and sign up go to

Vattenfall meeting
We recently met with representatives of Vattenfall, a large energy company currently involved with a number of developments in the Southern Uplands. The Minch Moor wind farm scheme is one of theirs and they are keen to work with local people and groups to overcome areas of concern. The SUP expressed concern about an early version of this scheme when turbines were proposed right on one of the Tweed Trails equestrian routes. The latest designs have pulled turbines well away from this route.

At a time when cuts are being made by almost everyone, we think it is important that we talk to companies like Vattenfall to ensure that opportunities for the Uplands are not missed. These might include planning wind farm access routes to provide new linkages for cycling or riding or undertaking off-site habitat works to improve black grouse habitat.

We are also very keen to see the increase in renewable energy generating capacity matched with efforts to reduce overall energy consumption. In our view both are vital if we are to seriously address climate change.

If you want to hear what Vattenfall have to say you can read more here

Financial Assistance for Small Businesses

As part of its support for local businesses, Dumfries and Galloway Council offers discretionary grants of up to £5000 to support business development and sustainability amongst new start and established micro and small businesses in Dumfries and Galloway. The maximum contribution is 50% of total project costs and the application must be supported by the Business Plan.  To find out more about support, grants and loans click here… (opens as a PDF) Opens as a PDF

What’s cooking in The Melting Pot?

SUP members will have heard before bout The Melting Pot – an Incubator for Social Innovation located in Edinburgh.  On 1st October the community built social enterprise will be 2 years old and is celebrating their recent funding success with a £100K grant from the Scottish Government.

Founding and now Managing Director, Claire Carpenter says “I can’t believe where the time goes! 120 volunteers over 10 days were working day and night to create the space during our ‘eco fit-out’. Since then, we’ve supported over 150 individuals who’ve used our shared workspace and well over 400 organisations who regularly hold their meetings or events here.  It’s great to see an idea turning into reality.”

The Melting Pot is going form strength to strength, building on the positive reputation it’s developed over this time.  They’ve recently recruited for 3 new full time staff, secured funding to support capital improvement costs, hosted a number of public talks themed ‘Inspirational People: Innovative Ideas’, and given plenty of encouraging advice to others seeking to replicate their model.

Plans for the autumn include increasing the range and number of Member’s and public events, including a start-up social enterprise fair in conjunction with FirstPort; supporting a new volunteer programme, recruiting to the Board and piloting some ‘Assisted Places’  for start-up social entrepreneurs.

For more news about The Melting Pot and what’s cooking in it, sign up on line to receive their occasional e-bulletin and be inspired by the great things that people are doing every day to make the world a better place.


Country Life? Building inclusive rural communities 
Rural Housing Service Annual Conference 2010
25/26 February 2010 – Birnam, Perthshire
Keynote Speaker: Alex Neil MSP, Minster for Housing and Communities
Click here for full information(opens as a PDF) Opens as a PDF

Wildlife Tourism: Surviving and Thriving
Wild Scotland Conference and AGM
SNH Conference Centre, Battleby, nr Perth.
Thurs 19th November 2009
Click here for more information(opens as a PDF) Opens as a PDF

Evening Reception – The Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland
With Morag Alexander, the Scotland Commissioner and the Scotland Committee
5.00pm – 7.00pm, Monday 23rd November,
The Gilchrist Room, The Crichton, Dumfries.

The EHRC invites you to join them to find out more about the work and services of the Commission, the Scottish Rural Equality Network and what the forthcoming Equality Bill means for you. They would also like to hear more about equality and human rights issues.

Please send completed booking form to or call 0141 228 5920
Click here for Opens as a PDF invitation and Opens as a Word document booking form.

Sustainable Communities Mentorship Programme – Only a couple of spaces remaining, so act now if interested!
Ayr workshop, 26th & 27th November 2009, SAC Auchincruive, Ayr

The BTCV Scotland Sustainable Communities Mentorship Programme, delivered in partnership with the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity, offers training and support to individuals who want to inspire their own communities to take action on Sustainability and Climate Change. The costs of the programme are covered by BTCV Scotland with support from the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity.  Click here to read more.

What words, icons or images for you sum up the Scottish Borders?  Are you aware of the Our Scottish Borders regional brand?
In order to contribute to sustainable economic growth in the Borders, Scottish Borders Council along with other local bodies have developed the Our Scottish Borders regional brand to help promote the area as a high quality destination for living, working, studying and visiting, as well as offering first-class opportunities for business investment.  Stimulating a forward-looking, positive perception of the area is seen as an important part of the drive to promote the Scottish Borders.

Scottish Borders Council is undertaking a short online survey to gain your feedback on perceptions and opinions of the area, as well as of the regional brand.  You can have your say by completing our questionnaire online now, in confidence, at . It should take no more than 5 minutes to fill in.
As an added bonus, everyone who takes part will be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a Christmas hamper filled with Scottish Borders produce worth £100!


Tourism Intelligence Scotland – click here to register for updates

Please remember, we are always keen to include news and views from across the rural south of Scotland.   If you have items you would like to contribute for the Spring Newsletter (March 2010) please email items as Word documents with any photographs in JPEG format.   We look forward to hearing from you.

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