Happy New Year

The Southern Upland Partnership would like to wish all its supporters a very happy New Year and prosperous and fulfilling 2014. As ever with the squeeze on funding we are looking for new sources of revenue. If you are able to renew your membership, make a donation or become a patron then please go to the website or drop us an e-mail at info@sup.org.uk. Every little bit helps us to continue what we hope you’d agree is important work in the South of Scotland.

If you have a project that you need help managing then please consider using the SUP, we have an excellent track record in developing, managing and implementing projects and the fees we receive help us to do the work no one will else pay for on raising rural policy issues that affect all our rural communities in the South of Scotland.

Landuse Strategy
Hopefully you’ll have survived the wild wet and stormy weather we had over the festive period and are now looking forward to a more settled New Year. Whether you managed to stay dry or not during the winter storms with climate experts predicting more extreme weather of this type then you may be interested to get involved in some of the Ecosystem Services work that SUP are supporting across Southern Scotland.

There are two key projects taking place. The Borders Landuse Strategy  has involved mapping different land uses including woodland, commercial forestry, agriculture, recreation along with geological information, soil types, water courses, habitat and species information etc to help identify future opportunities  for ‘best’ use of our land. Not surprisingly one of the areas likely to be of most interest is how changes in land use might be used to reduce incidences of flash flooding. The issue then is at what cost to the land manager and the productivity of the land?

Tweed Forum are leading on this work in the Borders and recently  held a session run jointly with SUP in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys where a range of participants were invited to join the debate and share their views. There are a range of other public meetings taking place across the Borders over the next month or two, for more information go to http://www.tweedforum.org

Meanwhile SUP in partnership with SNH have carried out a mapping exercise in the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere gathering an enormous amount of similar data on land use. We are all keen to start sharing this information to inform future decision- making  and once the new biosphere team are in place, we hope to publicise opportunities for you to get involved. So if you’re interested watch this space and we’ll keep you up to date.

The excellent news on the biosphere front is that a partnership of D&G, South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire, SNH and FCS have managed to pull together the funding to support the employment of three new project officers to take forward development of the biosphere for the next three years. Once again SUP has been asked to host the positions and to use their expertise to guide the development. It’s a really exciting time for the biosphere and having a 3 year commitment will  enable us to establish  a  core staff team  on a  secure footing to concentrate on develop things for the longer term.

The positions being appointed will include;

A Natural Heritage Officer
A Community and Learning Officer
And a Business and Development Officer

If you are interested in any of these positions then please check the SUP website for recruitment adverts.  http://www.sup.org.uk/employment.asp

SW Scotland Coastal Path

Thanks to the support of D&G Council and SNH we are once again pursuing the coastal path project in SW Scotland. Funding has been provided to work with a local consultant to develop a fully surveyed and costed footpath specification for work between Portpatrick and the Mull of Galloway. We are also looking at a route between Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet. Both surveys will involve consultation with landowners, communities and businesses to find the best way to ensure all in the region can benefit from this exciting aspiration. Dates for public consultations are likely to be March of this year, once they are finalised we’ll let you know so you can get involved.

Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys Project

The LEADER and Lottery supported project which has been co-ordinated by Julie Nock is now ended with the final report available on the SUP website. There is now a constituted Community Development Company in place to take the project plans forward. Much has been learned during this three year project and we are hoping we can retain the benefits of this and share it with other community groups who want to do things for themselves. Have a look at the report and let us know if you think we can help you.

Wild Seasons

The latest stage of the Wild Seasons project has also ended, with Iain Wilson completing his contract. Thanks to SNH and LEADER support, we have been able to assist a number of businesses develop “wild-friendly” policies, and a much better understanding of what is available in Dumfries & Galloway. The Wild Seasons website is now seen as a leading example of wildlife-watching promotion and we hope that it will continue to promote the wonderful opportunities for nature-based tourism in S Scotland. The report can be downloaded here.

D&G Nature Tourism Summit

Destination Dumfries and Galloway are holding a Nature tourism summit with Caroline Warburton (formally Wild Scotland) as the key note speaker and including the launch of the Wild Seasons D&G nature tourism Marketing Guide. There will be facilitated workshops and networking opportunities.

Its a FREE event including light lunch.

Date: 26 February
Time: 10.30 – 15.30
Venue: Cream o’Galloway, Gatehouse of Fleet


We are working on two events for later this year. One will look at the vital role of biological and environmental information in supporting local decision making and the need for local expertise in collating and interpreting data. The D&GERC has been doing an excellent job, and we want to see it’s role broadened and strengthened in the coming years.

The second event will look at the thorny issue of “sustainable communities” The need for affordable housing and low-carbon homes; for rural broadband; for local transport and attraction of younger people, are all inter-linked and we hope to bring key people together to help identify new ways forward. Watch out for news on these events in the coming weeks.

Agri-Tourism Monitor Farms
Scottish Enterprise is funding the establishment of two new Monitor Farms, one of which is likely to be in the Southern Uplands. The aim is to explore what makes farm-based tourism businesses work best. If you have not come across this concept before you might like to see: http://www.qmscotland.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=720&Itemid=96

Watch out for news on this in the coming weeks.

Farmers sought to take part in Schmallenberg online survey
An online survey is currently being carried out looking at current attitudes of Scottish farmers and smallholders to the threat of Schmallenberg virus and the use of vaccination. Dr Mary Fraser from Edinburgh Napier University is carrying out the survey as part of a Moredun Foundation Scholarship. Find out more in Farmers sought to take part in Schmallenberg online survey.

 “Caring together for nature.” 
A Manual on land stewardship as a tool to promote social involvement with the natural environment in Europe
The manual has been produced in the framework of the LandLife project and aims to communicate land stewardship and instruments and tools to implement it, using a European-wide approach. The Manual shows the great potential of Land Stewardship as a tool for nature and biodiversity conservation in Europe.

The Manual includes tips and tricks on how to create and improve land stewardship practices and initiatives, by taking into account different perspectives of stakeholders involved, from landowners, public and private organisations to the general public and citizens. Also, it describes how coordinated land stewardship initiatives contribute to the implementation of European policies such as Natura 2000 and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Manual has been edited in two formats: a shorter version available in EnglishSpanishCatalanFrench and Italian and an extended version (e-Manual) in English.

You can download for free both the online and the shorter version here http://www.landstewardship.eu/land-stewardship/download-archive/category/test

The First European Land Stewardship Congress will take place in Barcelona the 05t and 07th November 2014.  If you are interested to take part please visit the Congress website.

Creative Places

Creative Dumfries - A Creative Place NomineeNow in its third year, the Creative Place Awards were established to celebrate and recognise the hard work and imagination that contribute to the rich cultural life of a community, as well as its social and economic well-being. The initiative focuses on creative programmes in areas outwith Scotland’s main cities. Dumfries has been nominated as one of three 2014 towns in a partnership between the Big Burns Supper, The Stove and Electric Theatre. The 2014 winners will be announced at the Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock on 29 January.

To find out more and support the bid go to http://www.creativedumfries.com/

To All Borders Business Organisations

The Borders Chamber has organised a referendum debate to be held at the Borders College, Galashiels from 7-9pm on Thursday 20th February 2014.

Participants are:

Paul Wheelhouse MSP and Joan McAlpine MSP for the YES campaign
David Mundell MP and Michael Moore MP for the NO campaign

This debate is open to all to attend and I would be grateful if you could promote it to your members.

Bruce Simpson
Communications Director

Read some more of our articles

More News