Spring 2010 newsletter

Welcome to the Spring Newsletter from the Southern Uplands Partnership. After a very cold few weeks, things are looking up with lighter mornings and the snowdrops out. The SUP has been very busy recently with lots of projects moving forward and renewed support from a number of partners. 2010 looks like being a positive year!

The Partnership is sad to report that Flora McDowall has decided to move on to other things. Flora was with the SUP for more than 6 years, and her energy and enthusiasm were key to much of the work we have been able to do in recent years. Flora timed her departure to ensure that key bits of work were completed with minimal loose-ends for which we are very grateful. The Board presented Flora with a Lindean Glass bowl at a lunch just before Christmas and wished her well in her new enterprises. She will be very hard to replace.

In the current climate, the SUP is reviewing where priorities lie before deciding how best to try to fill the gap. In the meantime the Lindean Office is main contact point and a decision on any future post(s) will be made shortly.

We will be mailing out to all current and previous members in the next few weeks to remind you about subscriptions. We very much depend on memberships and donations to keep us going – especially as so many sources of support are currently being squeezed or drying up completely. Thank you for the support you give – it is very much appreciated.

In this edition:

Project News – a summary of progress with the various SUP project
The Brian Pack Review. The interim report is out for comment – with a deadline of 5th March. Also look out for the local Rural Network events – details below.
A Message about Conservation Agreements from Duncan McConchie of Laggan Outdoor Ltd
The Book of the Project – the Carrifran Wildwood
A Happy Sustainable Scotland? – a survey from Forward Scotland
Making Local Food Work
Forthcoming Events

Project News
The study into how to celebrate the lives of Donald and Jeff Watson has now been completed and the report is available here. (Opens as a PDF)

The next stage is for a Trust to be established which will then start to raise the funding needed to implement the reports’ recommendations which include a possible visitor centre in St Johns Town of Dalry.

John SellersNith Estuary Cluster project. John Sellers has been meeting with businesses in the project area and starting to develop some project ideas. He is working with staff from Fusion (http://www.fusionlinking.co.uk) to explore how local businesses can work better together. Some project ideas are starting to take shape and we will report on these in future.

The SUP recently organised a meeting of Walking Festival Organisers from across South Scotland and this generated a lot of interest and a report which is now on the website. Click here to read the report. The participants agreed that they should do more to support each other and try to better promote South Scotland as the place to come and walk. Meanwhile the 2010 Borders Walking Festival (4th to 12th September) is taking shape with over 50 walks being planned around Peebles and the Tweed Valley. See www.borderswalking.comfor details.

Upland habitat Enhancement Project. Chris Land has been busy meeting land managers who are interested in doing more for black grouse. Under the SRDP there is scope to do a range of habitat enhancement work and Chris is working to ensure that applications are appropriate and joined-up! Thanks to RSPB funding, the SUP is taking on a temporary black grouse surveyor to undertake lek counts this spring. Click here to see the job advert.

The SUP has also been awarded funding by Community Energy Scotland to hold a renewable energy fair for communities in Galashiels on 23rd and 24th April. We are creating a temporary post to allow someone to organise and promote this. More news to follow.

In partnership with the Federations of Village Halls in the Borders, the SUP has also submitted an application for Climate Challenge Funding to allow the employment of field staff who would work with a number of hall committees to improve energy efficiency and to promote energy awareness in the communities these halls serve. Competition for these grants is now stiff but our fingers are crossed.

Working with the Heather Trust, the Crichton Carbon Centre, S Lanarkshire Council and the Rural Economy and Landuse Unit (RELU), steps are being taken to hold a conference later this year on the Uplands and Carbon. This will be targeted at land managers and owners and will promote practical action that can be taken to maximise the ability of our uplands to absorb carbon and to hold water. Speakers are currently being approached and we hope to publicise details shortly.

Red SquirrelRed Squirrels in South Scotland. We are delighted to report that Stephanie Johnstone gave birth to a baby boy on the 8th of January in Australia. While Stephanie has been busy dealing with pregnancy, suffering the heat of Brisbane and getting used to motherhood, Alison Graham has been holding the “Red Squirrel fort” and doing an excellent job. She and Richard have been developing additional cross-border working in the hope that we can stop the future spread of diseased grey squirrels into Scotland.

Work on the Eco-Office project continues with community consultation work about to begin and architectural drawings being produced. Many questions remain to be answered but it is hoped that the work being done will be valuable even if the Canonbie site turns out to be unsuitable.

Biosphere Champions Wanted. The idea of re-designating the existing Biosphere Reserve under revised UNESCO criteria is moving forward. Several community groups in Ayrshire are quite fired-up at the prospect. The SUP has been asked to help identify some Biosphere Champions on the Dumfries & Galloway side of the line.

Click here for more information or email piptabor@sup.org.uk to find out more.

The Brian Pack Review
The most recent review of the way agriculture in Scotland should be supported is now out. This is an interim report so there is a chance to make comment. There are already concerns that the changes proposed will tend to see resources refocused away from the rural South towards the North and West.

A personal message from Duncan McConchie of Laggan Outdoor Ltd
Conservation Agreements.

“In the 1940s & 50’s, some farms and businesses in the Gatehouse of Fleet area were sold by local estates and at the time these farms and businesses were occupied by tenants.

Some influential people in the area were supporters of the National Trust and encouraged the estates to put the properties which they were selling under covenants to the National Trust.  All of the covenants differ from each other depending on location.  Some have restrictions to stop them putting caravans, tents or hutments on their property (these businesses are coastal) while others stop them from being able to change the names on the title deeds of houses on their land.  Some farmers are restricted from putting any new farm buildings up.

Whilst these covenants have been accepted over the years, times are changing, farming has changed and these covenants are beginning to restrict not only the farms and businesses, but the local communities.  Tourism is growing year upon year, yet a lot of businesses are stopped from diversifying to meet these demands.  The biggest annoyance is that some of those who put businesses under the covenants have been free to develop at will with no restrictions whatsoever.

We have formed a group of community members who are looking to talk with the National Trust for Scotland to find ways in which we can work together to overcome these issues and find proactive ways to move forward.

We are hoping to begin discussions in December with local and national members of the National Trust for Scotland and we are keen to find as many people as we can, who find themselves in similar positions, to join us in our efforts to confront these issues.”

If you have a similar experience or are able to offer advice please call Duncan on 01557 840217 or email  duncan@lagganoutdoor.co.uk

The Carrifran Wildwood Story: ecological restoration from the grass roots

By Myrtle & Philip Ashmole with members of the Wildwood Group

The Carrifran Wildwood StoryForeword by Professor Aubrey Manning OBE
Published in 2009 by Borders Forest Trust
Supported by Scottish Natural Heritage
ISBN: 978-09534346-4-0
Short listed for the Robin Jenkins Literary Award 2008/09
Paperback 246 x 189 mm; 224 pages; 220 photographs; 5 maps, 25 illustrations.
Price £15, Postage £5.

If ordered direct from Borders Forest Trust all the proceeds go to the Wildwood project.
Borders Forest Trust, Ancrum, Jedburgh, Scotland, TD8 6TU. Tel: +44 (0)1835 830750.
Email: wildwood@bordersforesttrust.org
Websites: www.bordersforesttrust.org www.carrifran.org.uk

Restoring the land – a grass-roots group can do it
The Wildwood Group started with a dream. Nearly all of the natural woodland in Southern Scotland was destroyed centuries ago by grazing, felling and burning, but this small group of enthusiastic people decided to try to return one whole valley to the wilderness that it would have been 6000 years ago. Having no land and no money did not deter them. They widened their group and soon involved volunteers with a broad range of expertise including forestry, ecology and planning, as well as artists and writers. Fifteen years on, with half a million trees planted in a spectacular 1600 acre valley, this inspirational book tells the story of how the group found the site, raised the money, planned the restoration, overcame difficulties and patiently dealt with many statutory bodies. It is written as a story but is based on detailed research and should be invaluable to anyone becoming involved in a similar project. The book is profusely illustrated and the text is interspersed with ‘boxes’ written by many of the people who have played a part in the project.

A Happy Sustainable Scotland?

Forward Scotland believes that societies that pursue sustainable development will improve the well-being of people and the communities in which they live, for the long-term. This can only be achieved by integrating economic, environmental and social impacts.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the traditional measure of economic performance and is used by governments as a proxy of society’s well-being. The credibility of this measure has been seriously challenged and exposed as inadequate by academics, economists and non-governmental organisations the world over.

It is clear that this measure does not reflect the quality of the life experienced by people, the quality of education, the condition of our environment,  the strength of our relationships, the confidence of our population.

Have your say

In 2008 we conducted a survey of people in Scotland to provide a snap shot of people’s view of their well-being. The world has revolved a few times since then, banking crisis, global recession, record unemployment, the First Black President of the USA, our first Climate Change Bill and ever increasing life expectancy.  We are now looking to repeat the survey to discover how people in Scotland feel in these new circumstances. 

Making Local Food Work
Lots happening on the local food front! Click here for the January Newsletter.

Forthcoming Events

South Scotland Rural Network Events. Two Rural Get-Togethers are planned for S Scotland following on from the National Rural Gathering that took place in September.

  • Borders: Springwood Hall, Kelso – 16th February 2010
  • Dumfries & Galloway: Town Hall, Lockerbie – 17th February 2010
  • South Lanarkshire: Lanark Agricultural Centre, Lanark – 24th March 2010


Floors Woodfuel Workshop – 25 February. You might be interested in following event. It’s aimed at anyone interested in managing/harvesting woods for fuel, particularly small/medium sized woods for own use or sale. It will be of interest to woodland owners, managers and contractors, particularly those thinking of doing their own fuelwood harvesting, including thinning. Click here for more information. (Opens as a PDF)

Environment Fair Community Day on Friday 19th March at DGOne. Click here for more information. (Opens as a PDF)

Country Life – Building inclusive rural communities. Rural Housing Service Annual Conference 25/26 February 2010
The Birnam Institute, Birnam, by Dunkeld, Perthshire
See http://www.ruralhousingscotland.org/

Voluntary Sector Funding and Information Roadshow – Thursday 25th February 2010, Queens Hotel, Lockerbie, 2.30 pm – 5.30pm. Click here for more information. (Opens as a PDF)

Habitats are home: : celebrating International Year of Biodiversity in South Lanarkshire. 
A South Lanarkshire Local Biodiversity Partnership (SLBP) and Community Planning Partnership Conference.
Rutherglen Town Hall – April 23rd 2010. For more information click here.

Upland Solutions Stakeholders Workshop – Thursday 25th February 2010 – 11.00am -3pm – Lochside Hotel, New Cummnock.
Click here for more information. (Opens as a PDF)

Calling all local food enthusiasts:
Nourish – Scotland’s sustainable food network, is meeting in Stirling on February 26th and 27th.

Since the recent local food gathering at Dunbar in October 2009, a temporary steering group has been working to take forward the consensus that there should be a national network linking people and organisations with an interest in sustainable food.

The network is called: Nourish – Scotland’ sustainable food network.

Nourish is open to all who are actively growing, selling and eating locally produced food in Scotland – be they farmers, gardeners, Transition food groups, local markets, chefs, artisan pie-makers or just keen eaters of good local food.
The network will be a source of knowledge and encouragement for members but additionally will be able to consult and engage with its members to inform and contribute to food policy as this is being developed at local and national level in Scotland.

For Nourish to have a voice and be a force for change, we need you to come and join us.
Our first public meeting will be in Stirling on February 26th and 27th. 

On Friday the 26th there will be an informal programme of visits and discussions in the afternoon, followed by a meal in the evening.

On Saturday the 27th  we will be discussing both how to strengthen our local food culture in Scotland and how to organise the network effectively.

Contact Lesley McLaren for further info: 01337 858838

Borders Forest Trust is holding a conference on “Opportunities for Ecological Restoration” on 25th March 2010 at Peebles Hydro. See www.bordersforesttrust.org

The event should prove to be an informative and inspirational day with a group of well respected speakers covering practical lessons learned and benefits gained from ecological restoration.

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