Wildland, Nordic Walking, Energy Mapping and Climate Ready Biosphere.
It has been a hectic few months at the SUP. While the financial climate remains harsh – we seem to be getting busier, with positive developments on a number of fronts. We hosted what we think was the first meeting of Wild Land stakeholders in Scotland. The Tall-Hart-Fell wild land area is one of 42 in Scotland. Only 2 of these are in southern Scotland, and they illustrate that we do have some really wild country which we need to both respect and utilise. It is hoped that some positive actions will flow from this meeting in due course.
Working with the Creetown Initiative we have been exploring the possibility of a Nordic Walking Centre being developed there, centred on the lovely Balloch Wood. We have organised some Nordic Walking taster sessions with a qualified instructor to stimulate local interest. Response has been encouraging and we are now looking at the potential for a new project.
The idea of mapping small scale renewable energy potential has taken a step forward with Local Energy Scotland agreeing to support a pilot project centred on the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys. The work is out to tender and all being well should be completed early next year. It will map where there are opportunities for small scale wind, solar, hydro and biomass schemes, and the maps will be shared with the community and local businesses in the hope that some at least are developed. We are hoping this may be extended and lead to adoption by the Borders land use strategy pilot – providing an additional map for the excellent dataset that already exists.
Autumn Watch on the BBC has been focussed on Caerlaverock and has helped promote Wild Autumn and the Wild Seasons website. We have been working hard to develop the next phase of Wild Seasons ahead of the new LEADER programmes opening later this year. All being well we will have project officers in post next year to re-energise the whole rural tourism sector.
The Biosphere Partnership have been working with Adaptation Scotland to develop a Climate Ready Biosphere Vision and Action Plan that identifies the challenges and opportunities presented by a changing climate, and presents a shared and positive vision for how the communities, the natural environment and economy can adapt and thrive. The Vision and Action Plan will be formally launched on the 20th November by Scottish Environment Minister Aileen McLeod.
Other news in the Biosphere has seen over 80 communities and businesses sign up to the Biosphere Charter which is a great indication as to how awareness is slowly growing. We have also recently had biosphere visits to both Dyfi in mid Wales and Urdaibai in the Basque country looking at projects they are running and future partnership opportunities.
If the Scottish Government gets approval to create a new South Scotland statistical region – it should qualify for increased funding support from the EU. At present South Scotland is considered as part of the central Scotland economy. This effectively hides the fact that there is a large rural area where the economy is struggling. The new arrangement would treat the Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, S Lanarkshire and S and E Ayrshire as an economic entity and this is likely to make it qualify for additional aid.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL CO-OPERATION ACTION FUND is a new £10 million scheme within the 2014-2020 Scottish Rural Development Programme. The first application round opened on 6 October 2015 and will close on 15 January 2016.
The purpose of the Environmental Co-operation Action Fund is to encourage and support landscape-scale environmental projects involving co-operating groups of farmers, foresters and/or other land managers. Funding is targeted to deliver the following priorities, which are most effectively addressed at a landscape scale and contribute to meeting Scotland’s targets for biodiversity, climate change and the water environment:
Habitat and degraded ecosystem restoration
Conservation of vulnerable priority species
Control of invasive non-native plant species
Catchment management for water quality
Physical restoration of water bodies
Natural flood management
Consideration will be given to funding good quality applications for projects which will effectively deliver at least one of these priorities, targeted at an appropriate location and scale and offering excellent value for money. Applicants must demonstrate the need for facilitation and the benefits of co-ordinated activity.
Further information on the Environmental Co-operation Action Fund and on how to apply is available here.
An ambitious European Rural Manifesto has been approved at the second European Rural Parliament, advocating action on 30 key issues.
Around 240 people from 40 European countries took part in the European Rural Parliament held at Schärding, Austria from 4 to 6 November. Participants approved the European Rural Manifesto which calls for full recognition of the right of rural communities to a quality of life and standard of living equal to that of urban populations, and to full participation in political processes.
Participants called for a refreshed and equitable partnership between people and governments. They recognised that rural people have a responsibility to act towards their own well-being, but demanded that governments at all levels, including the European institutions, work to make this crucial partnership effective.
The European Rural Parliament called on the European Union to mount a major review of the condition of rural areas within the EU. The European Rural Parliament campaign will continue over the next two years with a view to influencing the preparation of policies for the period beyond 2020.
The participants in the European Rural Parliament were acutely conscious that the town of Schärding, in which the gathering was held, is receiving 2000 refugees a day on their way across the border between Austria and Germany. For many rural areas this offers an opportunity to integrate refugees and other newcomers, given the necessary job creation, investment in housing, services and infrastructure. The European Rural Parliament called for a warm-hearted response, based on solidarity between peoples.
The European Rural Parliament organisers will continue to enable the actions called for within the manifesto, in cooperation with national and European partners, governments and institutions.
Visit the European Rural Parliament website to download the European Rural Manifesto.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF FARMING?
Join us to reflect on, discuss and influence the future of farming in Scotland.
This event, organized by Nourish Scotland in partnership with the Dumfries & Galloway Council, is a chance for you to add your ideas and share perspectives on the direction agriculture should be going.
Date: Monday 23 November, 2015
Time: The event will run from 10am to 12:30pm and will be followed by a light lunch
Venue: Woodbank House, 30 Edinburgh Road, Dumfries, DG1 1NW
Cost: This event is FREE but places are limited
Enquiries: Contact email@example.com for more information