SUP Newsletter Late Summer 2016

Recruitment is underway for the Wild Film Festival Manager and for the Where Wildlife in Ayrshire Project Officer. Both posts attracted lots of interest and interviews take place in the next week or two. We are looking forward to both projects getting started.

Put the date in your diary –  The Wild Film Festival will take place from 24th to 26th March 2017 in Dumfries. It will be a weekend of celebration of the natural world through film, inspirational speakers and workshops. To the best of our knowledge this will be a unique event being the only Wild Film Festival taking place in the UK. The event will be one of Dumfries and Galloways major events for 2017, achieving regional and, hopefully, national significance.

The Wild Film Festival 2017 is funded by LEADER, Holywood Trust, Dumfries and Galloway Council (Major Events Fund and Gracefield Arts Centre) and EON (Robin Rigg Windfarm).

Where’s Wildlife in Ayrshire is an exciting new project just about to start in Ayrshire that is designed to get local people involved in learning how to identify local wildlife and using the records gathered to influence decision making that will ensure the natural heritage of the region is better protected.

Golden EagleThere is a new project to help boost numbers of Golden Eagles in the South of Scotland. Launched in August 2015 it has been awarded development funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A 2014 report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) found that Southern Scotland could potentially support up to 16 eagle pairs. Presently, there are no more than 2 to 4 pairs, with limited nesting success.

Following an approach by Scottish Land & Estates, RSPB Scotland and Buccleuch Estates to the Scottish Government, a partnership has been formed with SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland to take the work forward. The partnership is currently looking to involve a wide range of stakeholders, and it has launched a public consultation.

The initiative has the support of Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, who said:

“The Golden Eagle is a truly magnificent bird and is one of Scotland’s most iconic species. This project aims to boost the population of eagles in the south of Scotland and I heartily welcome the Heritage Lottery Fund support to help achieve this. We know that the area could potentially support more than a dozen pairs of eagles, which offers tremendous opportunities for wildlife tourism and biodiversity. I’m especially pleased to see such strong partnership work to hopefully make Golden Eagles a regular sight in the skies above the South of Scotland once again.”
SUP has been asked to assist with the consultation process.

The Scottish Rural Parliament will bring together 400 people to discuss the issues of greatest importance to rural communities in Scotland.

The event will be held in Brechin, Angus from 6 to 8 October and is free for most people to attend.

The event starts with visits to local projects on the Thursday morning, and ends on Friday evening with all of those present agreeing a Manifesto for rural Scotland – a statement of collective ambitions and needs – followed by a great dinner and entertainment that evening.

The Saturday is open to participants in the Rural Parliament as well as members of the public. There will be a fantastic range of exhibitors, fringe events – which anyone can host – more visits to local projects and an interesting discussion panel. Anyone can book onto one or more of the Saturday events.

There are also opportunities to exhibit, host a fringe event and support the event.

There are limited places for the Rural Parliament and organisers are asking people to register their interest in attending. They will ensure a good mix of people from the different regions of Scotland and a wide variety of interests and backgrounds are represented. They will confirm places at the event from those who have registered their interest in attending on an ongoing basis.

Visit the Scottish Rural Parliament website to find out more.

A fund to support affordable rural housing development has been created by the Scottish Government. This £25M grant fund is available to a range of organisations including community trusts, landowners, and development trusts.
Rural Housing Scotland has organised a seminar on the fund on Tuesday 06 September, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. in The Salmon Room, Buccleuch Arms Hotel, St Boswells.
You can book online at

At the seminar, the Scottish Government will provide information about the fund to organisations in the Scottish Borders, including what kind of project is eligible, how to apply and how much grant is available. Rural Housing Scotland will give details of how communities in other parts of Scotland have developed affordable housing and the support available to communities in the Scottish Borders to undertake their own projects.

Speakers include:
Joanne McDowell.  The Scottish Government
Derek Logie. Rural Housing Scotland
Gerry Begg. Scottish Borders Council – Local Housing Strategy
Linsay Chalmers. Community Land Scotland
Ailsa Raeburn. HIE/Scottish Land Fund – Working Together to Support Community Led Housing

The Government is setting up the Land Commission and is advertising for potential Commissioners. It would be good if at least one of these were from the South of Scotland. Applications have to be made by the 2nd September.
A Scottish Land Commission is to be set up in terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.   The members will be five “Land Commissioners” and a “Tenant Farming Commissioner”.

The Commission will conduct studies and research into the effect of law, policies and practices which will help form the evidence base for any future land reform measures to be introduced by the Scottish Government.

The Commission’s remit will extend to urban and rural land in Scotland and will cover all matters relating to land, including ownership, land rights, land management and the use of land.  The establishment of the Scottish Land Commission will contribute to the Scottish Government’s ambition to ensure that the nation’s urban and rural land delivers prosperity and sustainable growth for all parts of Scotland.
As a Land Commissioner, you will have the opportunity to help shape and develop the way that policies on matters relating to urban and rural land are researched, reviewed and understood, and how advice is given to Ministers and the Scottish Parliament.

This is a non-executive post that will be supported by a small team of full-time staff.
The Scottish Land Commission is due to open on 1 April 2017 with appointments to Commissioner posts expected to be made by the end of December 2016. Further details available Click here.

The SUP has been working with colleagues in France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria to develop a new type of holiday, one that allows discovery of “real” rural life in each country. The idea is that rather than spending a week lolling on a beach, you will get involved in local activities, meet local people, sample the local food and drink, try your hand at local rural crafts and go home having made a small contribution to a local project and had a rich, enjoyable and hopefully memorable experience. We hope to be able to share the various products later this year so you might want to check them out before booking that week in Tenerife. Further news to follow.

A PhD Scholarship, the result of a successful University of Glasgow application to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a prestigious ‘Collaborative Doctoral Award’ is about to start. The scholarship project will be undertaken by Natalie Marr, and supervised by Professor Hayden Lorimer in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences and Dr David Borthwick at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Dumfries.

A Collaborative Doctoral project involves a piece of academic research, but also activity within and contribution to the work of an organisation outside the University.  In this project, a student will work in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and in particular the Head of Tourism and Communication in the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, Keith Muir.  The student will also have input from Dr David Edwards of the Social & Economic Research Group, Forest Research, Edinburgh.

The project begins with the night sky and the importance of preserving dark skies for present and future generations.  The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park (established in 2009) is an important resource for Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere  – being one of the few locations to achieve this designation in the western world.  Dark skies are endangered owing to light pollution and urbanisation.  The PhD project will investigate why dark skies are important resources, and also why their popularity is increasing internationally (with Moffat, for example, recently becoming a Dark Sky Community).

The Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park is an important draw for dark sky lovers and dark sky tourists, but as one of the few places in the world where these enthusiasts can gather together in a designated park the research project wants to find out  how this influences local identity and local landuse; we want to find out how local communities identify with and celebrate the Dark Sky (one example being the music event Sanctuary at Murray’s Monument, created by local artists Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges).  Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere has the capacity to develop and grow this unique resource and by learning more about how it functions at the moment, and how people – both locals and tourists – react to it, the student can work with the Forestry Commission to make the experience even more unique in the future and help sustain this important feature of southwest Scotland.

More than this, though, the knowledge gained from Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park can be used to teach other groups and places internationally about the importance of being able to see a dark sky, to celebrate that, and use it to inform distinct local identity and tourism.

Through talking with locals, Biosphere Dark Sky Rangers, astronomers and lovers of stars our student will spend a great deal of time in project fieldwork in the region, which will trade in words and walks, stories and secrets, maps and memories, skyforms and landforms.  It is a unique opportunity to study the return of the dark as something vital, and to take lessons from the universe – as seen from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere skies – outwards to the wider world.


At the JAMES HOGG EXHIBITION Ettrick Valley (former Ettrick School) TD7 5JA
Sunday August 14th, 3 pm.

Come and join the author, Bruce Gilkison from New Zealand, a great-great-grandson of James Hogg.  He will discuss his ancestor’s remarkable travels through Scotland, starting in 1802, which he has followed over the past 2 years. And he’ll also discuss Hogg’s remarkable re-discovery in the past few decades, the beginning of a whole new journey in the 21st century.

No entry fee, but Donations to the Exhibition are always welcome.

Light refreshments will be provided.

All Welcome but please email to allow catering to be planned.

This year’s bumper programme of heritage events is now available on line. Click here for the full list of 130+ events at over 40 venues throughout September:

Join us on social media for daily updates and a full list of events   #BHeritageF16

We would love to see your photos and stories so please share them to our social media pages!

Julie Nock. Borders Heritage Festival Coordinator

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