SUP Newsletter – Spring 2012

Welcome to our Spring 2012 Newsletter and phew, what a start to the season it’s been, eh?  The fantastic weather seems to have condensed a month’s worth of spring awakenings into a week!  A walk through the excellent RSPB Wood of Cree near Newton Stewart over the week-end did show the potential downside though.  Stream beds and normally spectacular waterfalls now somewhat ‘depleted’, along with ‘crisp’ lichens clinging to trees, it must be rather shocking to our wildlife, even if its great news for those of us trying to get our gardens into some kind of order…..

Here at SUP we’re busy putting our AGM together; more details will follow, but please keep 26th June free in your diary and see if you can share transport to Moffat.  Your board of directors is keen to develop the partnership, not simply its numbers, but to review and revitalise its operation and role.  We hope to utilise the services of a renowned and inspirational speaker on partnerships within regeneration, with a highly significant track-record in making them work, on the day so it should be a challenging and rewarding session.  We also offer a light lunch, which always helps!  Watch this space but please do keep the date free………

In this edition:

Nature Based Tourism
Red Squirrels in South Scotland 
Upland Habitat Management (Black Grouse)
Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys Project
UNESCO Biosphere
The Big Fund
Are you a Future Friendly Champion?
For Your Diary

Nature Based Tourism
Wild SeasonsSUP continues to develop its long standing work in the development of nature based tourism across southern Scotland.  With funding from LEADER and SNH in Dumfries and Galloway, our work has concentrated on developing an approach to the coordination and presentation of existing efforts by the many organisations involved in making our natural heritage accessible to all, and particularly in developing this heritage into a significant driver for economic development.  The work is seen as a real success and is a key part of the development of tourism within the region.  Its results can be seen at  It is an approach we at SUP are keen to grow across southern Scotland……….. watch this space.

Red Squirrels in South Scotland
Red Squirrels in South ScotlandAfter an eleven year battle to save Scotland’s red squirrels the Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS) Project is nearing an end to its current phase with just 1 month of the Project remaining.  In recent months the RSSS team have been busily underway with preparations to move forward with a follow up project to build on current achievements.  Key to this, the project has been reviewing achievements made and assessing whether red squirrels have benefited from the work of RSSS.

Those of you on the RSSS trap-loan scheme will have been contacted in recent weeks by the project asking you for your records.  This and other trapping and monitoring data were used to formulate strong support that work on the ground is having some success and is making a difference to red squirrel conservation.  Current indications are promising with results showing an evident increase in the density of red squirrels throughout Dumfries and Galloway with sightings being reported at previously unrecorded locations and at greater numbers throughout the region highlighting that after eleven years this part of southern Scotland still maintains a strong red squirrel population.

The battle to control the spread of the squirrelpox virus remains the primary focus of the RSSS project.  In 2011 the squirrelpox outbreak at the Queensbury Estate, Thornhill, unfortunately resurfaced with four red squirrels being found to have contracted the squirrelpox virus.  In a separate incident just south of the Queensbury estate at a property close to Kirkland a new squirrelpox outbreak was declared with the confirmed case of the virus.  Buccleuch Ranger services, with support from RSSS and Forestry Commission staff responded quickly to these outbreaks and the disease in each of the locations appears to have been contained with no further incidences being reported.

In August 2011 the squirrelpox virus made a leap in the west, with the discovery of a confirmed seropositive grey squirrel in the Newton Stewart area of Dumfries and Galloway.  Additional control in the area by project staff found grey squirrels remained at low levels with no further seropositive incidence detected.  In addition to this westward leap seropositive grey squirrels were found further north in Mauchline Culzean Country Park and Uplawmoor.  Again RSSS with the help of SWT responded immediately, implementing intensive, targeted grey squirrel control.  At this stage it is difficult to confirm if the virus is present at infective levels.  However, initial results are encouraging with very low numbers of grey squirrels found to be present with the virus.

Despite these incidences, the project remains optimistic with current evidence suggesting that during vulnerable times the project is managing to control the number of seropositive grey squirrels present within established seropositive areas and contain red squirrelpox outbreaks.

At the end of February we were delighted to hear the Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson announce that the project will continue for a further two years.  This new phase of the project shall see RSSS and the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project merge to form a national scale red squirrel conservation project.  Funding for this next phase is to be provided by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

RSSS is the most powerful tool we have for red squirrel conservation in southern Scotland and it is important we continue this work so the next generation is able to enjoy this endearing species.  We could not achieve what we do without help and support from the public and we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported the Project and helped in the plight to save Scotland’s red squirrel.  Please continue to help save this iconic Scottish species.

Karen Ramoo, project officer, can be contacted on 01750 23446.

Upland Habitat Management (Black Grouse)

Chris Land, project officer for this programme, is at the best part of his year, lek survey time (which is saying something as it entails a regular commitment to 3.30am mornings!).  The weather to date as been good for surveying and Chris, along with Neil Macdonald and a few volunteers, have made good progress in getting around the 100 plus sites which need counting twice between late March and mid May.

Chris says that numbers are a little down on last years totals, which was expected after last year’s poor summer weather.  He says that the core sites should fare better as larger leks seem to withstand stochastic weather events better than smaller isolated groups.

Chris’s work to develop a habitat network based on Black Grouse, linking the core sites with the smaller under-threat populations is ongoing and urgently required if we are to protect the birds long term.

Chris can be contacted on 01750 725157

Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys Project
Our LEADER funded Project ‘Revitalising the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys’ is now half way through and some very positive results are emerging.  Valley residents and businesses have come together on a number of joint ventures to save money, increase tourism and promote the wealth of talent in the valleys.

Our funding pot of £10,000 for community ventures is now open to applicants from the valleys and the community of Yarrow has gained a weekly bus service.  I would still like to hear views from valley residents and find out what you would like to see in the valleys, so if you haven’t already done so please go to and fill out the online valleys questionnaire that you will find on the front page.  I would like to know how this project can assist you or make your life better in the year remaining.

Valleys Heating Oil Co Op 
After the first round of public meetings last August eight valley residents formed a co op to get a better purchase price on their heating oil.  The group now has 25 members who save between 2 and 5 pence per litre on every oil delivery.  Anyone who lives in the Ettrick or Yarrow can join the group.  Discounts are based on the amount of oil being purchased overall so if you buy heating oil why not join them as the more members the group has, the bigger the discounts will be for everyone.

The heating oil co op is free to join.  Just send me your contact details and the approximate number of litres you purchase per year and I will pass them on to the group’s coordinator.

Valleys resident Brian Roberts was so happy with the deal he got that he called me to say “ I got a fantastic discount on my normal oil price and would encourage any valleys resident to join the co op”.

Tourism Group 
Various tourism businesses have to come together with the intention to form a not for profit group to promote the valleys many tourist attractions and accommodation providers.  The valleys have stunning scenery, a wealth of native wildlife and some amazing walking/cycling routes so we should be overrun with tourists staying in one of our 670 bed (hotels, cottages, camping, caravanning, etc.) spaces.  The Tourism Group aim to promote the valleys to locals and tourists through a range of printed and web campaigns.  If you would like to join the group please contact me for details of the next meeting.

Artists and Crafters Group 
The valleys have a wide range of artists and crafts people producing an amazing variety of work.  If you are an artist or craft worker in the valleys and would like to network or promote your work collectively please contact me for details of the next meeting.

Project Investment Fund
As part of the LEADER funded project Revitalising the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys, a small (£10,000) fund is available to support community groups and initiatives to a maximum of £999 (including VAT).The investment can contribute towards:

  • Materials and equipment for a community initiative, activity or event
  • Equipment or supplies for new community groups or social enterprises within the valleys
  • Promotional / marketing  activity to raise awareness of an event or activity within the valleys and to increase participation
  • Promotional activity to raise awareness of the valleys

Any constituted organisation or group who are operating within the valleys who can demonstrate that they are working in the interests of the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys community can apply.

This scheme aims to assist new and existing groups to promote the valleys, develop new community business, educate the population, improve quality of life for local people, improve valleys services or leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

The investment may be used to add value to an existing event/activity or to help support a new event/activity.  The investment can also be used for anything that might result in more people visiting the valleys or to help raise awareness of the area to increase tourism.
For an application form please email, phone or write to me – contact details below.

Join the Valleys on Facebook 
The valleys page is proving very popular and the project currently has 150 friends.  The page is used to post community information about events, meetings, services – in fact anything that helps the community to know what is going on in the area.  If you would like to join us go to facebook: ettrickyarrowvalleys and add friend.

Yarrow Valley Bus 
The Yarrow bus service has been a slow starter with only a few people using it on a regular basis.  Having spoken to many of you I know this is because you haven’t been able to get a timetable for the service.  I have arranged for weather proof time tables to be placed along the bus route – these should go up within the next month – and will deliver printed time tables to the village halls, cafe’s and hotels once received.  Please encourage everyone to use this vital service as we don’t want the valley to be without a bus service again.  Also, if the service is well used there is an opportunity to increase it to more days.

The bus is available every Wednesday during term times as follows:

Leaves Cramalt at 9:45am, Yarrowford 10:20am, Selkirk 10:30am.  Return journey Selkirk 12:00, Yarrowford 12:10, Cramalt 12:45.

Fares: Cramalt single £3, £4.50 return, Yarrowford single £2.10 return £3.20

Anyone can travel on the daily school buses for approximately the same fares – leaves Gordon Arms 8am, leaves Selkirk High School 3.50pm

Producers Co-op 
Do you grow, farm or make things in the valleys? Would you be interested in a joint venture to sell your goods collectively or to network with other valleys producers? Drop me a line if you are interested in this group.

Free Business Training
Business Gateway run a rolling programme of free workshops to help you increase your business skills.  The courses cover a wide range of topics from Book Keeping right through to Building a Website.  To book you place or to find out more go to:

Most courses are held in Selkirk and include:

  • Business Start Up, Business Start Up Marketing, Business Start Up Finance, Website Builder, Improve Your Search Engine Ranking, Social Networking
  • Google Adwords (Pay Per Click), Marketing Your Business on TripAdvisor
  • Bookkeeping, Excel Accounts, Marketing Your Business, Customer Service,
  • PowerPoint & Presentation Skills, HMRC Newly Self Employed, HMRC Business Expenses and Capital Allowances, Self Assessment Online, How VAT Works, Becoming an Employer

Free Courses at the Social Enterprise Academy 
If you are interested in setting up a social enterprise in the valleys the Social Enterprise Academy are offering a range of free courses to help you.  Their one and two day courses can be accessed throughout the Borders or in the valleys if 10 or more people sign up.  The free courses can really help you make the most of your community ideas.  To find out more visit

If you would like to find out more about any of the Yarrow and Ettrick projects please contact the project officer, Julie Nock:

Revitalising the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys
C/O Buccleuch Estate Office
T: 01750 23760

UNESCO Biosphere

The SUP hosts two project officers who are delivering a project called Building Opportunities in the Biosphere.  Working with communities and businesses from across the proposed Biosphere area, they are seeking to help develop and support projects which reveal how human activity and natural conservation can be undertaken to the benefit of all.

The Biosphere Reserve is designated under UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Man and the Biosphere Programme (MaB) and aims to fulfill three complementary functions:

  1. To contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems & species;
  2. to foster economic & human development; and
  3. to provide support for research, monitoring, education & information exchange.

Plans are now well underway to designate the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve.  Following the formation of a partnership board including community, public and private sector representatives the application has been approved by the Scottish Government and the UK MaB committee and is now at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where a decision will be made in summer 2012.

If successful it will give the region an international accolade which demonstrates how nature conservation and sustainable development can go hand in hand. The worldwide recognition of SW Scotland’s Biosphere provides a unique opportunity to promote and demonstrate the region’s balanced relationship between people and nature to an international audience.

SW Scotland’s Biosphere Land Use Event Considers the Doon Valley
Over 40 people met at Dalduff Farm, Crosshill in late February to discuss and debate how we can make the most of the way we use the land for the benefit of the natural environment and the people who live and work in the local area. People representing farmers, landowners, communities, public agencies and local authorities took part in this second land use event held as part of the Building Opportunities in the Biosphere project funded through Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire Leader programmes.

The day started with Roger Crofts, Chair of the Biosphere Partnership Board, who spoke about what the land can provide by considering what we have and the work required to improve the way we use our land. He drew attention to the complexity of the situation and highlighted the opportunity for SW Scotland’s Biosphere to give a regional relevance to the Scottish Government’s new Land Use Strategy.

Dr Jayne Glass, from the University of Highlands and Islands, presented research undertaken on upland estate management and explained how better communications and a partnership approach were the key to creating opportunities for communities and land based businesses to benefit in harmony. Mark Gibson from Craigengillan Estate in Dalmellington gave an inspirational presentation on the benefits of involving local people in bringing back life to a once derelict estate and emphasised the value of the Biosphere as a catalyst for transforming the prospects for the area. Rob Soutar, District Manager of Galloway Forest Park talked about how Forestry Commission Scotland are working to fulfil the aspirations of SW Scotland’s Biosphere. Rebecca Audsley, Climate Change Manager from the Scottish Agricultural College in Ayr gave an insight into how actions like more efficient use of fuel and pesticide means land managers and farmers can meet Biosphere goals by benefiting their business and the wider environment.

Inspired by the examples given by the speakers, participants took part in an afternoon workshop to consider the pressures for change in the way we use and care for the Doon Valley. Biosphere project officer Ed Forrest said “The wide variety of skills and experience all focused on one area resulted in discussions that were both thought-provoking and challenging covering all aspects of land use from agriculture to forestry and wind energy to tourism. I am sure that when South West Scotland’s Biosphere gets its international designation this summer it will help us all work together to take a fresh look at achieving a more balanced use of land and a better outcome for everyone ”.

South West Scotland’s Biosphere is a candidate for a UNESCO designation because of its unique combination of special landscapes and wildlife areas, rich cultural heritage and communities who care about their environment and want to develop it in an environmentally sustainable way.

Further events are being planned and details about how people can get involved in developing SW Scotland’s Biosphere are available on:

The Big Fund

The Big Fund has opened its call for applications for the UK-Wide Coastal Communities Fund.

Stage One: Pre Application Form
A pre application form for organisations wishing to apply to the Coastal Communities Fund in the 2012-13 financial year is now available on the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) web site:

Applicants should read the Help Notes and Questions and Answers on BIG’s web site carefully before they complete the form.

The deadline for applications in Scotland is 27 April 2012.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

If you have any queries please contact the Big Lottery Fund Advice line on 0845 410 20 30.

Future Friendly


Are you working on a ‘green’ project in your area, or encouraging others to live more sustainably? We’re inviting community groups across the country to enter the 6th Future Friendly Awards, with the chance to win a bursary worth £10,000 in support of grassroots environmental projects.

Future Friendly is a consumer education programme, supported by leading sustainability experts, the Energy Saving Trust, Waste Watch and Waterwise, that seeks to inspire and enable people around the country to contribute towards a better tomorrow.

By planning ahead and doing little, everyday acts, you can become Future Friendly too. For example using trusted P&G brands Ariel, Lenor, Fairy, Flash and Pampers can help save energy, save water or reduce waste by up to 50%.

To find out more about Future Friendly and this year’s awards visit, or check out our video

You can submit your entries from 2nd April 2012 until midnight on 21st May 2012. To enter, just visit and fill out the simple entry form, telling us about your project or a community group you admire and what has been achieved in your local area. You will find sample entries on the website as a guide.

Past winners have included an online ‘swap shop’ for baby equipment, an environmentally friendly school and last year’s winners, Dig Deep to Help Us Grow, an innovative scheme to support Teesside Hospice through sales of donated locally grown fruit and vegetables in its charity shops. No matter what your project, the Future Friendly Awards invites entries from all those promoting ‘green living’ in their communities.

This year we’re going to be celebrating regional groups, with those shortlisted going forward to compete for a national prize of £10,000 to help support their project, to be announced at the Awards event held in London in June.

If you have any questions, just e-mail

Enter today and good luck!

The Future Friendly Team


Common Cause

Edinburgh – Common Cause workshop
9.30am – 4pm, Wednesday 25th April
Scottish Book Trust, High Street, Edinburgh

Do you:

  • Work on social or environmental issues?
  • Want to explore what values and frames mean for your work?
  • Want to meet others asking the same questions?

After the Common Cause workshop in Edinburgh in December booked up in less than 48 hours and was massively oversubscribed, there will be running another workshop at the end of April.  This workshop will offer the opportunity to explore the implications of values and frames for work on social and environmental issues.

More information about the workshop and booking information can be found at

Contact: Osbert Lancaster

Thanks to WWF Scotland and Oxfam in Scotland for supporting this event.

Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism

Turkey 11th – 18th May 2012 
Study Visit to Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaras

CHIST (Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism) Looking for examples of how cultural heritage interpretation is linked into sustainable tourism and how communities can work together utilising and conserving their cultural heritage to develop tourism in a sustainable way, to grow the economy and ultimately create new jobs.

“This incredible opportunity has confirmed to me, that for the tourist to be able to demystify a foreign culture, no number of museum visits or tours around pretty buildings or guidebooks will divulge as much or bring you closer to an understanding of a culture and way of life as food will. Food opens the curtains on a window which reveals the place, the living world as well as the ancient world, the environment, the traditions and the history. How lucky I am for I don’t believe any other place could make this so apparent.” Dede MacGillivray Turkey 2010

When we share our heritage it gets bigger, if we hide it, no one will know”. Filiz Hosukoglu,  Arch’s Turkish partner

Arch provides fully funded study visits for trainers from Scotland’s cultural heritage and tourism industry to visit organisations in other European countries to exchange best practice and establish new contacts and partnerships for future cooperation. Our European Partners work in a variety of contexts including cultural tourism, ‘living heritage’, traditional construction techniques and reconstruction, tourist network development and museums. These study visits are funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme; the costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence are covered by the grant.

CHIST ( Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism) aims to develop the skills of Scottish professionals who train or coach others in the field of heritage interpretation and sustainable tourism. This will be done through a programme of exchanges with partners in 6 European countries: Romania, Bulgaria,Turkey, Iceland, Estonia and Slovakia. 5/6 people will be sent to each country, spending 7 – 8 days participating in workshops, site visits, hands-on activities and seminars. This is intended to be an intellectual exchange -European partners will come to Scotland, but you are not obliged to host them. Although we do hope to initiate new projects from all of our partners.

CHIST offers wonderful opportunities to network with people doing similar work in Scotland. It’s a great way to fulfill you CPD requirements and personal training plans for 2012. All of our partners welcome input from participants, they are very happy to adjust their itinerary to cover topics that are of specific interest to Scottish practitioners
Details of previous exchanges are available on our website

For further details please contact Sheila Roberts at

Tel: 01764 670653
Fax: 01764 679002

Address: 1st Floor Davidson House, Drummond Street, Comrie, Perthshire, Scotland PH6 2DW

Spring Fling

Each year Dumfries and Galloway hosts one of most successful open studios event of its kind in Scotland.

Spring Fling 2012 takes place from 2 – 5 June and in celebration of its 10th birthday will host a four day event.  It’s a great opportunity to get behind the scenes of the studios of artists and makers whose doors are not usually open to the public, try your hand at a new skill or simply hop from studio to studio through some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery.

Wildlife Festival

This year there are more than 80 events over two weeks with some new exciting additions to the festival.  Look out for the new exhibition about ferns at Logan Botanic Gardens, “Pteridomania” running for the whole festival or the Wild Food Forage in Langholm with a cooking demonstration and free lunch!  Another event with a difference this year is making a Tattie bogle (or scarecrow to you and me) at Cairnsmore of Fleet NNR.  Popular activities held again this year include the Stars and Stripes badger watches at WWT Caerlaverock, the hatchery open days by both Galloway Fisheries Trust and the Nith Catchment Fishery Trust and a whole range of Family activities for Easter.  Events across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway with something for everyone to enjoy!

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