SUP Newsletter Summer 2015

We have some new staff for the Biosphere Project. Stephanie Miles has moved on and we have replaced her with a job-share between Emily Taylor and Wendy Fenton. Emily has been working with us on the Peatland Action project for some time. She and Wendy have previously worked with FWAG in D&G so they know the ground well. They have been completing the Priority Species and Habitats Action Plan for the biosphere and will be starting to engage land managers across the biosphere in how we can achieve these targets in the coming months.

Emily Taylor and Wendy Fenton are responsible for increasing awareness of the special natural environment within the Biosphere and guiding land managers towards how best to manage and enhance it.

Having lived in the area for many years Wendy Fenton has developed a keen understanding of the varied environments within the Biosphere and the interaction between them and the working landscape. Working initially for the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and then as an independent farm conservation advisor, advice provision within the farmed landscape has been at the core of her work since 2001. Particular emphasis has been on conservation grazing and integrating this with practical farm management. She relishes the opportunity of working with land managers within the Biosphere, towards further enhancing the valuable and often fragile habitats we have that make it such a special place.

Wendy Fenton AIEEM
Natural Heritage Officer
phone: 07467 374962

Originally hailing from the Isle of Coll, Emily’s passion is the countryside and the sustainable management of our natural environment. After gaining a BSc from the University of St Andrews in Marine Environmental Biology she worked as a Countryside Ranger in Aberdeenshire before moving to Galloway and working for the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). Her love of research, however, led her back to academia, first gaining a Master’s degree from the University of Glasgow in Carbon Management and then completing a PhD with the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology entitled “The impacts of fire on blanket bogs: implications for vegetation and the carbon cycle”. She now works for the Crichton Carbon Centre where she continues research and works as a project officer for the Biosphere as well as the Peatland Action peatland restoration project.

Dr Emily Taylor
Natural Heritage Officer
phone: 01387 702017

Chimwemwe has also left to undertake a Masters degree, and we have recruited Marie McNulty to take over the Business Development role. Marie has been living and working in Ayrshire and brings with her excellent business engagement experience. Her focus over the next few months will be ensuring that the Biosphere Charter is widely supported and that the Biosphere develops a much higher profile.

If you’d like to sign up for the Biosphere Charter then you can complete a simple form by clicking here.

SUP has been working with D&G Council to survey the coastal path around the Rhins. There is now growing excitement at the prospect of the Rhins Coastal Trail being realised. This will make it possible to walk right round the Rhins starting and finishing in Stranraer. There are still quite a few  hoops to go through particularly on raising funding, but it looks like this fantastic walk could become a reality in the next year or two.

Progress with this project has been slow in recent months due to the ending of LEADER funding. The new programmes open soon and we are optimistic that a new Wild Seasons project will get support in 2016, allowing things to take off again.

Funding made available for peatland restoration through SNH has allowed us to contract Emily Taylor to develop and implement restoration plans for a number of sites across Dumfries & Galloway. A parallel project has been run in the Borders by Tweed Forum. We recently learned that additional funds have been released allowing further work to be undertaken so Emily is now busy developing a new round of restoration projects.

Frustrated by your Rural Broadband Service? If you live in one of the following areas, we would love to hear from you!

Ettrick, Yarrow, Upper Teviotdale, Borthwick Water, Bedrule, Minto, Hassendean, Chesters, Tweedsmuir, Moffat Water, Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk,  Midlem, Glen, Orchard Mains, Traquair, Peel, Ashiestiel, Yair, Newcastleton and Eskdalemuir.
We have been commissioned by Community Broadband Scotland to undertake a survey of rural areas in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway who may not be served by the current Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme being delivered through BT.  Our aim is to collate as much data as possible on your current service, location and desire for a better service so this can be used to explore the potential of a community lead initiative to deliver superfast broadband.  We are aware that many of you have already completed a br   oadband survey in your community council area and we will endeavour to include these results where possible. However, it is vital that we get up to date information, so please take a moment to fill out our rural broadband survey at:

Or call Julie 01750 725157 (email We would like to have survey responses by Wednesday 2nd September 2015.

Additional information on the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme can be found at

Efforts are continuing to expand the geographic coverage of the Centre into Ayrshire, with negotiations underway with HLF on a funding bid. In the meantime, Mark has been busy running a number of events over the summer. To keep up with what’s going on at DGERC follow their Facebook page

If you are not paying a membership subscription to the SUP please would you consider starting? We depend on support from our members to cover the cost of undertaking strategic work, developing new projects and demonstrating support for the work we do. The form is available on the website at  Many thanks to all those who are subscribing it really does help.

The next Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering takes place in Melrose on 2nd October. See for more information, programme and booking form. The event is open to the public – tickets are £30 per head ( £20 for Scottish Pilgrim Route Forum members) and the event is themed around the historic and contemporary pilgrimage heritage of the St Cuthbert’s Way, with some real walking!  Vyv Wood-Gee is one of the key speakers.

Recent research carried out with rural communities in Scotland has revealed that there is huge potential benefit in getting those with experience of rural action, supporting others who are just setting out on their regeneration journey.  This has strongly influenced the design of the Big Lottery funded Village SOS campaign in Scotland.

Over 170 people across the UK have now volunteered as a Village SOS Mentor, with 21 of them coming from Scotland. This developing network offers local projects access to an impressive range of skills and experience. These volunteers have been involved in rural community development projects before; including visitor centres, museums, community hubs, churches, heritage and tourism initiatives, and now they are keen to help others do the same.

Village SOS in Scotland is now seeking additional volunteer mentors.  If you have experience of a being involved with a rural community development project of your own and would like to share your story to inspire and guide others then now is the time to get involved. Village SOS is running training for new Mentors in Edinburgh on Thursday 24th September at Norton Park Conference Centre and are currently looking for new recruits.

If you are interested in finding out more about Village SOS please visit the campaign website To learn more about the role of a Village SOS mentor or to book a place at the training please contact Clare Hammond, Village SOS Scotland on 0131 226 4949.

A so-called “community benefit share offer” is being prepared to raise £75,000 to secure Portpatrick Harbour’s future.
Attempts have been made before to bring the harbour into community ownership – latterly through a failed local trust.
Now, in what is seen as a last chance opportunity, the Portpatrick Harbour Community Benefit Society has been formed to buy the site.

The society said the harbour had been allowed to decay and was in urgent need of maintenance and development. It is confident local residents and businesses – and others with links to Portpatrick – will ensure that the share offer is fully subscribed.

A business plan predicts enough profit in four years to repay investors should they want it.
The community share offer will open early in September with the minimum investment £25 – the maximum £20,000. See

What’s On

29th and 30th of August in the dramatic and poignant location of Morton Castle in Dumfries and Galloway. We hope that you will participate in the festival, taking the time to journey through our stunning environment and be inspired by beautiful works of art- both natural and curated! Details about the festival are available on the website, including information about a unique wild camping experience.

Please contact Meredith at if you need any more information.

This 2 year project (a partnership between the NHS and Community Catalysts CIC) has been running since January 2014. It offers support to local people from all over Dumfries and Galloway to set up and run their own local, very small (micro) enterprise or venture offering activities, services or support to older people.


Tuesday 1st September 2015 
9.45am to 12.30pm (refreshments available from 9.30am)
North West Resource Centre, College Drive, Lincluden, Dumfries, DG2 0BX

Wednesday 2nd September 2015 
9.45am to 12.30pm (refreshments available from 9.30am)
Castle Douglas Community Centre, Cotton Street, DG7 1AJ
For info contact:


Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow
Wednesday 2nd September 0830 – 1600

To download the full programme and register for the event, click the following link –

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