SUP Newsletter Summer 2016

The AGM will be held at the Yarrow feus Community Hall on the 5th July. Please note the change of venue because there has been a delay in completion of the Gordon Arms Hotel. The Hall is just a mile from the Gordon Arms towards Selkirk.

We will be joined this year by Sally Thomas of the Scottish Government. Sally has been instrumental in the Scottish Land Use Strategy and has a long standing interest in Biosphere Reserves so we are really pleased that she has agreed to talk a little about where the LUS has got to and how it might develop next.

The AGM starts at 2pm on the 5th July. Places are limited so please book your seat by emailing
Papers for the AGM are available on the publications page.

Scottish Environment LINK have launched LINKLocal, a new project aiming to bring together local groups across Scotland with an interest in environment. LINKLocal hopes to facilitate increased communication between local groups so that they can share experience, knowledge and tips, or work together on larger projects. We are seeking to raise awareness about LINKLocal and would be very grateful if you could include a few lines about it in your next newsletter. Below we have provided a short paragraph summarising the aim of the project.

“Scottish Environment LINK have launched LINKLocal, a new project aimed at local groups. LINKLocal offers any local group or organisation with an interest in the environment, the natural world or sustainability, a free listing on their website. Groups listed on the LINKLocal website are then searchable by area and interest so that local groups can find others working on similar issues and share ideas, knowledge and experience. For more information please visit



The Wild Film Festival will run over the weekend of 24th – 26th March 2017. Our idea is based on the successful Mountain Film Festival model but rather than mountains we will be having a weekend devoted to celebrating the natural world captured through film, photography and speakers. We plan to be showcasing the best of wildlife and landscape filming from international, national and local film makers. The screenings will be complemented by guest speakers who will be well known in their field this will include popular television presenters who will be familiar to the general public (Iolo Williams – Spring Watch presenter has already confirmed). In addition there will be a national photographic exhibition (the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition) and workshops on film making and photography.

Our idea has attracted support from a number of quarters including D&G Council and the Holywood Trust. We await news from LEADER, but are hopeful that they will agree the final part of the funding package later this month.


There was an excellent range of events on offer for the Wild Spring Festival which during March and April. There was a reduced Borders Nature Festival this year as a result of cuts in Council budgets and the delay in LEADER funding. We still hope to see the Wild Seasons project re-invigorated later this year.

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere

Recent highlights include the publication of a management plan for priority species and habitats in the biosphere which we are now starting to use to engage with landowners.

A short film has been produced to show how local business supporters of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Charter can benefit from the UNESCO designation. Businesses where invited along to an evening Dark Skies star gazing experience at Kirroughtree in the Galloway Forest Park and there was an opportunity for businesses to make connections and share how their business is supporting the sustainable principles of the Biosphere.

The evening was dedicated to discovering what makes Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere special and having conversations about the best places to go for tranquillity, recreation and enjoyment, culture and heritage, wildlife and natural beauty, local produce and last but not least where to go to be inspired! A second event will be taking place over the summer aimed at businesses in the northern part of the Biosphere.

There is a revamped website, interpretation and a new initiative that is using the “Sense of Place” process to help communities develop pride in their biosphere.  Members of the team visited the Dyfi Biosphere in Wales to attend an event focused on a Citizen Science surveying “App” that we are hoping to trial locally.  Staff also joined a group that visited Urdaibai Biosphere in Spain looking at potential partnership opportunities.  Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod MSP, launched the new Climate Ready Biosphere vision and action plan and spoke very positively about the value of the biosphere and her support for it.

After the flood events experienced during the winter of 2015/16, management of the uplands to store more water and reduce peak flooding occurrences has once again been in the headlines. Emily Taylor, was our Peatland Action Officer, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, but that scheme has now ended. Emily is continuing to identify and co-ordinate peatland restoration work in the uplands of the Biosphere.  A key aspect of this work is the rewetting of upland areas that have been drained during the last 50 or so years, allowing the land to once again act as a sponge contributing to a reduction in the height and frequency of peak river levels.  Peatland Action Funds were allocated to 24 projects which will restore 680 hectares of peatland. Advice has been given on management of a further 2820has and we will continue to seek SRDP funds for further work to be undertaken.

Also linked to upland management we have been meeting with stakeholders around the Talla Hart fell area interested in exploring how the new wild land designation might benefit Southern Scotland. Wild land is loosely defined as semi natural land that shows minimal signs of human influence.
It seems there may be scope for a habitat and nature based tourism / local regeneration project to be developed.  We now need to follow-up with the stakeholders who were unable to attend the meeting.

We are also looking at ways of funding works that will continue to deliver the Black Grouse work we have been supporting for a number of years and will take forward the new strategy being produced by our partners.

The Centre has continued to deliver its agreed actions while at the same time, we have been putting significant efforts have into plans to extend its remit into Ayrshire.  A Heritage Lottery Fund application has been successful and we have now also been awarded LEADER funds. This exciting new project will see us recruiting a project officer for two years to work with communities and partners in Ayrshire to raise awareness of the regions natural heritage and the value of using biological data to help protect it. We hope that by demonstrating the value of such data it may be the first step towards providing a permanent service to communities and businesses of Ayrshire.

During the last 18 months we have been working with Community Broadband Scotland and a number of local communities to survey households in a wide area centred on Ettrick that is unlikely to be part of the British Telecom roll out of high speed broadband.  The task has been to scope out the case for, and the scale of, a community broadband project. 700 responses were received. We are now seeking funds for the next stage of the project which will generate a tender document and a business case.
We are keen to share our experience and we would be interested in working with other local communities across Southern Scotland who suspect they may not be part of the national scheme.

Working with the local Community Development Company, we have been awarded funds through Local Energy Scotland for a pilot “energy-potential mapping” project for the Ettrick and Yarrow area.  This will produce a supplementary layer for the Borders Land Use Strategy pilot showing renewable energy opportunities in the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys.  The work is well underway and is being steered by a group with representation of the local Community Council and the Community Development Company as well as LES and CES.

The EuroRural Tourism project is a partnership of seven countries (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Scotland) who are working together to explore different approaches to the packaging of authentic rural experiences and accommodation to visitors.  The project is now taking shape and has brought together local tourism businesses and accommodation providers in the south of Scotland to work together to develop a Scottish rural culture experience that can be shared with partners from across Europe. The project has been awarded 75% funding from the EU and runs till March 2017.

Over the last few years SUP has been working closely with the Scottish Rural Parliament, facilitating workshops to find out more about the challenges that we all face living and working in Southern Scotland. The results of these workshops have been fed into the national rural parliament session that takes place once every two years.

SUP is providing staff time to the Resilient Communities project being led by Dundee University which started in April 2015.  The project is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. We have assisted with a series of very positive community workshops in both Hawick and Newcastleton.

SUP has been asked by Scottish Power Energy Network (SPEN) to help put a bid together for funding that might pay for the development of an enhancement strategy and project plan for the Eildon Leaderfoot National Scenic Area (NSA). The NSA is little-known and yet the newly reopened railway allows visitors to arrive at the NSA boundary and potentially walk or cycle through it. Progress has been slow – but we still hope something will come of the efforts.

Social isolation, loneliness and older people in Scotland:
Exploring a way forward through research and practice

Thursday 9th June 2016 14:00 – 17:00
University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus – Room M16,
Maxwell House, Crichton Campus, Dumfries, DG1 4ZZ

Join us on Thursday 9th June for an engaging, interactive and thought provoking seminar presented by The Open University in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland at the Crichton Campus, Dumfries.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are becoming increasingly common problems amongst older people in Scotland. This highly engaging seminar will explore this topic through recent research findings from The Open University and the University of the West of Scotland.

Places are limited, and this event is likely to be very popular. You’re encouraged to confirm your place without delay.

Get your FREE ticket and more information here:

Read some more of our articles

More News