SUP Newsletter – Winter 2010/11

Life here at SUP has been hectic these past months and looks set to remain so for the foreseeable future.

We recently completed the LEADER-funded Scottish Borders Walking Festival 2009 -2010 and we continue to manage and deliver other projects including the Upland Habitat and Black Grouse Restoration, Red Squirrels in South Scotland and the Nith Estuary Nature Based Tourism and we are increasingly involved in developing new initiatives.

Upland Habitat and Black Grouse Restoration

Chris Land has now visited more than 60 farms giving advice and encouraging applications to the Scottish Rural Development Programme. Upland habitat has been enhanced by improving heather management, improving pest control and marking fences which otherwise pose a danger to low-flying black grouse. He is currently planning the spring lek surveys which will start shortly. The plan this year is to revisit all the leks surveyed last year and to visit more “historic” sites in the hope that some new sites will be found.

Chris is keen to hear from volunteers who would be willing to help carry out survey work. If you are willing to be up and on-site before dawn – give Chris a call on 01750 725157 or email

Red Squirrels in South Scotland

By necessity the focus of the RSSS project remains on grey squirrel control. The project now has three full time grey squirrel control officers (GSCO’s) working across south Scotland as well as a seasonal GSCO for the Glenkens area. A further three GSCO’s are employed by Forestry Commission Scotland to work on the national estate in the south. Sixty landowners in south Scotland are now undertaking grey squirrel control funded by the Scottish Rural Development Programme covering an area of 159, 516 hectares with many more people helping to control grey squirrels through our trap loan programme.

During the past eight months pox carrying grey squirrels have unfortunately been found at Kippford near Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway and at Cornhill-Upon-Tweed in England, less than one mile from the Scottish border. This represents a large leap, to both the east and the west, in the previous known distribution of pox carrying grey squirrels. Local responses have been swift with a Forestry Commission GSCO clearing the woods at Kippford and Dalbeattie of any rogue greys and the Berwick SoS Red Squirrel Volunteer Group controlling greys and supporting the control efforts of local landowners near Coldstream in The Borders. To date, the disease has not spread to red squirrels in these locations.

On a positive note, we are tentatively announcing that the Squirrelpox disease outbreak at the Buccleuch Queensberry Estate near Thornhill appears to have burnt out follow the loss of an estimate 300 red squirrels from the population. This burnout is thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Buccleuch staff that have been controlling grey squirrels and monitoring the reds with no new cases of pox in red squirrels being detected since July 2009. There have been no other incidences of red squirrels having contracted the disease throughout south Scotland since 2008. Further positive news is coming from Peebles where red squirrels now appear to have taken up residence and red squirrel sightings records indicate that in and around Hawick, Kelso and Selkirk, grey squirrel control efforts are resulting in an increase in the number and distribution of red squirrels!

Remember you are our eyes and ears out there so please report all red and grey squirrel sightings by completing our online sightings form at or emailing or phoning 01750 23446 / 01556 610051. If you have grey squirrels in your area and are able to help control them please get in touch.

Nith Estuary Nature Based Tourism

Work is now being focussed by the local ‘Industry Working Group’ and is concentrating on the development of promotional material, a ‘guiding’ service for visitors and on making sure that tourism service and facility providers in the area are well informed about the strength of the natural heritage.

The visitor monitoring programme developed by the Scottish Agricultural College, that is specific to finding out about the ‘natural experience’ of visitors, has now begun. As the process did not start until late autumn, meaningful results will not be available until June / July of this year. Watch this space…..

Links have been made with an emerging initiative on the Isle of Lewis and the planned Finnish exchange continues to be developed.

We are continuing to work to develop nature based tourism across the wider southern uplands, including the concept of ‘Wild Solway’ as mentioned in our previous newsletter. We are working alongside a number of rangers and wardens, as well as tourism industry representatives to develop a ‘Wild Autumn’ project and to create a nature based tourism web-site for the wider region.

Further information from Project Officer John Sellers on 01671 401003

Farm Tourism

SUP was asked to assist Scottish Natural Heritage in looking at the potential to develop farm / agri tourism in southern Scotland.

We assisted in organising an initial group session that included various strategic agents as well as representatives from the farming community. This lead to the development of a brief for a piece of consultancy work that is presently being delivered.

SUP now sits on the Working Group that is overseeing this work and is a member of the wider Steering Group that will use the results to fashion an approach to what promises to be a major initiative.

Allied to this SUP is working with Dumfries and Galloway Council in the development of a D&G ‘cluster’ of farm businesses interested in working collaboratively to better develop and promote their individual businesses and to support new entrants.

An initial meeting in Castle Douglas in early January was well attended and has provided the catalyst for further works.

UNESCO Biosphere

SUP has been promoting the idea of the Biosphere for many years and over the last six months has been heavily involved in the process of applying to UNESCO for redesignation of the existing Merrick Kells / Silver Flowe and Cairnsmore of Fleet Biospheres as the first ‘new style’ Biosphere in Scotland. This would provide the area with a major opportunity to strengthen and better integrate economic, social, cultural and environmental development.

Thanks to funding from LEADER in both Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway, we recently advertised for two ‘Biosphere Development Officers’ who will be employed for two years each. One will be based in Galloway and the other in Ayrshire. The “Building Opportunity in the Biosphere” project will work with local communities, businesses and partner agencies to promote and develop the Biosphere model of sustainable development within the proposed Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

More information can be found at: and

Revitalising the Yarrow and Ettrick Valleys

We have secured funds to employ a worker to identify and raise awareness of opportunities in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys both now and in the future. They will undertake widespread community consultation to identify assets, skills, demands and wishes of the residents in both valleys and, in consultation, draw up an action plan for continued sustainable living and working in both valleys. This may include identifying under-used assets, ways to upgrade local infrastructure, new business opportunities and innovative ways to boost the number of families of working age living in the valleys, which may include creating a scheme to promote and advertise opportunities for new families to move into the area.

Links will be made to other schemes and support structures (local and national) as appropriate.

In addition to producing a plan, it is intended that some direct action is implemented to address some of the issues identified and a small project fund is available to facilitate this. Management of the small project fund would also be part of the remit of the project officer

The closing date for applications is March 1st and more information can be found at:

Lochar Mosses
Work to identify the potential costs and benefits of large scale restoration of the Lochar Mosses has been ongoing. Supported by SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland, we have commissioned a socio-economic review which will be completed shortly. While the benefits are clear in relation to habitat improvement, conservation and carbon sequestration, there may be down sides relating to surrounding land use. A detailed hydrological study may be the next step if the proposal is considered feasible on economic and social grounds.

Proposed Machars Heritage Lottery Fund bid
SUP attended a meeting on 8th February that took the first, tentative steps to exploring the possibility of developing a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund that would unite a number of existing projects and initiatives and bring significant new funds to the area.

The event was well attended and numbered many ‘strategic’ organisations as well as community groups in its audience.

Debate was wide ranging and well informed and, whilst being aware of the current financial constraints on many potential partners, concluded that the opportunity should be pursued with enthusiasm.

The event was hosted by the Whithorn Trust and was supported by Solway Heritage.

Other News and Information

Securing the Benefits of Scotland’s Next Energy Revolution
SUP recently submitted a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on how wider benefit from investment in wind power might be secured. The closing date for the consultation is 25th February. See:

Scottish Marine Regions
Marine Regions are being developed across the UK. SUP recently attended a consultation event organised by the Solway Firth Partnership, which brought together interested parties to respond to the Scottish Government’s response to this. Results of the event can be viewed at:

The close of the consultation was on 18th February but there appears to be a genuine interest in an on-going dialogue so responses and continued input would seem to be welcomed; see:

Solway Firth Partnership’s web-site is always a mine of useful information; see:

Skills Development Scotland Training Grants
As you know, staff training provides an excellent boost to the productivity of our businesses. However, it’s not always affordable to all of our members. Luckily, there’s help available – the Flexible Training Opportunities scheme from Skills Development Scotland, supported by the European Social Fund.

Flexible Training Opportunities will fund up to £5,000 in training costs. Whether your members are sole traders or have less than 150 employees, the scheme will refund 50% of the cost of up to 10 training courses, at a maximum of £500 each.

For example, if the training costs £1200, £500 will be refunded. If it costs £300, £150 will be refunded. Effectively, it could double your members’ training investment. Best of all, the money is a grant, not a loan – so they don’t have to repay it.

The closing date for submission is 31st March 2011, although the training can take place up-to the 30 June 2011– and funding is limited, so members must apply as soon as possible.

To find out more, please contact Amanda Hannah at Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce on 01387 270866 or email

Destination Dumfries & Galloway
‘DD&G’ is an increasing force within the development of tourism in Dumfries and Galloway. Two Project Officers are now in post and its latest board of directors, headed by Wilma Finlay of Cream O’Galloway, is beginning to get the ‘bit between its teeth’.

A ‘rolling series’ of conferences entitled ‘D&G TOURISM INDUSTRY CONFERENCE: Your chance to have your say’ recently toured the region. A very positive message was promoted and was well received and widely supported by the tourism businesses of the region.

More information can be found at the following website, itself set for major changes:

Borders Environmental Education Services (BEES) is a social enterprise that has outdoor and natural learning at the heart of what it’s about.

BEES has been set up by experienced Primary School teacher and Forest School practioner Pete Carthy.

Pete says “I just love teaching outdoors and giving children and adults the opportunity to experience the wonder of nature and learn through it”.

BEES run’s a wide range of learning experiences for children and adults alike, such as Bush craft, Forest Schools, Eco-holidays, outdoor play, CPD for teachers, John Muir Award etc.

BEES works with a wide variety of clients including community groups, schools, churches and businesses across the region. BEES is looking to form partnerships in 2011 to develop a range of exciting projects.

For more information visit or contact Pete on 01835 869869

Andy Goldsworthy Inspired Natural Art Fire and Steel

Andy Goldsworthy Inspired Natural Art
Fire and Steel

Battle of Flodden Commemorations

Plans are well underway to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden in 2013. England’s first ‘eco-museum’ is amongst the projects currently being developed. The eco-museum is a dynamic way to manage, interpret and conserve community heritage in a sustainable way, ‘a museum without walls’. The first phase will link 12 sites of significance to the Battle of Flodden across the Borders and into Scotland.

The second phase of the project focuses on developing projects and ideas at a community level so we are looking for community support to help to facilitate this. We are encouraging support from individuals, groups and businesses who would like to become involved and find out more about ideas proposed to date. Further information on projects to date please can be found at:

Please contact us at if you’re interested in finding out more.

SRPBA Rural Enterprise Demonstration Day

SRPBA Rural Enterprise Demonstration Day2nd March 2011, Raehills, Annandale Estates, St Ann’s, Lockerbie

Are you in the picture or do you want to be? If so, then this is your opportunity to learn more about what is involved in working with Film, TV and Advertising organisations and how to generate alternative sources of income from your “picture perfect” assets.

The SRPBA, South West Scotland Screen Commission, Tods Murray LLP, Creative Scotland and Annandale Estates have teamed together to produce what will be a stimulating and informative Demo day.

In the morning session at Raehills you will learn from the experience of location providers working with film and television companies, hear from Scotland’s senior professional advisers and from the UK’s top location managers.  We are also privileged to have film producer Clare Kerr along to speak about her experiences. Click here to read more.

For your diary

Scottish Enterprise – Listening To Our Visitors Workshop
Don’t miss a great opportunity for tourism businesses to take advantage of a practical workshop and guide to help more effectively gather and utilise customer feedback!

What the Workshop Offers
It looks at ways in which gathering and effectively utilising feedback can help your business and the area you are based understand your customers –

  • What do you actually know about your visitors?
  • Who they are?
  • Why have they come and what do they want out of their trip?
  • What simple things can you and other experiences in your area do to make sure they spend more, stay longer and come back for more?
  • What information should you consider collecting in the future and why?

Awareness of this information will enable you to build up a picture which in turn can help you to identify practical ways to adapt your products and services to meet your customers increasing expectations!

All participants receive a copy of the comprehensive participant guide designed for this workshop.

Thursday 24th March 2011 – Aston Hotel, Dumfries
Tuesday 29th March 2011 – Creebridge House Hotel, Newton Stewart

Duration 10am to 13.00pm followed by an informal networking lunch

Cost Workshop fee is £25 + VAT per delegate

For further information contact

Partnership Opportunities at the Tourism Industry Conference: Getting Fit for Business & Working Together

Representing, promoting and developing D&G Tourism: a practical, informative, conversational conference for the tourism industry.

Destination Dumfries & Galloway invites partners to get involved at the forthcoming Dumfries and Galloway Tourism Industry Conference, hosted by DD&G in partnership with Easterbrook Hall.

Key Objectives

  • For DD&G and partners to engage with tourism businesses and to understand the challenges and opportunities facing tourism businesses in Dumfries & Galloway.
  • To encourage collaboration and networking in the tourism industry and provide opportunities for businesses to participate in collaborative groups (new and existing).
  • As launch pad for the Regional Tourism Strategy and partnership approach to development providing information and paths to getting involved.

Monday 7th March 2011
10.30am – 16.00pm Easterbrook Hall, Bankend Road, Dumfries
For further details please contact

The New Borders Tourism Fair 
is your chance to meet and mingle with businesses in the Borders.

The Fair is an ideas forum for swapping leaflets, exchanging business cards, creating reciprocal links or simply chatting. Its FREE if you just come along. If you’d like to create a display table cost—£20, cheaper if you share. It’s a must not miss opportunity to distribute your materials, talk to others, share your products, services and gain new markets. Go on, put it in your diary, pop in any time between: 10:30am —2:30pm March 1st, Springwood Hall, Borders Union Show Ground, Kelso
To book a table or ask any questions call Laura Sykes on 01750 23814
or email


It is also the time of year when we look at the funding situation for the year ahead and it will not surprise you to hear that budgets are tighter than ever.

Scottish Natural Heritage is continuing to support us and we are very grateful for this. Scottish Borders Council has also managed to protect their contribution and again we are most grateful. The remainder of our funding comes from the projects we deliver and from membership subscriptions and donations. Last year this did not cover the shortfall and we had to draw on our reserve. This year will be the same.

If you are able to make a donation or pay a subscription it would be much appreciated. There is a form you can use on the website or simply send a cheque made out to the Southern Uplands Partnership and send it to us at Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels TD1 3PE.

Thank you.

Dr Joan Mitchell
Partnership Convenor.

A Greener Melrose
Training for Transition

Adapting to Peak Oil and Climate Change

This is a unique opportunity to be part of the Transition Network’s exciting and inspiring training. It will give you:

  • a clearer understanding of what Transition is
  • experiential workshops to help you engage more deeply with your community
  • all the materials you will need
  • practical ideas on how to take action towards a lower carbon lifestyle

The training will be held in the George & Abbotsford Hotel in Melrose.

Dates – Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March 2011

Cost – £100 if funded by your organisation; if self funded £40 waged or £20 unwaged.
This covers lunch both days, tea/coffee, biscuits and all training materials.

Who – This is for you, if you want to take green issues forward in your community.

Trainers – Naresh Giangrande and May East from the Transition Network. For more information check out

To book –   Places are limited, so book early using the attached form, or download at

For further information you can contact us at

Working to improve water quality in the Galloway Coastal and Stewartry Coastal catchments

SEPA’s Catchment Co-ordinator Jackie McColm explains how SEPA is working with the agricultural community to improve water quality in south-west Scotland

Land use within the Galloway Coastal and Stewartry Coastal catchments falls into two major types; agriculture and forestry. Agricultural land use in these catchments ranges from hill farming, beef and dairy units to arable. There are also seven designated bathing waters within the two catchments.

Over recent months SEPA staff have been surveying the Galloway and Stewartry coastal catchments as part of the Diffuse Pollution Priority Catchment programme. They have walked 725km along rivers and burns, identifying land use, assessing compliance with the Diffuse Pollution General Binding Rules (DP GBRs) and identifying where land management practices are impacting on water quality.

Often driven by rainfall and land use activity, diffuse pollution occurs when sediment, nutrients, bacteria and chemicals are transferred from the land to local burns, rivers, lochs and groundwater. Individually this type of pollution can be minor, but collectively it can be significant, impacting on ecology and protected areas such as bathing waters, shellfish waters, drinking water protected areas and Nitrate Vulnerable Zones.

Initial findings show the most common breach of the rules is related to livestock causing either significant erosion or poaching of land within five metres of surface waters (DP GBR 19). Another breach is land that has been cultivated within two metres of surface waters (DP GBR 20), both on agricultural and forestry land. Other problems observed during the walks include pollution from silage effluent, farm tips still in use, silage bales stored too close to watercourses, unauthorised engineering works, and increased siltation from ditching works. Good practice, such as buffer strips and water troughs, has also been recorded.

Once all the data have been collated, the findings will be reported back to land managers via awareness raising events, including workshops. Many of the issues observed during the walks can be solved by changes in management practice, with little or no cost to the land manager. In some areas, funding from the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) may also be available.

Carolyn Dunlop, of the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) said: “SEPA and NFU Scotland are working together to ensure that clear and concise guidance is available to land managers in the Galloway and Stewartry priority catchments in order for them to tackle the issues that have been identified by the catchment walks. Many of the measures that can be adopted to minimise diffuse water pollution can help drive input efficiency and improve business performance. Land managers recognise their responsibility and will deliver where achievable.”

For further information on the Galloway and Stewartry catchment work, please email:

For further information on priority catchments visit

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