Spring has sprung in Edinburgh (amongst other places!)

We’ve been having a busy couple of months with the Edinburgh Midweek Group this season, having completed several projects in and around Edinburgh and the Lothians, as well as a huge display of teamwork and hard work at the Seven Lochs project in Glasgow where we worked alongside the Stirling and Glasgow volunteers for eight weeks!

Team Edinburgh!

Volunteers from Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow Mid Week Groups.

Back in February the group started helping out at the beautiful Howden Walled Garden in Livingston. Here our aim was to create an edible walkway around the garden’s walls for the community to enjoy. The first task was to clear the walls and the ground to make room for some fruit trees and bushes – no easy feat! Fortunately someone had kindly left a supermarket trolley in the grounds to help us with the moving!

The volunteers were also kept busy repairing a beautiful walkway made of willow, for the local community to enjoy.

A few weeks later we returned to the garden to plant the fruit bushes; raspberries, gooseberries, cherries and strawberries, among a few others. What a difference!

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At the end of February we started work at the Seven Lochs Wetland Park in Glasgow; an urban nature project focused on protecting and enhancing the biodiversity and heritage of the wetland area, as well as providing a space for locals and visitors to enjoy (GCV Green Network Partnership).
Alongside the Stirling and Glasgow teams, our volunteers worked hard over the course of almost two months! We undertook a variety of tasks; preparing the land for wildflower planting, digging ponds and creating water channels, as well as some general woodland management work.

We also worked hard to improve the boardwalk at Hogganfield Park, placing non-slip grip strips (try saying that quickly three times!) along each plank of wood to make it safer for visitors to enjoy the beautiful views over the loch.

Our favourite project (or mine at least!) was helping to create floating bio-havens to sit on top of the loch. These bio-havens were made of recycled materials and adorned with various wetland plants (gathered by our volunteers). They will be providing a key shelter for birds and pond life on the loch.

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Across April and May we’ve been doing various bits and pieces of work at the Peebles Community Action Network (CAN) Garden. Our first big job was to help lay the wooden foundations of the new flower beds and path within their brand new poly tunnel.

The next time we visited we spent an amazingly sunny (and very warm!) couple of days building an incredible 16 new raised beds for the garden. It was a brilliant team effort and we had some fantastic help from the local families who would be using the beds, giving them the opportunity to see how they were built and to be part of the building process. Even the little ones were keen to help!

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Although we’ve been busy doing work elsewhere, we certainly haven’t forgotten about our local Edinburgh parks!
In the lovely Figgate Park near Portobello our volunteers helped with some path clearance, working to make the stairs safer and more accessible. We were also helping to stabilise the river bank by panting native shrubs and trees, which will also help to increase biodiversity and create wildlife habitats.

We’ve also been busy in Starbank Park this year, working closely with their ‘Friends Of’ group. Some of the tasks we’ve been involved in were neatening their path edges, trimming bed borders, clearing away vegetation in preparation for summer growth, lots and lots of weeding and, of course, the most coveted job; helping to turn and cycle their compost area.

Last but not least, we were in the beautiful Braidburn Valley Park doing path edging. What a difference we made!

It’s been a wonderful and jam-packed few months and we’re all looking forward to spending some more time in the sun (and the rain) over summer!

Kathryn (Volunteer Officer)

Become a Flood Warden Volunteer!

Do you want to learn more about your local area and help reduce flood risk?

Become a Flood Warden Volunteer!

We will provide all FREE training, support and guidance for the project to:

  • Monitor, record and clear debris from burns
  • Identify and record invasive non-native plant species

*No previous knowledge of the subject required*

Express an interest or find out more contact Amanda Malcolm, a.malcolm@tcv.org.uk or Mobile 07917 460488

Update: The Dead Good Deadwood Survey

A new Citizen Science survey is in its last stages of development before being release to the world (hopefully!) It is of course, The Dead Good Deadwood Survey. The aim of the survey is to increase knowledge and understanding of the importance of deadwood to enable community woodland groups to make sustainable decisions for their woodland management. The survey not only focuses on deadwood but also allows participants to record its associated wildlife. Whether you are part of a community woodland group looking to improve your woodland, or simply a nature enthusiast wanting to get outside, this survey is a simple and fun way to learn about your environment and how to improve it for nature and for you.

The Forestry Commission suggests that healthy woodland (broadleaf or conifer) should have three standing and three fallen pieces of large (over 20cm in diameter and over 2m long) deadwood per hectare. The survey requires participants to walk a 100m section of woodland, noting down how many pieces of large deadwood they spot on the way.

The survey also asks you to stop at each piece of deadwood and look for living things on it, such as bugs and plants. It asks you feel the texture of the wood and to estimate the stage of decay the wood is at based on the structure of the wood and the creatures you find on it.

Gathering this information means you can work out if there is a healthy amount of deadwood but also a healthy variety of stages of decay present. It’s also suggests ways in which you can improve deadwood habitats in your woodland and the survey can be repeated after these improvements to see if the biodiversity on your site has increased. The survey is perfect for someone who wants to monitor the health of a particular site, or for people who simply want to get out and explore the woods, collecting research on the way.

So far the survey has been trialed with a number of community groups and has proven to be very popular.

The first of these groups was Shadoxhurst Baden Powel Scout group, a group of twelve scouts and their leaders who had come to join TCV for an event as part of National Tree Week. The scouts were already an outdoorsy bunch, but they admitted that they didn’t know just how valuable deadwood could be. One young man commented ‘well I guess there is more to deadwood than just setting it on fire’! It was lovely to see a group of young people become captivated by the subject of rotting wood and their highlight of the day was finding a leopard slug!

The survey was then trailed with a gardening group called Space to Grow, based in Maryhill in Glasgow. Space to Grow are used to trying out Citizen Science surveys with TCV and were happy to give us their thoughts on deadwood.

Do keep an eye on TCV’s website, social media, and blog pages to hear more about the dead good deadwood survey. While you’re waiting, there is some brilliant information and resources out there all about deadwood to inspire you:

http://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/dead-wood/  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/FCPG020.pdf/$FILE/FCPG020.pdf

Become a River Monitoring Volunteer!

Want to learn more about your local area and help monitor burns to reduce flood risk?

We’ve launched an exciting new project with Clackmannanshire Council to get local communities involved in recording information about flooding in some of the Hillfoot Burns.

Aim: The Environmental Monitoring volunteers will chose and monitor their identified site(s) throughout the year on a regular basis and from the same vantage point– via taking a photograph and making a written description of what they see on the day. Monitoring sites include:

  1. Tillicoultry Burn confluence to River Devon
  2. Alva Burn at A91 Road Bridge
  3. Dollar Burn water race & beneath Mixed Leisure Route Bridge to the south

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Alva 1 Dollar 1 Tilly 1

*No previous knowledge of the subject required. We will provide all training, support and guidance for the project*.

Express an interest or to find out more contact Amanda Malcolm, Email a.malcolm@tcv.org.uk or Mobile 07917 460488

Muiravonside Country Park

Muiravonside Country Park is a lovely site for walking your dog however, with 170 acres of woodland to manage, the work of the volunteers spanned over the Autumn and Winter.

Although slightly soggy the volunteers were in good spirits as they looked over all the different sites in the park that were now free of any trace of rhododendron and laurel thanks to their hard work. This is the eventual aim of the invasive species management plan for the country park and the level of this work needed will slowly decrease over the coming years if all goes well!

These non-native invasive plants were removed by being pulled out and burned on a fire. In combination with the physical removal of these plants there were some spots that were sprayed as they were on steep slopes that were too difficult to get to. These spots were sprayed with herbicide to make sure no rhododendron or laurel was left to spread seeds. The spray had a blue dye to show the areas that had been sprayed, so if you see a blue sprayed plant don’t touch it or let your dog near it as it could get an upset tummy.

It was a satisfying job to see the landscape without the waxy leaves blanketing the place but over the weeks we also got to have fun with our fellow volunteers and gained a few new ones in the time we were there, all were very welcome and we had a lot of fun creating bonfires for the burning of the Rhododendrons every week!

#JoinInFeelGood