My name is Nicola Brand and for the last few months I’ve been enjoying a student placement with Community Greenspace at Strathearn.
When Greenspace Ranger Richard Armstrong accepted me for a student placement relating to my Environmental Science Degree, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d researched the role of a Community Greenspace Ranger online, but it wasn’t until I’d met Richard and shadowed him in his place of work that I then fully appreciated all the effort and enthusiasm he puts into looking after and improving local public spaces and the surrounding countryside.
Richard and a number of volunteers meet on a weekly basis to enhance the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Strathearn area and can often be seen in MacRosty Park carrying out back-breaking work such as weeding, planting, dredging the nearby Lade, or even making bird boxes and bug hotels with only a cuppa and a biscuit for a reward! They all do their best to attend every week throughout the year and I know that a lot of thought goes into the different tasks required depending on the season.
I’ve also discovered that a Greenspace Ranger has to liaise with various types of organisations both in and outwith the council. Environmental issues often require getting in touch with statutory bodies such as SNH, SEPA and the Scottish Wildlife Trust in order to seek the best approach towards sensitive issues such as protected wildlife, dangerous trees and infrastructure, or flood-prone waterways.
Each of the Greenspace Rangers cover a large area of Perth and Kinross and are often behind various projects being introduced to schools and the local community, which have been created to spark an interest in the environment, and to inform people about the abundance of scenic walks available on their doorstep. They also do an excellent job of dealing with situations such as handling enquiries from members of the public regarding environmental issues and mediating with local landowners regarding concerns, such as the introduction of core path networks.
I’ve learned a huge amount from Richard during my time on placement and greatly admire the dedication he puts into his job. He even finds time to create new flyers and posters, placing them in local areas to drum up more volunteers and hopefully help to create a new generation with an innate interest in preserving and looking after the fragile natural environment.