On the 16th of October I was up St Mags with Joanna helping out a group called the six circle clearing back goarse and broom.
This is a really important job as the broom and gorse are taking over the hill and stopping other plants and trees from growing.
It is also really important as they can block some of the amazing views you can get on the summit.
The group worked really hard and managed to clear a lot, revealing that view of the Tay and the bridge.
I tried my first Cadbury Boost that day and I think its safe to say I found my new favourite chocolate.
On the 25th of October I went out to Pitlochry to help Jeannie out with the Pitlochry Path group. The day got off to a good start as I arrived in Pitlochry and I noticed that the group were very hard workers. The task the group were doing was repairing a path just past the train station.
On the train ride home I was treated to some beautiful views with all the trees turning into really nice reds and oranges and a few mesmerizing streams. When I got back to Perth I went to a Modern Apprentice meeting about how to behave on social media.
Blairgowrie and Rattray Access Network (BRAN) continue to work in partnership to maintain and enhance the path network surrounding Blairgowrie and East Perthshire. Its been a busy summer for BRAN with tasks such as grass cutting, strimming and cutting back which all helps to keep the path network open and accessible.
BRAN members recently met on 16th November to litter pick at the Riverside between Keithbank Mill and Brooklin Mill. Many more projects are planned over the winter months including the creation of a viewpoint and path improvements at the top of the Knockie path.
BRAN are always looking for new members and should you wish to come along please contact Ian Richards secretary- firstname.lastname@example.org
The Crieff High School group have been out again carrying carrying out practical management of the heathland by removing scrub and saplings from it.
During the session we talked about why Heathland is an important habitat within Scotland in terms of carbon storage and supporting a wide range of species, to find out more information please follow the link: http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-1432.
The group were using tree poppers to remove scrub from the heathland. The tree poppers remove the tree or shrub by the roots meaning it is significantly less likely to regenerate and removes the need to return to areas and continually cut.
The other benefit of this method is it disrupts the soil and allows new communities of plants to be introduced.
The group talked about the activities they enjoyed from last year and what they didn’t enjoy and this will be incorporated in to John Muir Award.
Have you put your Christmas tree up yet? Trees make a huge contribution to our environment, our health and our economy as well as a centrepiece of Christmas. Forestry Commission Scotland has created a short video entitled ‘There’s more to Scotland’s forests than meets the eye’ that is well worth a watch. So sit back, relax and enjoy this video with a mince pie.
If, over the festive period you would like a break from Christmas T.V, Scotland’s Native Woodlands is an excellent short film presented by naturalist Nick Baker.
And these are informative too:
Native pinewoods – http://youtu.be/I6AaNp-5VN0
Upland birchwoods – http://youtu.be/jGzkh6X9ENk
Upland oakwoods – http://youtu.be/WV2LjVxObzM
Lowland mixed deciduous woodland – http://youtu.be/zNauIovTjCw
On 22nd November we went out to meet the Portmoak Path Group, bringing along our “flail” – essentially a large grass cutter capable of cutting long and thick undergrowth. We were cutting the vegetation and grass along a 600m length of core path between Kinnesswood and Portmoak Moss, before it gets too overgrown. Despite a bit of rain, the flail made short work of the cutting while some volunteers used machetes to remove some bracken on the path edge.
Andrew from the group tackling the path edge
Reminding ourselves which button does what…
The freshly cut path – ready to be walked!
Calum taking the flail for a spin
The Portmoak Paths Group meets almost every week to maintain a variety of paths in the Kinnesswood/Baldegie area. If you would like to be involved, or to be put in contact with the group please contact Ranger Calum at email@example.com
What is coppicing you ask? Coppicing is a woodland management technique that involves repeatedly felling trees at the base ,then allowing them to regrow, then providing suitable timber. This technique reigns supreme over replanting as the trees roots have already developed so this means the branches growth would be much quicker and less chance of browsing and shading.
But what can coppicing do for the environment? As trees already shed their branches to extend their lifespan this good be a great way to simulate this to the life of the tree. It also increases woodland biodiversity as more light will be able to reach the ground allowing other species to grow. These species will usually be food for butterflies and other insects which means that they can be eaten by birds and bats etc. It can actually provide habitat as well, is there anything it can’t do…
Its that time of the year again with Christmas just around the corner decorations should be appearing around the street. Another thing that will be appearing in living room windows will be the all important Christmas tree, covered top to bottom in lights, baubles and tinsel.
Its almost strange to think that the idea of a Christmas tree was actually around before the advents of Christianity, as the ancient Egyptians used to celebrate the winter solstice by bringing green palm rushes into their homes which symbolizes the triumph of life over death. Skip forward to the 16th century in Germany when the first use of the Christmas tree occurs. It happened when devout Christians took decorated trees into their homes.
If you have decided to have a real tree with roots this year and want it to last through the holidays then here’s how to look after the tree. First of all you should water your tree regularly and you can also cover the top soil with mulch or reindeer moss to prevent water evaporating and you could also empty trays of ice cubes onto the soil to prevent the water pooling. Only limit your tree’s time inside to ten day stretches as trees are at their happiest at cool temperatures and bright outdoor light. Leave the tree in the container you bought it in to avoid disturbing the roots as you do not want to combine transplanting shock with taking the tree indoors. A tip if you do not like the container your tree came in then you can drop it into a larger glazed ceramic pot or metal bucket which can also catch excess water.
Community Greenspace continues to work with local groups to help maintain and improve local sites, parks and footpath networks.
Over the past few months we have been working with Wisecraft to offer participants opportunities to gain confidence and learn new skills while working with the local Greenspace Ranger. Wisecraft is a Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub, based in Blairgowrie. For over 11 years, Wisecraft has provided a safe environment for adults recovering from mental illness to rebuild their lives.
Recently the group were invited by local residents to help tidy up the historic graveyard which surrounds Hill Church in Blairgowrie. Over two sessions volunteers helped to cutback and load up branches, rake grass and carefully remove moss to expose covered headstones. This is something different for our keen volunteers who enjoyed working in such a historic place and learning about the history from local residents.
After Christmas Wisecraft will start their John Muir award working in Larghan park, Coupar Angus to help the community build a Willow playarea while learning skills in coppicing. For more information please contact Greenspace Ranger Alistair Macleod firstname.lastname@example.org
Below:- Some of the Wisecraft volunteers taking part in various tasks
Invasive Species are a tricky thing in Tayside. There is a multitude of different invasive species and they all come with different challenges. It is very difficult to conquer these without a catchment wide approach and large amount of parties working together to tackle it.
Invasive species alter our natural environment, they out-compete other native species and dominate areas, creating habitats which don’t provide the diversity our wildlife need to sustain themselves and their populations.
Himalayan Balsam – An Invasive Species
The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative was covered on BBC Landward recently. This is a project funded over the next 3 years to tackle invasive species within several areas including Tayside.
There are training and volunteering opportunities within it find out more information here: https://www.invasivespecies.scot/about-us.
These are great skills to develop for those who are part of the groups we support or lead and also for those looking to get involved in the land management sector.