Covid-19 restrictions are regularly changing in response to the virus and, at present, the Rangers are not able to lead volunteer groups on site. However, works on our path networks still needs to be carried out. The Perth & Kinross Council Community Greenspace tool loan scheme in Highland Perthshire is in full swing. The scheme aims to provide the means to carry out small path tasks.
It’s not just our regular volunteer groups that can benefit from this scheme! Also making use of our tools has been the Outdoor Education group at Breadalbane Community Campus, which aims to give every child an experience on a hills, river, snow and opportunities to complete the John Muir Award.
Tools can be loaned out to groups that wish to carry out site management works or other great projects. Our Rangers are putting Covid-19 measures in place providing guidelines for groups and putting in extra sterilising measurers into place. If you or your group would like use of any tools, please contact your local ranger for more information.
Path groups in Highland Perthshire have always been encouraged to audit their paths. Every group does it differently but each method works!
During lockdown people were encouraged to take daily exercise once a day and that message should not be lost as we come out of lockdown. During these daily walks the Pitlochry Path group sent the Community Greenspace Ranger photos of access, signage, and vegetation issues. This has enabled remote decisions to be made on what further action was required and how the issue could be resolved.
One such example is that of a snapped fingerpost on the Clunie path and Strathtay Way (also part of the Rob Roy Way). During Phase 1 a household volunteer from the Pitlochry Path group was able to replace the fingerpost. This was achievable by having a small stock of replacement posts available for path groups, and by the volunteer using their own tools. A hand made Rob Roy Way logo was created as the original had disappeared. As lockdown and travel restrictions have eased this route has now been properly way-marked.
If you want further information on Path Auditing or volunteering for a local path group please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
In response to Covid-19, PKC has set up a temporary Fly-tipping Fund of £20,000 to support communities affected by fly-tipping on private land in Perth and Kinross. The Fund welcomes applications from landowners, communities and individuals across Perth and Kinross who wish to carry out mini-projects to clear the fly-tipping and implement preventative actions at each site to resolve the localised problem long-term.
Rural locations, particularly such as those in Highland Perthshire, have always had issues with fly-tipping, often in beauty spots. However, during lockdown and as restrictions lift, there has been a notable increase in fly-tipping. This is totally unacceptable as within a week of Recycling Centres being open, people have been able to take any materials for recycling, and commercial-type vehicles including trailers have re-gained access. However, there are still new reports of fly-tipping.
Fly-tipping creates a burden for landowners who need to access their fields to feed livestock daily or to harvest crops. The burden is also felt by wildlife who can become entangled in the rubbish and by people living in the rural communities; all suffering the blight of fly-tipping during walks along country lanes, past laybys, through woodlands or whilst commuting. In Highland Perthshire, one person has reported five separate fly-tipping locations over a very short period of time. Unfortunately, a lot happens on rural remote roads, down embankments and on private land which makes it difficult to clear or at a cost. The temporary Fund not only helps to deliver a positive, quick solution but also demonstrates that fly-tipping is not acceptable.
Landowners, communities or individuals can apply to the Fund for the disposal of the fly-tipping and to finance preventative actions which will help to stop the fly-tipping at that location in the future. Preventative actions could include physical barriers (such as fencing), traffic prohibiting measures (such as posts or boulders), a local campaign, signage and/or CCTV. The Waste Services Team can provide advice to landowners on preventative actions and will also work with landowners to recover any relevant evidence to support further enforcement.
It is anticipated that each application will be in the region of £500 to £1,000 but there is not a minimum limit for funding requests and although the maximum funding award will be £3,000, in exceptional circumstances, a larger award may be made. The application process aims to take a maximum of 3 weeks so that there is quick access for those affected. To access the application form and guidance, please visit www.pkc.gov.uk/flytippingfund.
Meanwhile, to help prevent new cases of fly-tipping, householders are reminded that everyone has a legal Duty of Care to ensure that their unwanted items are only removed from their property by a licensed waste operator (the list can be found online at https://www2.sepa.org.uk/wastecarriers/) who can legally carry and correctly dispose of waste. If items are in good condition, they can be passed on for reuse (www.pkc.gov.uk/wheretodonate) or unwanted items can either be collected from outside their home via a special uplift (www.pkc.gov.uk/specialuplifts) or taken to a Recycling Centre (www.pkc.gov.uk/recyclingcentres). Householders with a commercial-type vehicle or a trailer, wishing to access a PKC Recycling Centre are encouraged to check their recycling permit is up-to-date and review the new social distancing requirements at www.pkc.gov.uk/recyclingpermits
With so many people stuck at home and taking their daily exercise as locally as possible many paths are seeing more foot traffic than usual. If heading out on a walk please remember to take away or dispose of any litter and to pick up after your dog. Check the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for advice on walking responsibly.
At this time of year lambing is also well underway, so it is particularly important to keep dogs under close control where there may be livestock. Dogs can cause unnecessary worry that may contribute to the premature death of sheep as well as any unborn lambs. If you need to go into a field of sheep, keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel and keep your distance from the animals.
In the video below Bob Barr and Kate Hall share there experiences of dogs worrying sheep in the Lothians.
On an eyrie Thursday morning just before Christmas, 15 Pitlochry path group volunteers turned up to clear leaves, dig out drains and steps and sweep the Aluminium Bridge in Pitlochry. Over 1km of tarmac footways and paths were raked and swept in just over two hours. Although this was one of the easy tasks, everybody kept warm fuelled by hot beverages and mince pies.
If you fancy joining in helping to keep the promoted pitlochry path network user friendly and “conserved” please contact the group via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
I am reporting on a very successful collaboration between Farmer, Upper Tay Path Group, Rural Skills (at Breadalbane Secondary) and Perth & Kinross Community Greenspace which has seen works to help and protect a stunning wildflower meadow within 10minutes walking distance of Aberfeldy.
The issue for a number of years has been compacting of soil where people walked through the meadow and nutrient enrichment where people have not picked up after their dogs.
The Rural Skills students built a short section of fence to block off one of the entrances to the meadow. This hasn’t worked so the Path Group got the path that is to be used mowed. The path was widened by cutting back the Blackthorn and the cut branches were used to barrier the other entrance to the meadow. Waymarker posts were installed and a temporary signage installed.
It is hoped that the Rural Skills can produce a signage and funding is to be sought to highlight what is growing in the meadow.
31st July, International Ranger Day – the thin green line
‘Ranger’ is a job title used all over the world; with every Ranger role unique. Some bear arms to protect wildlife, forests and crops, other clean toilets and litter pick. There are also those, such as the PKC Greenspace Rangers whose remit is to bring people into Greenspaces and the wider Countryside.
In Scotland the Ranger job is thankfully not considered dangerous and we are incredibly luck that it often takes us to beautiful and wild places. However one of our roles is to educate people who are accessing greenspaces irresponsibly (as defined in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code) or doing illegal activities. These situations can be scary, especially when working alone and dealing with people with axes, chainsaws or dogs that have no collar or leads and are chasing the local wildlife.
In PKC we are lucky to have a robust lone working system and training to help us deal with difficult situations. We acknowledge that those who share our title around the world may not have such systems or techniques available to them.
On the last day of July every year Rangers throughout the world honour and remember those who put their lives at risk every day to protect our planet and we take time to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. Behind every fallen Ranger there is a wider community affected by the loss of life and they too suffer. So, today (31st July) we unite to remember those whom have fallen and their wider communities, we thank them for all they do.
17th Perthshire Beaver Scouts spent a pre-midge season evening in the Birks of Aberfeldy where they learned how to make a shelter in the den building area, slack lining and responsible access into the countryside. As ever the Ranger was happy to be involved in making the access legislation fun by heating up water responsibly for hot chocolate and making the odd smore!
Highland Perthshire was buzzing with volunteers during May! It was a busy month with community groups, school groups out working together. Tasks included refurbishing a boardwalk at Rannoch Station, removing Beech trees from the Birks of Aberfeldy, building bird boxes and bashing bracken.
As a result of the wet weather and number of tasks we had a mountain of gloves needing to be washed! Thank goodness for the amazing donations of cake that kept everyone motivated and full of energy!