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.
I’m Chris Martin (not the Coldplay one) and I will be covering the East Perth and Kinross area.
I have recently moved up from Buckinghamshire, a long way south of the border, to settle in this wonderful part of Scotland and look forward to experiencing all this area has to offer.
I previously worked for the Environment Agency in Hertfordshire and North London. I started my career in the Field Teams and progressed to the Asset Performance Team for the Flood Risk Management department of the organisation. I am excited to apply my knowledge, skills and experience to the role of Greenspace Ranger.
I love and thrive being outdoors. I am passionate about people and the environment and I look forward to working with the communities of Perth and Kinross.
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 email@example.com .
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
In normal circumstances the PKC Greenspace Rangers are fortunate enough to work closely with many different volunteer and community groups; including leading conservation tasks, helping achieve John Muir Awards, undertaking path maintenance and helping raise funds for larger projects. During the current pandemic and social distancing the rangers have not been able to do many of the projects and tasks that we had planned. So what have the rangers been getting up to?
Some of the normal duties are still possible to continue, such as responding to dangerous trees and access issues, but for the most part we have been working from home. We have used this as an opportunity to catch up on some of the less-exciting paperwork that comes with the job such as writing and updating risk assessments! Other things we have been able to do from home include working on site management plans and keeping in touch with our many wonderful volunteer groups (if you haven’t seen our recent paths group newsletter – check it out here!).
Some new duties have also popped up as a result. At the start of lockdown we put signs up around may of our greenspaces with outdoor access guidance. More recently we have been given the opportunity to help other departments with critical services; delivering food parcels to those needing additional support at this time, and delivering leaflets reaching out to as many people as possible about the different support available to anyone that may need it. If you are resident in Perth & Kinross and require additional support please visit this web-page https://www.pkc.gov.uk/coronavirus/communitysupport.
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.
This is an exciting opportunity for a Greenspace Ranger to join the team to identify opportunities and encourage volunteering in a wide range of Council greenspaces. They will assist with community engagement on greenspace projects and themes and implement an agreed programme of greenspace maintenance tasks to provide opportunities for community involvement and management on greenspace sites and paths networks. This is not a traditional ranger role and an essential part of the role is to undertake site condition inspections for repair programmes and safety purposes including tree and water safety inspections.
The job advert closes on Tuesday 3rd March, so make sure and get your applications in on time!
Saturday (25th) was the first task of the year for the Crieff Paths Group, who were delighted to be joined by a few new members. Armed with a full arsenal of spades, rakes, drainage rods and more, we tackled several of the drainage ditches and culverts along one of Crieff’s most popular paths; Lady Mary’s Walk.
Months (& years!) of leaf litter build-up and vegetation growth had filled in ditches and blocked off culverts. These require occasional maintenance so that water can run off freely without damaging or flooding the path.
Lady Mary’s Walk runs alongside the River Earn and the old dismantled railway. Some of the old railway drainage run offs are still in place, of which one had been overflowing and had started to affect the path. We managed to clear this out and could see immediately that the water was flowing correctly into the ditch and through the culvert into the Earn.
There is still some work to be done along Lady Mary’s Walk, and other paths in the Crieff area will require attention. The group plan to meet on the last Saturday of each month (usually 10.30-12.30) and hope to meet on Wed 19th Feb in addition to this.
If you would be keen to join in with the Crieff Paths Group on future projects, or would like to find out more, please contact the Strathearn Greenspace Ranger, Calum, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Crieff Community Trust on email@example.com (or check out their facebook page).
REMINDER: We also have a Paths Group Networking and Training Event in Pitlochry on the 27th Feb – book now to ensure your place!
On 5th December a group of 20 volunteers – both members of the pubic and council employees – gathered to plant 88 trees up at Viewlands Park in Perth. We were lucky with the weather as a window of relatively rain-free opportunity was open to us for the hour and a half we were there. It’s surprising how quickly you can plant that many whips with a good few hands to the task, and makes you think what a difference can be made while having fun out in the fresh air. Now we just have to hope that they will thrive in time and give all the good things: beautiful foliage, cleaner air, habitat for fellow creatures, and extra carbon sink in these times of climate uncertainty.
By the end, a steaming cuppa and a biccy were welcome rewards!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com