The Green Routes Group in Crieff was busy last Thursday creating some tree pits for a few of the trees along the lade-side in MacRosty Park. We were lucky enough to be joined by Graham from another department within the council, and Sebastienne from the NHS.
Tree pits are used for several purposes, and can be very small or vast in size – depending on the location and the size of the tree. In the case of these trees the pits were created to prevent grass from growing right up to the base of the tree. When cutting grass that is too close to the base of the tree there is a risk of damaging the tree with the cutting equipment.
To create these pits we needed to dig out the top 4-6 inches of soil from around the base of the trees. We then put down some mulch matting to prevent weeds from growing as readily, and filled in the rest with bark. Once finished the pits looked great, and should require very little maintenance each year, other than occasional top-up of bark.
On Tuesday 3rd September volunteers from several path groups across PKC came to Crieff to take part in some PKC-led strimmer, leaf blower and pedestrian flail training. We had members from path groups in Crieff, Auchterarder and Abernethy taking part, despite a downpour throughout!
Much of the work the paths groups undertake requires the use of these tools, and proper operation of them is essential for the safety of both the user and those around them, as well as preventing damage to the equipment.
If you or your path group would be interested in being trained up on the safe use of strimmers, leaf blowers or flails we hope to hold another session soon. To register you interest please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Green Routes to Wellbeing in Crieff have done a fantastic job in achieving their John Muir Discovery Awards! 7 people within the group have earned the award through their voluntary activities in MacRosty Park and Lady Mary’s Walk with Calum, the Greenspace Ranger for Strathearn.
After discovering the different species that live in the area we have built bird and bat boxes to go up throughout the park. In addition to this we have planted and maintained several flowerbeds, which are regularly visited by bumblebees and butterflies! We also found a red squirrel using an old bird nest box, so it’s anyone’s guess what will make use of our new houses!
We have really enjoyed the nature-focussed activities involved in achieving the award. In the past we have done a lot of vegetation and path management, or maintaining/weeding/planting flower beds, with little context outside of keeping the park looking good. So, by tying in previous tasks with more of a focus on biodiversity and nature we’ve had a greater sense of achievement.
With a couple keen birders, an ex-forester and a former landscaper in the group, there has been considerable knowledge shared between us, and I think we all have a better understanding of our surrounding environment as a result. Going forward we will be doing some more nature-focussed tasks to tie in with our routine maintenance. As a group we have plans to create another wildflower area in the park and to promote the red squirrels in the area by building a squirrel feeder.
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.
This summer has seen a huge amount of weed growth across all of Perth and Kinross. Needless to say, the Lade in MacRosty Park is no exception, as several weeds including Burrweed and Duckweed took over in a short space of time.
On a couple of occasions over the last few weeks some eager volunteers have helped Calum to remove the bulk of the weeds and cut back the encroaching vegetation. Along the way we have found a host of different invertebrates, amphibians and even a dead brown trout (although we’re not quite sure how it got there!).
To give the amphibians and invertebrates the best chance to return to the water, the removed weeds were stacked next to the Lade and will be removed a few days later.
As a result the Lade looks much improved, and the water is running far better.
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.
This summer Kids Week in Crieff begins on Sunday 14th July with Gala Day. KWIC then includes a variety of activities and events through five consecutive days of activities timetabled from Monday 15th to Friday 19th July 2019. KWIC is aimed at all ages of kids (from tots to teens) and is an all-inclusive, intergenerational, week-long event held in various venues throughout Crieff.
Several events will be taking place in MacRosty Park, including the Fairy Walk throughout the week and the Gala Day on Friday the 19th July. Visit the Kids Week in Crieff website or the KWIC Facebook page for more details. Event timetables are available in many stores in Crieff as well as the Pavillion Café and Strathearn Community Campus.
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!
Over the last month the Crieff Green Routes to Wellbeing volunteers started progress towards achieving John Muir Discovery and Explorer Awards through their volunteering work at MacRosty Park and Lady Mary’s Walk in Crieff.
So far we have learned a bit about the history of John Muir, the Scottish-American naturalist who helped to found and protect the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks as well as many other natural areas. Through his work and writings John Muir has inspired many conservationists in Scotland, USA and elsewhere around the world.
After talking about John Muir’s history, we then talked about what makes MacRosty Park so special to us, while walking around each part of the park. The variety of different habitats and species within the park were one of the main things that stuck out to us – from well-manicured flower beds with various flowering plants, to the wooded areas around the park with tall trees and the ground covered by wild garlic. We discussed how the maintenance that we do as a group contributes towards this variety and why it is important to have this amazing space just on our doorstep.
Last week we finished making a bug hotel out of recycled pallets, sticks, pine cones and other things found around the park. Even before construction was finished we could see some insects moving in! Can anyone think of a good name for out new hotel? We have also started to build some bird houses. After spotting several Robins, blue tits and other birds around the park, we have no doubt they’ll be well used once finished!
Everyone is welcome to join us at the opening of phase 3 of the Provost’s Walk in Auchterarder on Wednesday 3rd July at 2pm!
Starting south of the Public Park, off Western Road, the celebration event will begin at 14.00 with the ribbon cutting and shall then involve a visit along the path to the western end and back again. The return distance is just over two kilometres and the path will be open to all non-motorised traffic – foot, bicycle, wheelchair/mechanical wheelchair, pram and horse. This will be a great opportunity to meet with those involved, including funders, community path volunteers, and other members of the Auchterarder Community, some of whom have never visited this section of the path due to the poor condition of the surface, drainage and the narrow width plus difficult access at the western end.