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!
The Ranger role is to increase the use of greenspaces and countryside sites by the people of Perth and Kinross and our many visitors; encouraging people to spend more time in greenspaces enjoying the mental and physical benefits that this brings. Greenspace Rangers also support and promote a variety of opportunities for community involvement in the management of these sites.
Follow the links above for more information and to apply.
On Tuesday 22nd, one of the volunteer groups in MacRosty Park in Crieff braved the wintery conditions to cut back some of the encroaching vegetation. The vegetation surrounding the toilet block had got to the stage where accessing the items stored behind the building was nearly impossible, not to mention being a bit of an eye-sore.
As seen in the before and after photos, there was quite a transformation! (not to mention the addition of more snow…)
If you would like to volunteer with community greenspace, or simply want to find out more please email email@example.com
Over the last couple of months the Portmoak Paths Group amd Portmoak Community Council have been working hard to maintain the historical “Dryside Road” core path that runs from Easter Balgedie, behind Wester Balgedie to GlenLomond, after which it continues as a vehicular route. The path is well known to some of the locals, but has never benefitted from proper signage. For their last meeting of the year, Ranger Calum met with the group on the 13th December to install new signage posts at either end of the path, as well as another at the start of the core path to Glenvale.
We used a new signage design, one of the first to be used for the core paths in Perth and Kinross, and incorporated it into the new posts. Compared to the finger posts and large arrow blades used elsewhere, these new designs are smaller and mounted directly onto a shorter fence post. This allows easier installation and maintenance, as well as reducing the risk of signs being hit by large vehicles driving past – especially important to consider when placing signs at the entrance to farms! From a walker or cyclists perspective, the signs are at a better height for being read, and they are less intrusive on the landscape.
Moving forward, there are plans to further improve the path by installing a new gate and cutting back vegetation where the path has overgrown.
In order to keep the paths on our countryside sites in good condition we need to prevent too much water from the undergrowth from flowing onto the path. Of course, it is never possible to keep the path completely dry, so the path is usually shaped to ensure that water is able to run off the path rather than puddling. An important method for this is to have drainage ditches on some of the wetter parts of the paths to allow water to run away from, and underneath, the paths. At this time of year, once all the leaves have come off the trees, it isn’t unusual to find that drains suddenly become clogged – more so if the drains haven’t been cleared for a couple of years.
We were recently joined by the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) to undertake some work on the drainage ditches on Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park to maintain the high quality paths. Despite a bit of rain, the 13 volunteers worked along a stretch of the pathway on the western side of Kinnoull Hill. While in the area we took the opportunity to remove some of the younger beech trees, in keeping with our long-term plan of encouraging the regeneration of native oak, birch and pines trees.
The PSYV did a fantastic job, both at clearing the ditches and removing surrounding vegetation and beech. Although the ditches hadn’t quite reached the stage of being fully clogged up the difference before and after was still quite significant, and now the ditches should be good for a couple more years. To find out more about the PSYV visit their website or check them out on their Facebook page.
On Thursday I met with some members of the Portmoak Paths Group to find out a bit about the work they are doing. We went to the paths on the hillside above Kinnesswood with the intention of de-berming some of the paths. Sharing the paths with the many walkers, joggers and cyclists are also some cattle. The intensive use of these paths combined with the heavy footfall of the cattle has resulted in trench-like paths with banks on either side. This creates small gulleys in which streams are formed after any rainfall, further eroding the paths.
Removing the banked sides of the paths and filling in the trenches had the effect of widening the paths and allowing water to flow off rather than along it. The result should be a reduced rate of erosion, less standing water (and therefore less mud) and paths that are easier to walk along.
In addition to the levelling out of paths the group also remove encroaching gorse and brush, cut back vegetation and carry out maintenance on a variety of paths in the area. There is always more to be done, as the path maintenance is an on-going but rewarding effort.
If you would like to join the Portmoak Paths Group, they would love to hear from you! They tend to meet every Thursday at 14.00 in the public car park in Kinnesswood (near to Portmoak Primary School). To get involved contact Greenspace Ranger Calum Bachell at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m Calum Bachell, and I will be covering the South Perth and Kinross area until January 2019. Having worked as part of the community greenspace team as a graduate trainee in 2015 I was delighted to come back as a greenspace ranger.
Between leaving PKC in 2015 and now I have completed a Master’s degree in Biology at the University of Tromsø; spending 1 year in Tromsø and another 1 ½ years in Svalbard. I focussed on studying nest defence behaviour in eider ducks against arctic foxes and predatory birds. After completion of my degree I worked a field season for the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, researching and monitoring seabird populations on the west coast of Norway.
My background is largely in ecology and wildlife, having studied a BSc in Ecological Science at The University of Edinburgh between 2010 and 2014. Working now as a Ranger allows me to apply my knowledge and experience in Greenspace sites in Perthshire. Now based back in Scotland I look forward to covering the South Perthshire area, including the incredible Kinnoull Hill, Loch Leven Heritage Trail and other great greenspaces in the area.
This glorious weather has brought the butterflies out and what a beautiful sight it is. We recently joined Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation Scotland for a fascinating insight into butterflies.
Did you know only the male orange-tip butterflies have the bright orange tipped wings? Both have the beautiful green patterns on the underside of their wings.
We visited the North Inch to see the wildflower meadows while Anthony explained how simple it is to record urban butterflies. You choose an urban Greenspace, visit it three times through the spring and summer and report your findings to Butterfly Conservation Scotland using your smart phone or the website. All you need is a sunny day, a simple id guide and a picnic!
In Perth and Kinross there are a total of two full time rangers and three part time rangers covering an area of 5,286 km, the fifth largest area covered by a Council in Scotland.
Although every ranger service is unique, throughout Scotland we all have some common aims which are to engage with people of all ages and encourage all to use green spaces.
In Perth and Kinross we are taking the lead in working with community groups, in particular path groups, health and well being and dementia groups. Our work also contributes to the Scottish wide statistics as shown on the poster below.
If you are interested in finding out more about the work we do or want to volunteer in one of the many groups please do get in touch.