The Future of the Loon Braes

Community Greenspace

Community Greenspace hosted a meeting on 24th January to discuss ideas and issues within the Loon Braes area in Rattray. The aim was to generate interest and present a number of case studies which could be applied to the area.

We are keen to work with the community to allow the area to reach its full potential and become an asset which PKC and the community can be proud of.

Eight representatives from key groups within Blairgowrie and Rattray attended the meeting. We enjoyed chatting about the past history and was great to hear the enthusiasm from within the community. We are now producing a plan for the area and are aware of the desire from the community to see these plans come to fruition.

 

Loon

Some ideas from the meeting!

 

It is hoped we can update on plans at the next Blairgowrie community market. Should you wish to become involved in a steering group for the area? Please contact me at ajmacleod@pkc.gov.uk

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Loon Braes pond – great for wildlife and people love it too!

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Behind the scenes

For a number of years there has been a partnership between Abernethy Trust – Ardeonaig Centre and Perth and Kinross Council. Participants from Ardeonaig help the Community Greenspace Ranger to complete Forest Plan works in the Birks of Aberfeldy and with Path Groups.

For the second year running the “Gappies” who work hard behind the scenes at Ardeonaig are getting the opportunity in completing their John Muir Awards.  This has also therefore involved a couple of trips to the Birks of Aberfeldy. In their own words…..

Team involvement in the John Muir Award at Abernethy Ardeonaig

The first part of the John Muir Award is to discover a wild place. Loch Tay is a large beautiful loch surrounded by an inspiring mountainous landscape with stunning trees scattered around it. In exploring it, we have canoed and kayaked on it, giving us hours of fun and entertainment. It is easy to see just how appealing the area is at first glance, as the shimmering water is virtually begging for attention. Here at Ardeonaig we have the privilege of having such a wonderful natural spectacle right outside our front door!

We went to the Birks of Aberfeldy to help Jeannie Grant for our conservation day. It is a forested area that also has beautiful waterfalls and path to walk on. Scotland’s national poet Robbie Burns wrote his poem The Birks of Aberfeldy about the birch trees here.

When people think of conservation, they tend to think about making or introducing something to the area to help it along, but we conserved the area by doing the opposite. We got rid of beech trees because they prevent other trees from growing properly. Beech trees are a massive problem at the Birks because they tend to dominate other species of plant and they multiply quicker than other trees. Jeannie gave us the tools to get rid of the beech trees that cover the paths and disrupt other trees from growing. We used tree poppers to get the trees out of the ground and used many types of saws including a bow saw and pole saw to cut down branches that are in the way of the path. The best tool to use was the tree popper because it took out the roots from under the ground so prevented more trees from growing. This could be quite hard work and a lot of the time you also needed to use a spade to help get the tree out of the ground.

One of the trees we were protecting was an oak tree sapling that had been damaged by a deer. We used some of the branches that we sawed off the beech trees to put around the little oak tree. We also helped protect a monkey puzzle tree by cutting back the trees around it to let more light in.

After quite a while of pulling out trees and cutting down branches we had cleared quite a bit, so we moved on to something different. We split into two groups and we both had to make a natural shelter out of whatever we could find. Then we learnt how to make fires in Kelly Kettles when out in the wild.

When we got back to Abernethy Ardeonaig, we took some of the baby beech trees and planted them in our grounds here. They are in the raised beds by the tool-shed, and in the future they will be planted in the hedge near where the archery range is. This is to help stop children from getting too near the maintenance zone when they are playing in the grounds.

It was a really good day and it was a great feeling of taking responsibility for our surroundings and knowing that other people and nature will benefit from our hard work.

Finally, to complete our Discovery Level Award, we prepared a presentation on what we had done, with anecdotes and photos, and presented it to the rest of the Abernethy Ardeonaig Team.

Esteban, Jakob, Katrin, Liane, Marvin, Murray & Will

Abernethy Ardeonaig Gappies 2017-18

 

 

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Junior Rangers brave the cold;

Perth and Kinross Community Greenspace Rangers enjoy working with Pitlochry High Pupils in order for them to get their Junior Ranger and John Muir Award (Conserve level) awards. The last task held in November was a challenge for everyone… in their own words…

25/11/17- Black Spout Wood- Replanting Seedlings

The S3 Junior Ranger group travelled on the minibus to Pitlochry’s Black Spout Woods on a winter day that crept in through our multiple layers of clothes with gelid fingers, so it was best to get working as quickly as possible. Our task was explained to us by Jeannie, to replant seedlings or saplings away from the adjacent archaeological site, an Iron Age building explored in 2005-2009 (the building was discovered to be approximately from 250 BC- 50 AD), to conserve the site by ensuring the site is devoid of trees in case the trees take over the ancient site.

We spilt into groups of roughly two or three to complete our task. Firstly, we would select a seedling to move, this was facilitated with small pieces of red and white plastic tape tied around some saplings and dig a square with a spade around it. This was done so that the roots of the tree remained intact. This was imperative as it ensured the tree would have the best chance with some pre-establishment when it was relocated.

We then found a small glade in the forest to plant the tree, it is best to give the tree as much sunlight space as possible. A square was then dug out, and the turf put to one side to be utilised later, which was deep enough to accommodate the tree’s roots and with a periphery of space around. The tree would be positioned and the turf would be packed in around it, upside down in order so that the tree would have a good opportunity to grow and we pushed the soil down by stamping thoroughly.

After the tree was planted we needed to fortify it against overgrazing from animals such as deer grazing on it and destroying it. We would place 2 or 4 poles (depending on the size of the seedling) as a base to wrap the chicken wire around.  In order to do this we would firstly construct a hole to hold the pole utilising a pinch-bar, we would lift the pinch-bar up and let it drop and the weight of the pinch-bar would create a hole. The hole would be made more capacious (not too large although in order to give the pole stability) by moving the pinch-bar in a circular motion in this hole. The wooden pole (chosen as it is rather cheap and conforms to the surrounding environment) would then be inserted and secured with a metal open-bottomed cylinder with handles on each side (this was very effective but cumbersome due to weight so some of us required assistance) and this had the same effect of the pinch-bar, we would lift it up and use the weight of its fall to secure the pole. We would continue doing this until the pole was sufficiently in.

After the poles were fixed in we would then wrap and secure the chicken wire around the tree. We approximated the length the chicken wire and cut them utilising a multi-functional device with a wire-cutter included. To secure the chicken wire on the poles we could either utilise a stapler or nail a large nail a third of the way in and then we would deliberately bend it over to secure it.

We then consumed our lunch in the warmth of the mini-bus and after this we finished fixing the protection.

Our next job was to plant holly bushes and hazel saplings which then could be used in later years in producing berries and nuts to help the environment as it helps to feed local wildlife such as red squirrels helping them to survive the year. These were donated by SEPA. Our method of doing this was utilising a spade to dig a small hole in the soil and securing the plant in. In order to protect the plant we would stick a small wooden pole in the soil diagonally towards the plant and use it to support a hollow plastic cylinder that was around the plant to protect it from overgrazing. We attempted to spread these plants out as much as possible and avoid grouping the same plants together so we would not be planting plantations that only support certain species.

Overall, the entire group that came really enjoyed it and are grateful to Jeannie for taking the time to do this with us.

Invergowrie Memorial Park

Last week I enjoyed spending the morning at Invergowrie Primary School to speak to the children in their classrooms about plans to improve their local play area in Invergowrie Memorial Park in the next year.

The children told me what they thought of the park and what was missing, what would make it better, how often they visited the park and how they travelled there. We also talked about how we could make it more accessible for people with disabilities.

I used my flash cards to prompt discussion on their favourite types of play as it’s important to understand how they like to play before deciding what equipment would help them enjoy their time at the park. Top things to do in order of priority were playing on logs and boulders, climbing, ball games, sliding , playing on mounds and slopes, adventure trails and sledging.

Some of the children had already been thinking of ideas for the park and I came back to the office with a pile of great drawings.  The children were all excited about possible improvements and keen to give me their ideas. I said I would keep in touch with the children on progress and get back to them if there were any decisions on equipment and layout we needed help with.

As well as this there is great interest from the local community. Invergowrie and Kingoodie Community Group was officially constituted in January 2018 after around 18 months of public meetings and people coming together to talk about how they want to improve their villages.

At the top of their agenda is improvements to the park. They are looking at doing their own fundraising for park improvements such as enhanced play equipment, community growing space, additional signage and interpretation highlighting the park’s historical significance.

They are keen to improve a much loved community space and also to bring the local community together. Invergowrie Memorial Park is at the heart of their villages being the only public green space, children’s play equipment space and having the villages’ war memorial.

I worked with the group to carry out a public consultation about the park in 2017 which had over 160 responses. By the far the biggest response to what could be improved was play equipment (88.5% of respondents) but benches, bins and flowers/plants all featured highly too.

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Crieff High School Group January Round up

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Group doing drainage at Lady Mary’s

The school group have been busy since the start of the year.

The winter weather looked like it was going to snow the group off but the pupils were given the option and decided they would still like to go out! So we headed to the park to carry out some tool maintenance. The group have been learning about all the different tools and how to maintain them,  they are now so skilled they tell me how its maintained! The weather did progressively get worse so we did curtail the task as pupils started to get a little blue!

Fortunately the following week the weather was a little better and we headed down to Lady Mary’s Walk and the group worked really hard on the

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Group working on the broom up the Knock

drainage (just in time for all the snow melt and rain that we had!). They really enjoyed this task and even asked if they can do it again which is really positive. Ensuring the drains are clear prevent the risk of the paths flooding so its important that we keep them flowing.

Finally this week the group were up the knock carrying out some of the broom management as part of the forest management plan. We were using tree poppers which are a useful tool that remove trees and shrubs from the roots. This is a task the group had done before so they are well versed in it and put in a great effort to finish off the section that we hard started before. Removing the broom is important as it acts like an invasive, takes over and out-competes other vegetation such as trees.

The group are going to be looking at some more drainage work, some path maintenance work and some willow weaving soon!

John Muir Awards and Training

holly in the hollow

The PKC Ranger Service is able to support groups, or individuals, that wish to use Perth and Kinross Council owned greenspace sites to achieve a John Muir Award.

The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme that encourages people to discover and explore an area of greenspace, and then take practical action to conserve this area. The final part of the award is to share your experiences with other people. The award is the educational programme of the John Muir Trust. They are the UK’s leading wild land conservation charity, inspired by the legacy of John Muir.

 

 

With a number of new rangers joining the greenspace team, it was recommended to do the formal training lead by a John Muir Trust member of staff.  We were fortunate to use Breadalbane Community Campus and opened the days training to PKC teaching staff and other ranger services in the area.

During the course the group learned about the award structure is being versatile making it suitable for a wide audience. It can be carried out in an array of greenspace from gardens to mountains. There are three different levels for the award, discovery, explorer and conserver levels.

  • The discovery award is the introductory level which requires the participant to carry out a minimum of 4 days working on a project.
  • The intermediate level is the explorer award which requires participants to carry out a minimum of 8 days.
  • The advanced level is the conserver award where a minimum of 20 days over a period of 6 months is required.

The day crammed in a lot of information including writing up a proposal form and trying out a number of resources the John Muir Trust had to offer.

The award can be done on its own or to complement other awards such as Duke of Edinburgh or the Junior Ranger scheme and the Rangers are keen to do this.

If you would like to discuss a John Muir Award project, PKC Ranger Service can be contacted here

loitering in the woods  subtle sign of natureoutside warm-up

Our JMA Poem – Various Participants

Standing in the cold,

Deep roots take a hold,

Cracked, mossy bark,

Lichens have left their mark,

What are you?

 

 

Consultation on the Knock Management Plan 2018 – 2023

untitledWe have been working hard on our plan to improve the Knock have come up with a Draft Management plans and we want your opinions! We need your help to make the Knock the place the community wants it to be.

To assist with this we will be hosting a walk and talk session on the 12th of February from 13:00 until 14:30 meeting at the upper car park (see map below) of the Knock. We will also be holding a drop in session at Strathearn Community Campus from 15:30- 17:30 on the 12th of February.

This is your opportunity to have your say!

For more information, please contact the Greenspace Ranger – Alan Dorman – through the contact us page.

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Caring for the Cairngorms – Perthshire

A unique partnership is being launched on Saturday the 20 January at Killiecrankie Village Hall.  Three separate Ranger services are joining forces to launch and run the “Caring for the Cairngorms – Perthshire” group, namely Perth and Kinross Council Community Greenspace, National Trust for Scotland ranger service and Atholl estates Ranger service.

The group aims to bring people to work on footpaths, habitats and wildlife and path surveys.  The group will meet twice a month at various locations. All tasks will start at 1000, with some of them finishing at 1230 and others at 1500.  It is a great opportunity to make a difference on your doorstep or an area you enjoy visiting.

“This new adventure would not be possible without staff from the Cairngorm National Park facilitating and administrating this venture. ” Jeannie Grant from Perth and Kinross Council Community Greenspace.171204KilliecrankiePoster

PKC Participatory Budgeting

Have you heard about Participatory Budgeting?  Also known as PB ….

It enables residents to decide how public money should be spent in their communities.  The Scottish Government supports PB as a way of empowering communities and is funding local projects.

Please follow the link below for information on forthcoming events in Perth and Kinross and see how you can access some of this funding.

http://www.pkc.gov.uk/article/18762/Participatory-Budgeting-Perth-Kinross-Decides-

I hope this helps support the fantastic work that you all do.

Community Greenspace