Forth Valley Orchard May Blossom Week

This May sees the end of Fruitful Communities,  and a series of events across the Inner Forth will ensure the work of the project continues to bloom.   

Led by the Forth Valley Orchard Initiative, Fruitful Communities has been working with local people to help them get the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to maintain the orchard resource of the Inner Forth in the long-term.

On Saturday 13 May Kennentpans Distillery will host the Family Tree Blossoming Day (follow the link to book) in the plum orchard there, and will include craft activities, Citizen Science guides, an Orchardeering Quiz Trail, and time to explore the space and enjoy the views of the Forth that it offers.

This is followed on the Sunday by a family fun day at Riverside Community Orchard, which will also have the Quiz Trail, as well as a photo competition and various craft activities. There is no need to book for this event, which takes place 11:30am - 3:00pm.

The weekend caps off a full week of events around the Inner Forth, where FVOI will have worked with school children on a whole host of fun activities designed to connect them with their local orchards. You can find out about the full range of events here

Fruitful Communities is an IFLI project intended to expand on the work as part of the Fruitful Landscape project.

The Forth Valley Orchard Initiative is part of the Forth Environment Link.

First steps in Grangemouth restorations

The first weekend in May will see a range of community events taking place at Zetland Park in Grangemouth, centred around the digital reconstruction of the historic town clock tower.

The clock tower was disassembled after the Old Town Chambers was destroyed in a fire and has since been kept in storage. To enchance its chances of being rebuilt, IFLI will be working with AOC Archaeology, Falkirk Council and a number of community groups (including EARL, Friends of Zetland Park and Grangemouth Heritage Trust). We'll be bringing the pieces of the clock to Zetland Park over the weekend of 6 and 7 may to allow them to digitally scanned, photographed and archived. This will then go to creating a 3D model of how the tower should be reconstructed. This will form an important part of a future bid to secure funding for the wider regeneration of the Park itself, and will give volunteers a chance to be part of an exciting and unique project, as well as gaining a variety of hands-on experiences in photography, restoration and digital cataloguing.

All the spaces for volunteers on the day are now fully booked, but everyone is very welcome to come down to the park and find out more about the restoration.

And that's not all - between 11:00am and 3:00pm on Sunday 7th May the Friends of Zetland Park will be hosting a community networking event. Come along to find out more about what's going on in your local area; there will be lots of fun activities at the stalls as well as face-painting and wildlife ID walks. 

For more information please contact IFLI's Kirsty McAlister on 01324 831568 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Black Devon Wetlands Family Fun Day

Join IFLI and the RSPB for a day of family fun to celebrate the launch of the new Nature Reserve Black Devon Wetlands in Alloa.

Saturday 22 April will see a whole range of great events for kids - a story-telling workshop, bug hotel-building and hunts, a scavenger hunt, and the chance to explore the new site and viewing structure. There will be the oppurtunity to learn more about what makes this site an important part of the Inner Forth landscape. 

The family fun day takes place 10am-3pm, and is free of charge. There is no need to book, so you can just head along at any time through the day.

Since the RSPB took over the lease for the Clackmannanshire wetland site in 2015 they have been working not only to improve the natural habitat for wildlife, but also to make the area a vital resource for the local community.

Even if you can't make it on the 22nd, the Wetlands are free to access at any time. 

For more information on the site and what wildlife you can find there please visit the RSPB website.

How to get there

By bike: The nearest Sustrans route is no. 76 (Round the Forth)

By train: Alloa train station is approximately 2.5km away. From the A907 take Auld Brig Road. At the roundabout take the second exit onto Greenside Street. Turn left into Broad Street. Turn left on to Bowhouse Road. Turn left onto Riverside View, the reserve can be reach via the public footpath at the end of Riverside View.

By bus: The nearest bus stop is on Bowhouse Road, this is on the Tillicoutry to Glenochil route (C2). From the stop, turn into Riverside View and take the public footpath at the end of Riverside View.

By road: From the A907 take the Auld Brig Road, at the roundabout take the second exit onto Greenside Street. Turn left into Broad Street. Turn left onto Bowhouse Road. There is currently no designated parking for the reserve but there is limited parking in the small car park at the junction of the Bowhouse Road and Riverside View. The postcode for sat-navs is FK10 1BZ. This is a residential area, so please park responsibly.  There are several larger car parks in Alloa town centre including Candleriggs and Ring-Road East car parks which are only short walks from the Wetlands entrance.

RSPB hold event to help local landowners protect Inner Forth wildlife

The RSPB and IFLI are hosting a free event in March to get people involved in creating new wildlife habiats of all sizes across the Inner Forth area.

'Wildlife Connections: Linking Wildlife-Rich Habitats Across The Inner Forth' is the perfect event for any landowner who wants to do their bit to help make the Inner Forth a better place for nature. This one-day event will feature a mixture of talks from community groups, land managers, charities, and local authorities explaining what they have done to help wildlife on their land and why. 

Bothkennar, an important Inner Forth area for birds. Photo: Kate Fuller

There will also be practical workshops with advice on managing specific types of habitats, including woodland, wetland and wildflower meadows, and oppurtunities to talk to a range of experts and highlight projects you may want to take forward, or areas where you may need assistance. 

RSPB Futurescapes Officer David Anderson said: "We are very excited to be hosting this event as part of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative. It is vital that we all do our bit to help give nature a home in the Inner Forth and this event provides a fantastic oppurtunity for landowners from a range of sectors to learn what they can do to help wildlife on their land. It is sure to be a fun, interesting and enjoyable day."

Wildlife Connections will take place on Thursday 23rd March from 10:00am - 4:00pm at Alloa Tower. Booking can be made through the Eventbrite page for the event or by contacting the IFLI Office on 01324 831568 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tickets are free and lunch is provided. 

World Wetlands Day in the Inner Forth

Wetlands are an important part of the Inner Forth Landscape, with its mudlfats, saltmarsh, lagoons and mosses providing vital food and shelter for many thousands of birds every winter. As 2nd February is World Wetlands Day, IFLI is joining people from all over the world to celebrate and recognise the importance of wetlands to local, national and global communities.

 

Flock of redwing in flight at Kinneil Lagoons. Photo: David Palmar

 

The Ramsar Convention

The importance of the Inner Forth's wetlands is reflected in the fact that the landscape is a Ramsar site, part of the wider Firth of Forth. This means it is one of over 2000 sites worldwide which are recognised as being of global importance, as a result of the Ramsar Convention, which was signed in the Iranian city of the same name in 1971. This convention aims to work towards, and promote, wise and sustainable use of wetlands worldwide, and works with 160 different nations.

A big part of the Convention's outreach work is World Wetlands Day, held 2 February every year since 1997. Each Day also has a unique theme, with this year being "Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction".

Why are Wetlands important?

Wetlands serve a variety of important functions around the world. They can act as natural barriers to prevent flooding, storing huge amounts of overflow water that could otherwise cause even more severe damage. In many places with more extreme weather than the UK wetlands can also act as reservoirs. When these areas enter the dry season the gradual release of this stored water from the wetlands can then reduce the impact of drought. It's estimated that one acre of wetland can store over 1 million gallons of floodwater.

As well as this peat wetlands, like our own Wester Moss, can store huge amounts of carbon, holding a third of the world's total carbon despite taking up only three per cent of the planet's surface area. Wetlands also provide vital habitat for a huge number of species. More than one third of world's endangered species rely either directly or indirectly on wetlands for their survival.

And this before we even consider the cultural or historical importance of wetland sites to societies around the world. Ramsar research indicates that a third of their designated sites have historical, cultural, religious or mythical significance to the communities who live next to them.

However, despite their importance wetlands are often in danger of being converted or destroyed for other uses, with more than 60% of the world's wetlands being destroyed since the start of the 20th century.

Inner Forth Wetlands

Fortunately around the Inner Forth we don't have the issue of such extreme and dangerous weather, although we have lost many of our saltmarshes and mudflats through land reclamation, and some may still be threatened in the future. But our wetlands play an important role in the landscape - not only in the flood prevention, but also in providing habitats for literally thousands of different species. That's why, throughout the four years of the IFLI partnership, we have worked on several projects focussing on important wetlands areas across the Inner Forth. 

Black Devon Wetlands. Photo: Robert Trevis-Smith

 

These include at Black Devon, where the RSPB has improved not only visitor access but the habitat conditions for winter wading birds; and also at Cambus Pools where we have worked with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Other important wetlands sites of along the Inner Forth include Kinneil Lagoons next to Bo'ness, Torry Bay in Fife, and the saltmarsh and mudflats between RSPB Skinflats and Bothkennar Pools, behind Skinflats village.

So why not take World Wetlands Day as a chance to explore these important parts of the Inner Forth. Areas like Black Devon are still populated with wintering birds like shelduck and curlew, which make for an incredible site as you walk along the shoreline. If you do head out we always love to see pictures or hear your experiences on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

More information on wetlands:

Wetlands: a natural safeguard against disasters

The importance of wetlands

10 wetland facts to knock your wellies off

Firth of Forth Ramsar Site

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