Better connections will help protect local wildlife

An ambitious new Inner Forth project, worth nearly £120,000, is set to make five areas around the Forth better connected for our wetland wildlife.

The Inner Forth Futures Wetland Network has been awarded £119,415, thanks to a grant from the Nature Scot Biodiversity Challenge Fund, to create and improve wetland habitats at five sites around the Inner Forth between now and 2021. A total of over 15ha of new habitat will be created, with more than 155ha made better for wildlife. As wetlands also help increase flood resilience and store carbon, it’s great news for local people too.

The work is focussed at Kildean in Stirling, Black Devon Wetlands in Clackmannanshire, Bluther Wetland in Fife, and Carron Dams and Bothkennar Pools in Falkirk. Plans include creating new pools, scrapes and hedgerows; cutting back reeds and scrub to open up clear water areas; removing invasive species like giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed; installing new fences to manage grazing pressures; and carrying out surveys to assess what future work could be done.

Commenting on the award, Inner Forth Futures Wetland Habitat Network project lead Toby Wilson, of RSPB Scotland, said:

‘The Inner Forth is incredibly valuable for its wetland habitats, with some parts of international importance. This is especially true as we have lost an estimated 35% of our wetlands in the UK over just the last 40 years. This project will not only create much needed new wetland habitat, but most importantly help link existing wetland areas. This means wildlife will be able to move more easily through the landscape using a network of pools and hedgerows, allowing it to spread and thrive. We hope this project will provide a blueprint for others, so that eventually we will have a nationwide network of habitats that will help tackle the biodiversity crisis, and benefit both wildlife and people.’

The project is led by RSPB Scotland on behalf of the Inner Forth Futures Partnership, a group of nine organisations working together to help protect and promote the area’s natural and cultural heritage. RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falkirk, Stirling and Fife Councils will manage work at individual sites.

IFF team working from home

17.03.20  Following the Scottish Government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak,  the IFF team will all be working from home for the foreseeable future. This means that we will not be able to answer phone calls to the office. We are all still available by email, so please get in touch via our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. address, or individually at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd be delighted to hear from you! 

Let's make every day World Wildlife Day!

#WorldWildlifeDay happens every year on Tuesday 3 March. We have an amazing variety around the Inner Forth, and you can find out more about it through the Wildlife pages. But sadly there are many species that are struggling, because of climate change, plastic pollution, habitat loss and invasive species. Why is this news?

Because 2020 is a massive year for wildlife and the environment. With COP26 happening in Glasgow this November, and a similar conference on Biodiversity planned in China, this is the time when we need to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. Globally, wildlife is under threat, with up to 1 million species at risk of extinction because of the things we as humans are doing to the planet. So let's make sure every day is World Wildlife Day! We can all help pass on the benefits that a thriving wildlife and environment can bring us by thinking hard about the way we live - what we eat, what we wear, how we travel, and probably most importantly, what we ask of our decision makers. 

A Winter Wander

January has been pretty wet and windy but that didn’t deter the Inner Forth Futures team earlier this month from taking a day to get out of the office and explore one of our newly created ‘Wanderings and Windings’ trails; Route 1 First Forth Bridges.

With the team of three all coming from different directions, we met at Stirling Station; conveniently the start point for the trail. Heading south-east from the station, we easily picked up the route and were delighted to spot our first waymarking roundels. Following the route through Braehead we were aiming for Millhall; the site of Robert the Bruce’s defeat of the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, also taking in the hidden heritage of the Millhall bing and former colliary. There are some great interpretation panels from the Bannockburn heritage trail here that really helped set the scene.

We then wound our way round the edge of Balquhidderock woodland through to Telford’s Bridge; built in the early 1800’s and quite striking with its unusual, almost circular, construction. Where again we learned about the Skeoch mills and the importance of the Bannock burn in tartan production during this period.
 

Image: Telford's Bridge, Bannockburn. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Wandering west, we headed for the Bannockburn memorial and visitor centre in search of a cup of tea and some lunch – and they did not disappoint! The team dug into hearty helpings of vegetable broth and some delicious cakes, to keep up our energy levels of course! After a brief stop to see some of the props from the ‘Outlaw King’ we were on our way again.

The route then took us along Tinker’s Loan, a picture-esque track which was evidently popular with other walkers, crossing over a great wee 18th century packhorse bridge. The track follows the Bannock Burn before heading north-west towards Gillies Hill, a community-owned ancient woodland and site of former hill forts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stray too far from the route, but we could have easily spent some hours exploring the area and keeping an eye out for red squirrels.

Image: Entrance to woodland at Gillies Hill. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Leaving the woods at Cambusbarron, we began heading back towards the centre of Stirling taking in the views from the edge of Stirling golf course. Looking west with the River Forth meandering its way slowly across the landscape and iconic Stirling Castle sitting proudly to the north-east, you can really begin to understand why it remained a stronghold.

By this point, the rain we had been forecast all day made its appearance and we decided to head back to the station. We all agreed that it was a great way to spend the day; taking in an area, some of the team know well, from different perspectives and finding some absolute gems of hidden heritage.

If you’d like to know more about this route or any of the other Wanderings and Windings trails, you can find them here – along with GPX files and further information about the project.

 

Winter Wanderings Photography Competition Winners

A call for keen photographers to share their pictures embodying the spirit of adventure and exploration was raised with the #WinterWanderings Photography Competition. Running from 19th December right through the holidays until 16th January, we received over twenty fantastic images that captured the many faces of the Inner Forth – from woodland cycles in Fife and riverside ambles in Clackmannanshire to candid moments with wildlife in Falkirk and exploring derelict buildings in Stirling.

Five shortlisted entries were then shared on Inner Forth Futures’ Facebook and Twitter accounts for a public vote which gathered fantastic support – thank you to everyone who took part!

The winning entry was ‘Day Break at Kinneill’ by Mhairi Mcainsh; depicting an early morning walk with her dog on Route 7: Bo’ness & Linlithgow Ramble.

Image: 'Daybreak at Kinneil' by Mhairi Mcainsh

The two runners up were; ‘Bo’ness in Winter’ showing a fantastically frozen scene by Charles Colliar and ‘Evening Reflections’ by Gordon Dochard showing a glassy Gartmorn Dam reflecting the evening’s shadows.

                               

Image: 'Bo'ness in Winter' by Charles Colliar                                                                               Image: 'Evening Reflections' by Gordon Dochard

Congratulations to all the winners and special thanks to everyone who took the time to enter their photographs. We will shortly be uploading the shortlisted entries to the Inner Forth Futures gallery. We hope that you will continue to explore the Wanderings and Windings trail and continue to share your adventures with us through social media.

 

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