Access work completed at Abbey Craig

The latest IFLI access paths project was completed last month as the path leading to the summit of Abbey Craig, home to one of the Forth Valley's most iconic structures.

The path bordering the main road up the Wallace Monument has been upgraded - formerly just a desire line worn in the grass, it now runs for 500 metres up the hill, and was constructed from recycled road arisings. Additional work also saw the clearing of drains and culverts around the site to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion to the path.

It's estimated the route is used by over 90,000 people a year, both tourists and locals, and it will soon also be the site of one of the planned IFLI interpretation beacons.


Before and after of the path up to Abbey Craig

IFLI shortlisted for UK citizen science award

IFLI have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for our work to help protect the area's natural heritage through citizen science.

The annual National Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing recognise and celebrate the outstanding people and projects that help us understand our wildlife better. This is because the more we know about what plants and animals are found in an area, where they are, and whether they are increasing or declining, the easier it is to work out the best ways to protect them.

IFLI has been shortlisted for the National Biodiversity Network's (NBN) Lynne Farrell Group Award for Wildlife Recording. Its application included a wide range of work that the Initiative carries out, such as a project called Forth Nature Counts, which encourages local people to record the wildlife on their doorstep. People can get involved in all sorts of ways, from recording the occasional wildlife sighting on a special website called the NBN Gateway, to taking on their own regular survey walk. Volunteers are supported through an extensive programme of free wildlife ID workshops, and IFLI staff are on hand with help and advice, thanks to the way IFLI is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Steve and Linda McKinley, IFLI volunteer Nature Recorders, said: 'We get a buzz from visiting our 'patch', from increasing our knowledge in identifying and recording flora and fauna, from the feeling that we're doing something useful and from witnessing the changes to the landscape through the seasons.'

Other work highlighted includes:

  • Around 10,000 records encompassing over 1,100 species contributed to date.
  • The IFLI team and partner organisations have employed 17 trainees and supported another 58 trainees on employability programmes.
  • As part of the same project there have been formal support and bursaries for Masters dissertation projects with Stirling University (four bursaries have been awarded to date, with a 2017 student undertaking research into ‘The Management Effects of Wildflower Grasslands on Pollinators in Bridgeness, Firth of Forth’ supported by Buglife and IFLI staff).
  • The Future Tides project has provided 41 curriculum for excellence linked outdoor education sessions to nine primary schools and 336 pupils in the landscape.
  • Continuing the sharing of good practice, IFLI has organised a number of conferences and events for land managers on topics such as Invasive Non-native Species, Wildflower Meadow Management, and Habitat Creation.
  • IFLI is a flagship project within the Central Scotland Green Network – one of 14 national planning developments in Scottish Governments’ National Planning Framework 3. It is recognised as delivering on a range of CSGN agendas, and is used as an example of best practice in green network delivery, partnership working and stakeholder engagement. 

Kate Fuller, IFLI's Community Engagement Officer, who manages the project, added “The IFLI partnership is pleased to be shortlisted for this prestigious award that recognises the wealth of work taking place across the Inner Forth landscape to further biological and species knowledge. From our wildlife identification workshops and committed volunteer Nature Recorders, to the work that has been undertaken in primary schools and through paid traineeships, we have been uncovering, sharing and building understanding and pride of the diverse natural heritage of the Inner Forth.”

We were also delighted to hear that of our volunteers, Hugh Tooby, has himself been nominated in the Adult Newcomer Award category. He commented:
'I'm 56 years old and used to be a GP. I left the NHS in 2013 to give myself time to pursue a different career path. I'm a great believer in the benefits of active engagement with the natural world and wanted to do something to support this. My main focus and great passion over the last two years has been citizen science wildlife surveys. This started with the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative in central Scotland where I live but has steadily expanded since to include such initiatives as Capturing our Coast and various British Trust for Ornithology schemes. As a lover of the sea and mountains I'm drawn to doing surveys in these places and I can use a lifetime of skills acquired in wild camping, hill walking, canoeing and mountain biking to support this which will hopefully help to fill in some of the blanks on the data map and increase our understanding of the natural world on which we ultimately all depend.'

The winners of the Awards will be announced on Thursday 16 November at the NBN's annual conference in Cardiff.

Conference to highlight new connections around the Forth

This November the history and wildlife of the Inner Forth will be in the spotlight at an event looking at the many ways organisations and communities have been working together to protect and celebrate them.

IFLI and the Forth Naturalist and Historian (FNH) have partnered up to organise a one-day conference, New Connections for Nature, History and People, at Stirling University on 11 November, aimed at everyone who wants to know more about our landscape.

Back in 2014 IFLI had just begun delivering a four-year programme of projects, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Its vision was of an Inner Forth where local people and visitors value, protect and celebrate this unique landscape at the heart of Scotland. In that year IFLI and FNH worked together on a conference looking at new ways to encourage more people to discover and understand the rich heritage of the Inner Forth.

Since then 50 individual but inter-related projects have worked with local communities, volunteers and other organisations to conserve, enchance and and promote its important natural and historic features for the future. This year's conference will celebrate the achievements of the Initiative, and feature reports on a just a few of these projects. There will be something for everyone, whether you are fascinated by the area's history, or passionate about its wildlife - or hopefully both. Talks include 'The Hunt for a Royal Dockyard at Higgin's Neuk', 'Green Roofs and Meadows', Investigating Zetland Park', and Habitat Restoration at Wester Moss', all presented by a wide range of wildlife and local history experts, organisations and community groups representing the cultural, historic and natural history of the area. And in addition to a full day's programme there will be stalls located in the University Atrium where anyone on campus that day will be able to learn more, and find out how to get involved. 

Both organisations are particularly keen to encourage volunteers involved with IFLI projects to join us, and for students and young people to come along and find out more. Poeple who have volunteered for IFLI projects will receive a concessionary rate of £9, and if you are a student volunteer it will be just £4.50. Student tickets (including under-18s) will cost just £9 for the day. Full price tickets are £18 for the day.

Booking must be done by using the FNH form, which can be found here

For find out more about the conference and for a full list of talks, you can visit our events page, or the FNH website.

The Inner Forth Festival 2017 is here!

Another September full of fantastic free events has been announced, and you can find out all the details below!







Every September IFLI organise the Inner Forth Festival, a month of free events hosted by ourselves and our partners which aims to encourage people to enjoy and celebrate the natural, cultural and built heritage the Inner Forth Landscape offers - and 2017 is no different.

Whatever your age, interests or where you live, we have tried to make sure there is something for everyone this September. All the IFLI events are free to attend, thanks to the way we are funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We are very grateful to the huge range of organisations and volunteers that have made the Festival possible by organising, running and supporting the month's events/ We really couldn't do it without them!

The Festival kicks off, as it has done the past few years, with The Inner Forth From A New Perspective (fully booked, but with a waiting list available), a boat trip from South Queensferry to Kincardine and back again where we'll have a range of heritage experts discussing the work they've done with IFLI across the landscape over the past four years.

Heritage walks will be taking place throughout the month and across the area, including at Culross, Valleyfield, Kennetpans Distillery and Charlestown. Each walk will be led by a local expert, and allow you to explore the historical value of these Inner Forth settlements, and find out the role they played in shaping the history of the River.

The Valleyfield walks will also coincide with an exciting archaeological project which we are undertaking with the Valleyfield Heritage Initiative, AOC Archaeology and Fife Council to uncover the remains of the Estate's stable complex. It's a great opportunity for anyone who wants to try practical archaeological and excavation work.

We will also be continuing our series of popular wildlife ID workshops, where you can learn about Fungi with ecologist Ben Knowles, take part in two Survey Walks around important Inner Forth wildlife sites (Kinneil and Devilla), and go hunting for bats at Stirling University.

There's also a series of events at Black Devon Wetlands, the new RSPB reserve in Alloa. Head down there to learn about the habitats and future plans for the site, take in the views of the Reserve from King's Seat Hill, and bring the family down to explore the array of wildlife that calls the Wetlands home.

There are also a few chances to get creative, as we're holding a writing workshop, two photography and printmaking workshops, and a mini handloom weaving class.

That's just a quick overview of the Festival - check out our events calendar for more information and more events as they are added. We hope you join us this September to celebrate the unique history, wildlife and people of this great part of the world!


Explore the Inner Forth with our new interactive map

IFLI have launched a new online feature which will help you to get out and explore everything that the Inner Forth has to offer.

Our new interactive map gives you an overview of the huge variety of habitats, historical sites, walking routes and IFLI projects which have made the area so special.

Think of it as a hub for Inner Forth information. Using the 'Things to See' box on the upper right-hand side you can toggle different layers on and off to explore your specific interests; or you can zoom in on a specific area to see what is on your doorstep.

Clicking on any of the pointers or shaded areas on the map will give you a pop-up box like the one above, which has a quick intro to the feature, and a link to more information.

Follow the links above and have fun exploring the Inner Forth!