Wetter is better at Wester Moss!

A nature reserve near Fallin is now even better for wildlife thanks to work that has been carried out by Butterfly Conservation Scotland through the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.

If you have visited Butterfly Conservation Scotland’s nature reserve at Wester Moss, near Fallin, recently you will have noticed the surprising sight of a large orange digger in the middle of the bog! It’s not something you expect to see on a nature reserve, but this digger was working very much for the benefit of the wildlife of Wester Moss.

The digger has created a 500m bund that sweeps round the southern edge of the Moss in a large arc. The bund will help to stop water from draining away – and it is water that’s essential to the health of lowland raised bogs like Wester Moss. Butterfly Conservation Scotland hopes that by making the Moss wetter it will encourage more sphagnum mosses, the building blocks of the bog, to grow, and prevent trees and scrub from invading and shading out this vital ingredient of this rare habitat. This in turn will encourage the wildlife that relies on it to flourish, including rare butterflies and moths like large heath butterfly.

The work was co-funded by IFLI, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Ecoco LIFE (funded by the European Community). You can find out more  on IFLI’s website at www.innerforthlandscape.co.uk, and at Butterfly Conservation Scotland's website

Photo courtesy of David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk

Over 1000 people enjoy first Inner Forth Festival

The inaugural Inner Forth Festival came to a close at the end of September, bringing to an end our month long celebration of the fantastic people and magnificent landscape that we have the privilege of living among. It was a hectic few weeks but also immensely enjoyable, with a huge range of events showcasing what the area has to offer and just why it’s so special. From the amazing launch event, cruising up the river on the Maid of the Forth, to the spectacular surroundings of Culross Palace where we brought the  festival to a close searching for bats amidst the buildings of the historic town.

The festival was a mix of practical hands-on experiences, talks, walks, conferences and training events, which focused on the natural world, history, heritage and culture. There was something for every age group and every ability level, whether you were a budding naturalist out for a bug hunt, a walker or cyclist enjoying your first jaunt around a new area, or a seasoned expert discussing meadow creation or the best way to interpret ancient artefacts.

Of course it’s not a proper festival if you come home clean, so there were also plenty of chances for people to get their hands dirty with RSPB conservation volunteering, scrub bashing at Kinneil Lagoons, a beach clean, and a range of options to try your hand at archaeological research techniques – something 196 volunteers and 280 schoolchildren did during the two week dig at Cambuskenneth Abbey.

Overall, over 1000 people attended the 27 events we included in our promotional leaflet, impressive numbers for a newborn festival!


Photo David Palmar/www.photoscot.co.uk 

Half-term adventures at Alloa’s new nature reserve

Looking for something to do over the school half term? How about a wildlife adventure, or a sunset stroll, at the RSPB’s newest nature reserve, our very own Black Devon Wetlands? On 13 and 15 October IFLI and RSPB Scotland will be leading two free events - a family wildlife adventure packed with children’s games and activities, and a guided evening wildlife walk to discover some of the birds and other animals that venture out at dusk.

 The free Family Wildlife Adventure will begin at 10am and run until midday on Tuesday 13 October. There will be lots of games and activities to keep children amused and encourage them to enjoy the wonderful nature on their doorstep. The free Evening Wildlife Walk will focus on looking for some of the wildlife species which are part of making this such a special place for nature, many of which are much more easily spotted in the evening. It will take place between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Thursday 15 October. For both events people should meet at the small car park on the junction of Bowhouse Road and Riverside View in Alloa.

The RSPB’s David Anderson, who will be leading the events commented “It is so exciting to introduce new people to the wildlife at RSPB’s newest reserve at Black Devon Wetlands. As part of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative we will be working to improve this site for wildlife and people over the next few years, and these walks will highlight the fantastic wildlife people can experience right on their doorstep.”

These events are free thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the National Lottery.  No previous knowledge or equipment is necessary though please dress for the weather and wear sensible shoes or wellies for walking on wet, muddy paths. A torch on the evening walk may be handy. Booking is advisable as places are limited.  Contact Sue Walker, 01324 831568, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information and to book your place.

These events are part of a suite of activities that will be organised over the next three years as part of IFLI’s Like the Back of My Hand project.  The project aims to reconnect people with some of the special places that are sometimes overlooked within the Inner Forth, and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the National Lottery.

Image copyright Andy Hay www.rspb-images.com

First IFLI Inner Forth Festival is coming!

This September the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) is launching the first ever IFLI Inner Forth Festival – a celebration of this fantastic landscape. Whatever you love about the Inner Forth – the history, the wildlife, the people,  there will be something for everyone to enjoy in its month-long programme of free events.

This is the first time ever that a Festival has been held all around the Forth from Blackness to Stirling on the south shore, and back along the north shore of the Forth to Limekilns, in Fife. It will bring together communities from both banks of the river, showcasing the many things they share - in particular a pride in this unique landscape.

In all, a massive twenty-seven free events are planned, with something happening on nearly every day, and in all four local authority areas that border the Inner Forth – Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Fife. The festival has been made possible with the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage and IFLI’s eight project partners.  

Activities will include:

  • A cruise on the Maid of the Forth to see IFLI’s projects from a new perspective
  • A 100-strong conference on wildflower meadows
  • A two-week archaeological dig at Cambuskenneth in Stirling
  • Arty adventures at Clackmannan Tower
  • Bat hunts in Polmont Woods and Culross
  • A birding bike ride from Alloa to Falkirk
  • Healthy walks for all abilities
  • Fascinating exhibitions and talks
  • A rare chance to climb the ancient towers at Cambuskenneth and Clackmannan
  • Wildlife ID workshops.
  • Practical conservation work days

Commenting on the Festival, Kate Studd, IFLI’s Programme Manager, said: ‘A key part of IFLI’s role is to help reconnect local people with the fantastic landscape on their doorstep, and to encourage visitors from outside the inner Forth to come and find out what a great area it really is. Whatever their age, wherever they live, and whether they are interested in history, wildlife, or just like getting out and about, we have tried to make sure there is something for people to enjoy. And because of the way that IFLI is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund all the events are free!’

IFLI’s recently appointed Artist-in-Residence, Darren Woodhead, will also be capturing some of the many facets of the Inner Forth landscape throughout the Festival, and will be engaging with people through his art at a number of the events.

IFLI is a partnership of eight different organisations, and also works with many other charities, community groups and volunteers. In all, 15 different organisations have been involved in the planning of the Festival, working closely with IFLI to deliver this wide-ranging programme of events. Details of all the events and how to book are listed on this website at www.innerforthlandscape.co.uk/eventscal .  A festival leaflet will be available from early August in libraries, community centres, museums and many other outlets. Festival news and updates will also appear regularly on IFLI’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Welcome to our very first IFLI Artist-in-Residence!


Artist Darren Woodhead, who recently appeared on the BBC’s Springwatch,  Autumnwatch and Winterwatch as Artist-in-Residence, is now turning his eyes to the Inner Forth. He is to become IFLI's very first Artist-in-Residence for the coming year, aiming to inspire more people to value and celebrate this unique natural and historic landscape through his stunning paintings. Darren will also be working with local communities through a series of interactive events, to help change perceptions of this sometimes undervalued part of the world.

Commenting on the appointment, Darren said: ‘I have worked for many years along the mouth of the Forth, so to be invited to work higher up in the estuary I find exciting. The combination of a wealth of fauna and flora within a significant historical and industrial setting I find intriguing, with so many possibilities for painting and inspiration. I look forward to the challenges ahead, pushing the way I work and capturing a sense of place.

Sue Walker, IFLI’s Communications Officer, added: ‘We are absolutely delighted that Darren will be our Artist-in-Residence. He paints directly from life, working outdoors in all conditions, so that the weather becomes part of the artwork. His paintings seem to capture the essence of a place in just a few brushstrokes. The Inner Forth is a complex landscape, with spectacular flocks of waders and wildfowl feeding against a backdrop of steel towers and chimneys, and ancient castles gazing down on factories and warehouses. Sadly many people only see the industry and commerce, while the area’s rich natural, cultural and historic heritage is often overlooked or neglected. Darren’s work as Artist-in-Residence will really help us to turn these perceptions around.’

Before becoming IFLI Artist-in-Residence, Darren Woodhead appeared on the BBC’s Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch as their Artist-in-Residence. He has been a professional artist for many years, is a graduate of The Royal College of Art, and has had his work published in a number of books, with two solo titles; ‘From Dawn til Dusk’ and ‘Up River, The Song of the Esk’. He also lectures and runs drawing and painting courses both nationally and internationally. He lives in East Lothian with his family. You can find out more about him, and view some of his work, at http://www.darrenwoodhead.com.

Darren will be visiting IFLI sites all around the Forth, so if you see him at work there when you're out and about please do stop and say hello. He will also be involved in a number of events in the coming months, so keep a lookout for news of when and where on our events calendar and in our enewsletter.