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Window wildlife-watching

Nestled in the middle of an industrial estate, I’m always amazed by how much wildlife there is to see from the Cumbernauld Living Landscape office window. As I type, I’m watching two male bullfinches potter about, their orange-pink bibs unmistakeable against the open green grass. I’ve seen flurries of visiting redwings, prancing young roe deer; and there’s always robins, starlings and blackbirds coming and going throughout the year. A couple of days ago there was bit of a commotion taking place on the roof above my head. A familiar sound, but I couldn’t quite place it…suddenly an oystercatcher appeared out of nowhere, being swiftly chased off by a less-than-impressed gull. It was a welcome distraction from emails and report-writing! Research has consistently shown that spending time in our local greenspaces – exercising, breathing fresh air and connecting with nature— is hugely beneficial to our health and wellbeing. Cumbernauld Living Landscape is committed to helping as many people as possible access the nature around them, whether through our path improvement projects, inclusive events and volunteering or Wild Ways Well sessions. But

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A bug’s eye view of volunteering

We were marching through the woods. The sun bursting through the trees, the cold air sucked into our lungs. My volunteers had entered a new area of Cumbernauld Glen; unveiled before their eyes. In this space they saw what first appeared to be a void; the last vestiges of winter still clinging onto the forest. I prompted them to take a closer look. Spring had already sprung! Snowdrops erupting through the soil with crocuses not far behind, painting a dash of colour across the woodland floor. We investigated the glare of the light and saw a goldfinch dart across. We cupped our ears upward to hear a cacophony of bullfinches, coal tits and robins singing their song. As our eyes slalomed down the trunk of the imperious Scots pine, we saw its delicate tangerine hues embellished by the light. My feet crunched the beech seed casings below my feet.  My volunteers were startled as their feet also crunched these fuzzy little casings. I told them the story of one of our previous Project Officers, who liked munching away on these

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Crafty by Nature

I have always been interested in arts and crafts, and have dabbled in many, sometimes costly mediums to find one that would stick. As the saying goes Jack of all trades – master of none. It was during the height of the Australian bush fires when a post on Facebook caught my eye. Wildlife organisations were calling out for knitted, crocheted and sewn items for wildlife injured by the fires. I quickly bought some yarn, my second ever crochet hook (first one was given away as I couldn’t get to grips with it), and followed a YouTube video on how to make a nest. I’m now hooked and churning out flowers and toys for my dogs, but what has all this got to do with my job? Well I jokingly made a reference to creating a crocheted wildflower meadow and our Project Manager said go for it. And now you can join in! We’re going to work with groups and individuals to create crocheted wildflowers native to Scotland as a tool to connect people to nature. This will run parallel

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A wild year ahead

It’s hard to believe that we’re more than halfway through January already! Here at Cumbernauld Living Landscape it’s full steam ahead as we continue to work towards our vision of putting both people and wildlife at the heart of our town’s future. We’ve got lots of exciting projects coming up in the next 12 months, many of which you could get involved with. Our Wild Ways Well Thursday sessions started back last week, open to anyone looking to improve their mental wellbeing by spending more time outdoors. For people who like to get their hands dirty, our Nature Ninjas volunteers have been out planting trees at Glencryan Wood, and will be carrying out a variety of conservation activities throughout the year. Our education team are busy connecting with local schools, organising workshops and programmes that will connect young people with nature through fun and engaging activities based on natural heritage. Our habitats work will include a continuation of our ‘Nectar Networks’ projects, creating more homes for pollinating insects and improving biodiversity in the town. We’ll be working with partner organisations

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Tree planting day

I love planting trees! There is little as satisfying as rooting a tree, taking a step back and imagining its future. How many years will it stay up for? What challenges will it face? What animals might call it home? When you plant trees, it feels like you’re planting a legacy. It’s your tree, and you want to look after it! Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s tree planting day at Broadwood will be a fantastic chance to have a lasting impact on your local greenspaces. It will also be a great chance to learn more about the trees that are being planted there. I get quite nerdy when it comes to tree species! I see each species of tree as having its own personality; its own quirks. Here’s some of the trees we’ll be planting: Sessile oaks are welcoming trees often considered the ‘father of the forest’. They can be home to over 300 animals, more than any other tree! Silver birch is an incandescent white tree, often considered a sign of purity. Often the first tree to emerge on virgin land,

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Out of the office and into nature!

Our volunteer groups have been getting out and about in Cumbernauld, dabbling in all sorts of practical conservation activities: scything meadows, removing nasty invasive plants and shortly we’ll be planting native saplings too. Our volunteers love being outdoors and the pull to nature is one of the top reasons they give us their time. We want to extend this feeling to local communities and businesses, and we seem to have done just that with our recent corporate volunteer groups from Scottish Power. We have been taking groups of Scottish Power employees out of their workspaces and into the outdoors for the day; helping us tackle some large-scale tasks. Our first group came out to Ravenswood, where they helped clean up the local school’s outdoor play area by removing bags of litter – 12 in total! The group also helped in the ongoing battle against birch regeneration on the Ravenswood bog. These birch trees sook all the water out of the bog – drying it out and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Our volunteers managed to fell a lot of the

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Hallow”scream” in the Glen

It’s that time of year when the nights draw in and the veil between worlds thins. Aos Sí or fairies from the otherworld get to visit for one night only, and this year we’re inviting them to our Halloween event at Cumbernauld Glen on Thursday 31st October. Tickets sold out incredibly fast, so congratulations if you are one of the 250 people who managed to secure a place. This is a departure from our normal weekend events, but as well as the activities and spooky stories it’s a great opportunity to see one of Cumbernauld’s best greenspaces in a new light (or very little light!). We’re usually encouraged to avoid walking through the woods at night, but the experience can be magical in the right context. Halloween is believed to be taken from Samhain, the ancient Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvesting season and the beginning of winter. A place was set at the table for the return of the souls of loved ones seeking hospitality offerings. Food and drink were put out for the Aos Sí who needed

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Discover Autumn Connections

Autumn is always a wonderful time to explore the outdoors.The air is crisp and sharp, the leaves are changing hue and our wildlife is winding down for the year. It’s a time of change when nature’s energies are drawn back to store for the coming winter. In some cases, wildlife is finding places to sleep or develop over winter. While no animal in the UK truly hibernates, some do love a good snooze. For us however the changing seasons mark a different path. For many, the darker nights and change in nature are thought of negatively. With reduced sunlight hours we feel sluggish, blue and sometimes we just can’t be bothered. That’s all natural, it’s perfectly normal that our bodies and mind processes slow down, we too are trying to conserve energy for the coming winter. Us humans tend to think in the short term. Technological advances have made life easier for us in many ways and it has become an constant repeat of now, now, now! But maybe we need to listen to our inner nature’s call and accept

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No Planet B

“Climate action now!” “I’m only wee, leave some Earth for me” “There is no Planet B” On Friday 20th September the Cumbernauld Living Landscape team were proud to join the thousands of children and adults who marched to Glasgow’s George Square as part of the global Climate Strike. It might seem odd to join a climate strike when you work for an environmental organisation, but we knew that we had to add our voices to those of the young people who are leading this inspiring movement. Started by 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, in the past year there have been hundreds of school climate strikes across the globe. The world’s youth are demanding that decision-makers take bolder steps towards tackling the climate crisis and ending the catastrophic biodiversity loss that the world is currently facing. Greta may be the face of the movement but there are countless others taking action alongside her, including here in Scotland. Greta may be the face of the movement but there are countless others taking action alongside her, including here in Scotland. The Natural Connections

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Broadleaves for Broadwood

You might have already seen on social media that some exciting work is about to begin at Broadwood Loch. Our partners – North Lanarkshire Council – will be carrying out forestry work over the next few weeks. This work is part of a larger programme of woodland improvements within Cumbernauld. This part of Cumbernauld Living Landscape is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Scottish Forestry’s Woodland in and Around Towns fund. The works will include clear felling and thinning areas of dense non-native conifers which have little value for wildlife and stop light reaching the forest floor, meaning wildflowers and shrubs can’t grow. These mature trees are also particularly susceptible to being damaged by storms Clear felling has a very immediate impact on the landscape but we’ll be replacing the conifers with over nearly 4,000 native broadleaf trees including oak, rowan, hazel and birch to create a mosaic of woodlands. As that develops, and surprisingly quicky, we’ll start to see much more wildlife in the woodland. Broadwood Loch will also be a much brighter and easier space for