A tree planting session at Broadwood Loch, 2019. Pic by Gill Hatcher.

It is a bittersweet time here at Creating Natural Connections, with us saying farewell to The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) team as the project delivery ends. It still amazes me that it has been 5 years since beginning this project with consultations and events during the development phase to create a project that was driven by the public.

Four years later and we have completed our school sessions connecting 1291 young people to nature in primary, high, and additional support schools – as well as connecting with young school leavers through North Lanarkshire’s Active Leisure. We have also trained 125 teachers and group leaders in taking education outside for outdoor learning, and they loved it.

An amazing 150 Nature Ninja volunteers have devoted 960 hours of time from their days to make a difference and, believe me, they really have! The tasks over the years have complemented the major habitat and access works beautifully. The passion for conservation is apparent in every task they have done and the most favourite task, well it was scything, of course.

With Wild Ways Well, we saw 284 people attending sessions to improve their wellbeing and physical health. TCV have gained funding to continue delivering Wild Ways Well after the close of Creating Natural Connections, these sessions will reach further than Cumbernauld. If you are interested in joining Wild Ways Well, please get in touch with Aimée at aimee.moretti@tcv.org.uk

We have transformed 230 hectares of woodland for nature. A hectare is the same size of an international football pitch, so that is a lot of pitches! We have planted over 13,000 trees and 250 metres of hedgerow, installed 3 wildlife ponds, and restored 3 urban peat bogs. We have built raptor platforms, provided dead hedging for invertebrates and made bird boxes. We have also upgraded path networks around the town to help connect people and wildlife.

But… I have to say that the highlight, from my own personal point of view, is the meadow management at St Maurice’s pond. I love that site; I used to visit it with my wee gran and our dog back in the 70s, it is a place that has fond memories for me. I go for a walk there now and my heart is full, the meadow is simply stunning, it is full of life. Toads and mice shelter in the grasses. Butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, damselflies and dragonflies all use the site.

That is all down to people creating change, from the lottery player buying their ticket, to the Project Officer leading sessions, connecting people to nature and everything in between. There are so many people involved that is seems impossible to be able to thank them all, but here goes – Thank you, each and every one of you, for being that change our habitats and wildlife and people need, you make a difference every day!

Tracy Lambert