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Planting plastic

Planting trees is a rewarding experience, something we’re all being encouraged to do to help tackle the climate crisis and boost biodiversity in our local greenspaces. But the work doesn’t stop there if we want these trees to develop into healthy woodlands. Last week our Nature Ninjas volunteers were out collecting old tree guards in Glencryan Wood – not the most exciting activity, but important nonetheless! Tree guards are often used when planting new saplings, you’ve probably seen clusters of pale green tubes emerging from the ground alongside a new road or at a forestry plantation site. The guards help support the young tree in its earliest days, protecting it from the elements and, crucially, hungry deer, which can rapidly chomp their way through a new woodland before it’s even had the chance to grow. However, tree guards aren’t without problems. They can attract vandalism, and they’re usually made of plastic. By planting trees we may think we’re doing a good thing, but without planning ahead we could also be contributing to plastic pollution. So what are the alternatives? In

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Creating early connections with nature

Firstly I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Gemma Woodford and I’ve recently started working with Cumbernauld Living Landscape as the Creating Natural Connections learning assistant. I’ll be going into primary schools throughout Cumbernauld to run environmental workshops and activities with children in classes 5-7, with the workshops running throughout term time. In previous years it was thought that education could only be provided if you were in the four walls of a classroom. Now, it’s becoming evident that children can gain all the necessary skills and knowledge set by the curriculum for excellence whilst being outdoors. Our aim at Cumbernauld Living Landscape is to connect children with nature through outdoor learning, and feel not only is it important that children learn about their natural heritage, but that spending time outdoors helps to improve their health and wellbeing. Research has shown that even just 5 minutes of playing outdoors can decrease a child’s stress and anxiety. With a clearer mind, and calmer approach this could then improve the child’s abilities in other classes. Outside of school, children may not

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A new ancient tradition

We don’t just work to protect greenspaces here at Cumbernauld Living Landscape, we also try to engage with them at a human level, and preserve some of the ways our ancestors would have interacted with the woodlands. Recently the Wild Ways Well group went “Wassailing”. This is an ancient tradition that people believed helped woodlands to come back to life after a long hard winter. Wassailing traditions vary across the country so we developed our own Cumbernauld version that we hope might become a local tradition! We walked through Luggiebank Wildlife Reserve and read an extract from David Gray’s poem “The Luggie”. Once we reached the apple trees we toasted bread and made a bowl of hot apple mead, and toasted each other. We then chose an Apple Queen to lead the rest of the festivities. We scattered the toast into the treetops and poured apple mead into the tree roots while reciting some old Wassailing rhymes. We then walked round the trees banging pots and pans together to ensure the Apple Tree Man heard us and awoke from his

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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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Visit your tree at Broadwood

If you took part in our tree planting day at Broadwood Loch in December you had the option to download an app and locate the exact grid reference for your tree. This means you’ll be able to chart your tree’s progress as it develops and matures, hopefully for many years to come! It will be fascinating to see how the landscape changes, and the wildlife it will bring to the area. If you left your grid reference behind for us to record we’ve added it to the map below.  

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Winter Blues

As I write this I’m huddled over a steaming mug of tea, wearing my warmest jumper and waiting for the forecast sleet to start falling outside. I console myself with the thought that, though it might not feel like it, spring is on the way. It probably hasn’t escaped long-term readers of these blogs that I’m no fan of winter! I’m not always right though— Aristotle said that “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” And for John Steinbeck “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Get outdoors and go looking and it won’t take you long to spot the signs of nature coming back to life. The trees are already full of bud and the tips of the first bulbs are poking through the ground, ready to bring us snowdrops and daffodils, with primroses not far behind. Robins and blackbirds are singing already at dawn, eager for the spring to come, and it won’t be long before we start to notice

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Biodiversity and climate change

Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked to each other. Sadly, the link is not a good one. For humans, climate change means stronger and more frequent extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increased risk from “vector-borne” diseases such as Zika virus and malaria. For nature the greatest issue, ultimately, is extinction. We are already seeing species being forced out of their natural ranges; year-on-year orange-tip butterflies and tree bumblebees range further north due to a warming climate. These two examples are just the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg. Species that already struggle with habitat loss or degradation are now also competing for food with those that can range outwith their normal territories. Many species are being affected as their lifecycles are changing, with many animals emerging outside the timing of their only food source. Those that can’t travel outwith their normal ranges are dying, as they cannot adapt quick enough. Around the world we are seeing extinction on a scale that has never been seen before. We can change that and give nature a hand. We can

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Get back to nature in 2020

Taking our volunteers out at New Year always resonates strongly with me— I first started volunteering at New Year. So woooooOOooooOOOo, I want to take you back 8 years to 2012. I was completing my zoology dissertation. It was very boring! I felt like most of the time I had been cooped up inside doing calculations, tallying up surveys, reading screeds upon screeds of papers and typing up draft after draft to try and get my point across. My fieldwork the previous summer seemed long ago, itself so enjoyable— getting out into nature, experiencing all it could throw at me. As preposterous as it sounds, I felt locked out from nature. I came across a leaflet asking for volunteers to rewild a community space. I did not give it much thought at first until it dawned that, to paraphrase an old John Muir quote “I needed to get back into nature”. I gave it a chance! I was anxious meeting the volunteers at first; there must be something wrong with them if they wanted to go out in atrocious winter

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Natural New Year

No one could fail to notice the waning of the light as the winter begins to bite and the days get ever shorter. It’s little wonder that winter is associated with depression – and that midwinter, when the sun begins to climb higher into the sky again each day became a time of celebration, reflection and renewal. The natural world has always been a vital part of this renewal. Many evergreen plants like holly and ivy were loved for their bright colours and fresh smell which brought cheer throughout the winter. An old belief was that the sharp spines of holly leaves could act as a ‘fairy trap’ preventing evil spirits from entering the home, and we still use it to make Christmas wreaths to hang by the front door. In some places it was traditional for communities to extinguish their hearth fire at solstice time and then to relight it with a burning yew log, brought to each house from a communal village fire. Yew trees were powerful symbols of renewal, love and hope. The modern chocolate ‘yule log’

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Getting stuck in for nature

Last Thursday as many as 300 people joined Cumbernauld Living Landscape at Broadwood Loch to grab a spade and plant a tree before enjoying some festive treats round the campfire.   With it being polling day we had a steady flow of children looking for something active to do on their day off from school, and plenty of adults looking for something positive to do while anxiously awaiting the results! The previous day pupils at Carbrain Primary had set the ball rolling by planting 165 trees in their school grounds.  There’s been a lot of talk of trees in the national news recently, with political parties competing in their pledges to create new woodlands that will help tackle the climate crisis. In response, conservationists have pointed out that numbers are not enough – it’s crucial that the right trees are planted in the right places.   As a community we planted 600 trees in total, including crab apple, willow, oak and hazel. These species are all native to the area, which means that as they grow the new woodland will provide homes for the widest possible