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Nature at a distance

We’ve been working from home this week and for much of the Cumbernauld Living Landscape team this has been quite a culture shock. We’re used to engaging with the local community, meeting people, leading groups to make contact with nature, and inspiring young people to discuss what matters to them when it comes to greenspaces. Unfortunately, our work with schools, Wild Ways Well groups and Nature Ninja volunteering groups are now cancelled until further notice to keep our volunteers, local community and staff members safe.   How can we carry out these activities at a distance? Over the next few weeks we’ll be starting to work a bit differently, and we’ll be showing people what they can do to connect with nature at home through social media.   More time at home has its benefits. In my garden, I’ve been starting to prepare the ground for wildflowers. In the years before I had a garden, I would sow cornflower seeds and ox-eye daisies in flower pots – window boxes work just as well! After I get my rake and shovel,

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Coronavirus update

An update on Cumbernauld Living Landscape activity during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak   We couldn’t achieve the outcomes of Cumbernauld Living Landscape without the support of the people who engage with our groups, and your health and safety is of utmost importance to us. Following the latest advice from the Scottish Government, we have taken the unfortunate decision to cancel our group and events activity until further notice. This includes our Wild Ways Well groups, our Nature Ninja volunteering groups and the work that we deliver to schools. If you need to get in touch with us about these cancellations, please contact us on CumbernauldLL@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk. We will also have very limited access to our office landline so please contact on us on 07918 748608 if you cannot contact us via email. We hope it won’t be long before we can be back out in the community, supporting people to connect with nature but until then we’ll be doing things a bit differently. Keep a regular eye on our social media and website pages – we’ll be posting a variety of

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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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New meadow proposal at Cumbernauld Community Park

“People and wildlife at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future” is our vision at Cumbernauld Living Landscape, so it’s important that wherever possible improvements we make to the town’s habitats also provide opportunities for locals to connect with nature. This year we have some exciting plans for Cumbernauld Community Park, and we want you to be involved. In partnership with Friends of Cumbernauld Community Park, we’re holding two information sessions to gather thoughts and opinions on a proposed wildflower meadow and a meadow of unharvested oats. The wildflower meadow will not only bring colour to the park in summer, it will also become the latest addition to Cumbernauld’s “Nectar Network”, creating a new food supply for pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and moths. Unharvested oats hark back to the area’s agricultural past, and while they may not be feeding us humans, they’ll provide a feast for farmland birds such as skylarks, fieldfares and redwings. The two meadows have the potential to create some fantastic wildlife-watching experiences. In previous consultations, over 40% of respondents wanted more things to do in the

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A stroll with the snowdrops

Hope’s Flower, Eve’s Tears, the beautiful Fair Maids of February, the portentous Death Bell or maybe even just simple Dingle Dangles. Whatever you call them, snowdrops have arrived in Cumbernauld’s woods. Legend says that snowdrops were the only flower kind enough to share their colour with the newly made snow and thus became the only flower able to grow amongst it, allowing them to capture people’s hearts as the harbinger of spring.  Snowdrops aren’t native to Scotland, they probably arrived here in the 16th century, but they aren’t regarded as invasive due to their slow spreading habits and their value as an early nectar source. They are perfectly adapted to the cold, able to protect their delicate flowers and survive in the harshest conditions.  Although we may be most familiar with Galanthus nivalis, the common form of snowdrop, there are actually more than 20 species and more than 2000 cultivated varieties. ‘Galanthophiles’, those who collect the flowers, will pay big money for a new type – one single rare bulb once changed hands for £1390! This trade may be part of the reason why snowdrops are

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NEWS: New boardwalk improves access to nature at St. Maurice’s Pond

A new boardwalk has been installed at St. Maurice’s Pond, improving the site’s accessibility and helping visitors get closer to nature. Installed by North Lanarkshire Council in partnership with Cumbernauld Living Landscape, it replaces the previous boardwalk which was no longer fit for purpose. The new boardwalk is wider with more subtle bends and a smoother anti-slip surface, making it easier to move across with a wheelchair, pram or bicycle. Its positioning has also been adjusted to provide local school groups with better access to ideal spots for pond-dipping and wildlife-watching. The connecting footpath was also upgraded to further improve accessibility on the pond’s popular circular route, in addition to a section of nearby Netherwood Way, which connects St. Maurice’s Pond with homes in the Westfield area. Fiona McGrevey, Cumbernauld Living Landscape Project Manager said: “St. Maurice’s Pond is a fantastic place for connecting with nature. Swans, ducks and herons patrol the pond year-round, and in summer the boardwalk comes alive with bees, butterflies and dragonflies. “Everyone should be able to enjoy the nature on their doorstep. By improving access

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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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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