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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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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

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Cumbernauld Conversations

Cumbernauld Living Landscape is coming to a venue near you! We are coming out into communities to talk to you about your local greenspaces. We want to find the community champions: the people who are looking after these places in unforeseen ways. They could be members of the public doing a weekly litter-pick down the park, they could be an informal club that uses the greenspace for an exercise class or they could be a retired teacher who tells amazing stories about the fascinating heritage of our breathtaking nature reserves. Since starting in this position a month ago I have had the privilege to meet so many amazing individuals and community groups working tirelessly to connect the people in their communities with the natural world at their disposal. At the Living Landscape one of our main goals is to “unlock” this community capacity to create even more connections with nature, using Cumbernauld’s greenspaces as the connector. So how are we going to do this? Well to start, over the next few weeks we’ll be popping up in and around places

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What can we do about rubbish?

Litter. Everyone hates it, and yet it remains one of our biggest environmental problems. From the cigarette ends and dog poo bags to fly-tipped furniture, it seems like litter is everywhere in our woodlands, parks and streams. No doubt you’ll have heard aware of the waste epidemic in ours sea, but did you know that an estimated 80% of this marine litter is a result of irresponsible disposal on land? So, who is responsible and more importantly who should be cleaning it up? Well to be honest we all are, and we all should! It takes a few seconds to make a difference by pick some litter up and binning it or taking it home. We often get comments that we should do more to clean up our local reserves. What people don’t realise at times is that charities such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust only have limited resources. This has to go towards on the ground conservation work, from planting trees to working on important projects like reintroducing the beaver. We do what we can to deal with fly-tipping and

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Funding boost for Creating Natural Connections

As you might recall we were on tenterhooks during December, waiting to hear about the funding from Heritage Lottery Fund for our new initiative, Creating Natural Connections. This is a very exciting four-year project that will lead to huge improvements to our green spaces and connect even more people to nature. It has been a tense couple of months and our nails have been bitten down to the quick. It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that we have been successful in gaining the funding, and that you are going to be hearing much more about Creating Natural Connections over the next four years. To celebrate we have invited people who have been involved with the Cumbernauld Living Landscape since its launch in 2011 to an event tonight at Kingdom City Church. This our small way of saying thank you for having faith in us and for being willing to try something out of the ordinary, but mostly for supporting us and the work we do. Without valued funding, the dedication from our partners, the support of

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Investing in young people, today

Word has been going around the campfire about the great work Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been doing with young people of the town. So much so that we were invited to an event called Investing in Young People; Investing in our Environment by the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. I invited the Achieve students from Greenfaulds High School to come along and we decided to make a day of it with a wee tour of Edinburgh.  We visited Johnston Terrace Garden, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s smallest wildlife reserve, which is hidden away deep in the heart of the Old Town. We learned all about the garden and how important these spaces can be for wildlife and people. We also had a wander down to the Christmas market on Princes Street to see how large spaces can be used for spectacular public events. Needless to say, the funfair grabbed their attention more than my explanation of how parks can be used in lots of different ways to benefit people. I can’t blame them, it was a wonderfully chilly and festive afternoon. We

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Taking time to breathe – how grounding can help combat anxiety

While we are waiting to hear whether Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s planned new project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, I have been visiting high schools to maintain and build relationships to allow a smooth transition for the new project. Each week I test new ideas which we plan to use in future workshops, and each week I have seen an alarming rise in the number of students having panic attacks on a regular basis. This got me thinking about techniques I could share with students who could then share with family and friends or even use for themselves to combat these episodes, Inspired by the Wild Ways Well project I came across a technique called grounding. This helps people to slow down, distracts from the immediate feelings of anxiety and panic, and helps them gain focus. I also suffer from anxiety at times and I find it best to use this technique outside in fresh air, a woodland works for me as I find that habitat is my safe space and that I like to think of myself

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The gully’s on Google

Thanks to the efforts of a local volunteer Cabrain gully can now be explored in Google Maps. Until recently many of the footpaths in Cumbernauld have not been visible on any of the online mapping websites. This means that it looks like there is nowhere to walk and you have to drive everywhere. Anyone who has spent at least 5 minutes exploring Cumbernauld will know this is not true. There are lots of paths that can link you to where you want to go, the challenge can just be finding them! This has just been made a bit easier with the help of Google’s street view  technology. A local volunteer has used a 360 degree camera to create his own street view of the gully and the greener parts of his neighbourhood. This has now been published to Google and can be explored below.

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Bugworts arrives at St Maurice’s Pond

This Saturday sees the first ever visit from Bugworts Academy of Witches, Warlocks and Wacky Wildlife and we are soooooo excited.  The tickets have been snapped up quicker than you can say Sellius Oootius with additional slots being added due to demand. Potential students and families will begin their visit to Prof. Mini Bugonnagal Hunter’s office for registration before exploring the academy’s grounds. The thought of magic academy may be daunting, so we have a variety of activities including shadow photography where families can take snaps of their wee ones being very scary with a number of props. We have a crackin’ wee story in the woodlands to set everyone up before they walk on the rickety, crickety boardwalk (it’s not, I’m using theatrical license here) and we will end the evening with Dragonflying lessons on the scorched grounds.  You never know there may be a few things that we add to spice things up a bit. Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s aim is to get people outside enjoying their parks and woodlands even if that is at unusual times of the

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Bugworts comes to St Maurice’s Pond this Hallowe’en

Recently Alba Scoticus, headteacher of Bugworts Academy of Witches, Warlocks and Wacky Wildlife, got in touch and asked if we would like to host an event at North Lanarkshire Council’s St Maurice’s Pond this year as there is a magical connection to the water and woodlands of the site. Well we jumped at the chance! For the past few years we have held our Hallowe’en event in Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve but this year we felt it was time for a change of scene. Our Hallowe’en event is a family friendly night time self-led walk. Having the chance to see our parks and woodlands in a different light is quite exciting. During the event there will be lots of different stations with fun activities to break up your walk. You might even see or hear the bats that skim the insects off the top of the pond. We will have a leader with a bat detector on the night. Please note booking is essential for the event. We have earlier time slots for younger children – great for little ones