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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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We are recruiting!

Learning Assistant – Creating Natural Connections Project Title: Learning Assistant – Creating Natural Connections Project Status: Part-time, 12 months fixed term Salary: £18,127 pro rata (32 days per annum) Location: Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire Closing date: 12 noon, 4th October 2019 Since 2011, the Cumbernauld Living Landscape partnership has been enhancing, restoring and reconnecting green areas of the town to improve the environment for both people and wildlife. This award-winning partnership is now entering a new phase and needs a Learning Assistant to support its environmental education within local primary schools We are looking for the successful candidate to have the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to motivate, influence and encourage local school children to take a hands-on approach linking in with the major habitats and access works where appropriate, and to improve their school grounds for nature and people alike. Applicants should be educated to HNC/D in a related subject, or have equivalent experience, and hold a first aid certificate or be willing to gain this qualification.  You should also be an excellent organiser and natural communicator with a keen interest

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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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Where has the summer gone?

Over the summer I’ve had the pleasure of working with around 60 children transitioning from Primary 7 to first year through the brilliant Home School Partnership Officers (worth their weight in gold) at Greenfaulds and St Maurice’s High. The children were out pond dipping, insect hunting, scavenger hunting and making smores or tea in nature reserves in the town, and they loved it. I hope to extend this to the two other high schools in the town next year!   It got me thinking back to when I was just starting high school: the thoughts and feelings that were rushing through my head at the time, and how I learned to cope with it all. With schools starting back this week the students are getting ready for more than just education. For many it is a time of making new friendships. Some will last a lifetime, others fleeting but it is these experiences which shape them up to become the adults of the future. It’s a time for getting lost in new surroundings, learning how to map out the school

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Five reasons to volunteer in nature

With summer in the air and thunderstorms crashing about I thought that this would be a good time to introduce myself. I’m David, the new Project Officer with Cumbernauld Living Landscape! My job is to run volunteering activities that will improve green spaces across the town. I have a massive announcement…   Weekly volunteering groups will be starting at the beginning of September!   The groups will run every Tuesday and Thursday, starting from 3 September. Volunteers can sign up for one or two days a week depending on their preference. So why should you volunteer with Cumbernauld Living Landscape? With us you can develop your skills and enhance your employability while improving your local green spaces, experience working in a motivated and passionate team and get fit all at the same time! I’ve already had an amazing experience volunteering this week. We were out at St Maurice’s Pond, cutting back the encroaching vegetation with some HUGE scythes, allowing the public to walk freely along the paths. We also picked up a lot of broken glass at the back of

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30 days of wild Cumbernauld

The Wildlife Trust runs an annual event over the month of June connecting people to nature every day under the name #30DaysWild. Tasks range from reading poetry in the garden to planting trees or flowers for pollinators. A massive number of organisations join us in connecting with and exploring nature. The Cumbernauld Living Landscape team thought we would add our own twist to an old favourite. In past years we have focused on wildlife, showing different species that you can easily find in your gardens, parks and woodlands. From tiny insect pollinators to deer grazing on the grasslands, there has always been something to see. This year we tried something different. Our new Creating Natural Connections project vision is “People and nature at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future”, and what better time to begin that ethos than during the #30DaysWild campaign.   We know that there are still a lot of people in the town who do not know of the beautiful sites that they can visit. This month we brought nature to you through events, both in and outdoors,

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Why ‘messy’ wildflower meadows are great for wildlife

We often debate which cleaning product is better for keeping germs at bay, and how Feng the Shui of our homes should be. And sometimes our thoughts and wishes for everything to be clean and pristine are carried into the natural world. I’ve had countless discussions with people who think “it’s lovely to see the grass cut and neat” or “that lawn is pristine, it’s just like a golf course”. Sadly, while they are neat and tidy, they are also artificial and limited in animal and plant species. Wildflower meadows are sometimes undervalued because they look untidy compared to a formal flowerbed, but the amount of life they can sustain is incredible. A true meadow consists of native species with a mix of sizes and flowering times, and a large variety of grasses swaying in the wind as if they are being led by a maestro. Part of this is due to companies advertising non-native plants in a mass of floral beauty. This is an artificial situation. Many of these plants will only last one season as they are not

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Please don’t tiptoe through our bluebells

It turns out people who are trying to get the perfect photo of a bluebell are in danger of killing them off. The UK woodlands are home to approximately 50% of the world’s population of bluebells, which are incredibly delicate and beautiful flowers. Cumbernauld’s wildlife reserves, including Cumbernauld Glen, Seafar Wood and Luggiebank, feature dazzling displays of these plants, which have taken centuries to colonise in our town through a symbiotic relationship with ancient oak woodlands. Walking off the paths puts our native bluebell at risk of being destroyed by trampling. Cumbernauld Living Landscape has held a number of bluebell walks over the years. During these events I always have to regularly remind people not to walk off the path. These bluebells are vitally important plants for pollinators especially when during the false starts to spring that we have experienced here in recent years. Certain plants can shut off systems if a leaf of branch is broken, diseased or cut, this isn’t the case with our native bluebell. Damage sustained is damage retained. While this may sound like a soundbite

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Masterchef goes wild

I held my last workshop of the school year year with St Maurice’s High School last week. This session gave me a chance to observe the change in these incredible young people and to express what I saw to them, as they move on from school towards employment or continued further education. While it was tinged with sadness to see another group coming to an end, I was also filled with pride and admiration for the young people in the group and how far they have come. With the weather behaving, we finally managed to run the outdoor cooking element of the Creating Natural Connections workshops. This is a session which encourages teamwork, listening, independent working and cooperation. It has very dry over the past couple of weeks so we set our fire in small barbecue buckets. We managed to cook sausages, pancakes, marshmallows and – adding a cultural edge from Cyprus – halloumi cheese! I have never been able to get so much cooked before in one session and was amazed to see everyone wolfed down the food in

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Fresh signs of pine marten in Cumbernauld

Recently Nature Ninja volunteer Ann Innes captured video of a pine marten in a woodland in Cumbernauld, it looks wonderfully healthy and it may be a female looking for a safe space to den and have her young in spring. We’ll be watching out for signs of these very cute kits! It is safe to say that the pine marten is at home here in the town. In 2013 a Scottish Wildlife Trust volunteer captured footage of one in another of the woodlands of Cumbernauld following on from a scat survey (where we look for pine marten poo) carried out by the Vincent Wildlife Trust. Both confirmed the presence of this beautiful creature and cameras were set up to determine if they were residents or just moving through. Over the years we have also conducted our own scat surveys in Cumbernauld and residents have also told me that they have either seen it or have noted the scat and asked about it. Pine martens, Martes martes, are mustelids related to ferrets and otters. They are easy to recognise with reddish-brown fur, a