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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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Finding Fungi

Hearing that the nights are ‘fair drawing in’ is as predictable at this time of year as the leaves fluttering down or the sweet sound of geese above our head, but on the woodland floor something just as amazing becomes apparent. Fungi seems to be everywhere, but why is there so much of it at this time of year? Well, with so many leaves and dead vegetation falling to the ground it is munch-time for mushrooms. They have the very important job of breaking down dead material that is then enjoyed by a huge number of bugs and grubs. Fungi is often the leaders in a parade of life that breaks material down into substances that are edible for further waves of species. This makes them extremely important and let’s face it, they are pretty good looking as well! Walking over to some deadwood I peer some bright orange blob that looks a bit like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants. What an odd but awesome sight. “Two krabby pates please”. I ask, laughing to myself. Typically there’s no-one around to hear it. Moving

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Discovering the Living Landscapes in Cumbernauld

When I was asked which environmental organisations I would like to visit as part of my internship, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Living Landscapes Project were definitely on my list. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about the work of one of Scotland’s most important conservation NGOs. I am originally from Hanover, Germany, where I am doing my Master’s degree in environmental planning. Before I will hopefully enter into employment in spring next year, I wanted to spend time abroad and learn how other countries approach the topic of environmental protection and nature conservation in practice. Therefore, I moved to Stirling at the end of April and started an internship at greenspace scotland. greenspace scotland is Scotland’s parks and greenspace charity and a social enterprise working with partners to pioneer new approaches to managing and resourcing greenspace. During my internship I was given the opportunity to get a taste of various projects around greenspaces and to dive into the Scottish green network, where the Living Landscape projects is an integral part. Cumbernauld is characterised by

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Leave no trace

The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seafar Wildlife Reserve is one of my favourite places in Cumbernauld to visit. The Trust is working hard to change the structure of the woodlands, helping native trees and wildflowers to flourish in the new light, open spaces. More native trees and flowers means more insects like butterflies and dragonflies, which in turn leads to more birds and mammals. Already you can see signs of this change. The reserve is popular with the public too, and because we spend a lot of time here the Wild Ways Well team feels a bit of responsibility towards it. A few weeks ago we had a litter pick and removed ten bin bags of litter, plus a family-sized inflatable paddling pool and a destroyed picnic bench, all from one tiny area. The saddest part was all the broken glass. It’s awful to think of barefooted children playing there, and of the animals who call Seafar home. Wildlife can be badly affected by litter, eating it, becoming entangled or injuring themselves. A cut paw for a badger, without access to

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Roe a deer, a female deer….fawn is running right beside

What are those deer doing? Why on earth are they fighting? As we enter the middle of the month it’s time for one of Cumbernauld’s most commonly sighted mammals to spring into action. Mid-July to mid-August is the roe deer rutting season, when males compete for territory and mates. Unlike their Red cousins the roe deer ruts much earlier in the year. As you have been walking around outside you may have noticed antlers getting bigger and coats getting much brighter in preparation for the season. If you are lucky enough to see the rut when you are out and about it’s a fantastic sight, but if like me you are walking the dog, always make sure you have them on their lead. Of course this advice isn’t just for rutting season but any time you come across wildlife. We have all seen the “Fenton” video! Someone once said to me “you will never see a fawn out and about, they’re too well hidden!” Fortunately for us, wildlife doesn’t tend to read the books about itself, as we found out

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Green Health and Wellbeing

What happens when traditional health practitioners and green health practitioners meet? They get together around a fire and experience a great cup of tea in the outdoors! Last month, Cumbernauld Living Landscape along with eight other organisations were invited to present their projects at the Lanarkshire Green Health Volunteering event in the stunningly beautiful Chatelherault Country Park. The aim was to showcase practical outdoors activities in order to demonstrate the potential health benefits for volunteers. The Lanarkshire Green Health Partnership was formed in April 2018. It is helping to connect health and social care with nature. The partners include both North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council as well as a number of leisure and voluntary sector organisations. The event was well attended. Around 200 people, mainly NHS staff, were bouncing from one group to the next with great enthusiasm! We were delighted to present them with a taste of our very successful Wild Ways Well sessions. We had folk mindfully tasting various teas, lighting fires, baking bread sticks, decorating the trees with forest guardians, learning about and tasting locally