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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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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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A swift break

You may have read that we submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for our new project. We will hear in December if we are successful. Following the submission I headed out to Lanzarote for a break. Now you may be wondering what my holiday had to do with wildlife or Cumbernauld Living Landscape, but stay with me here. At first glance this volcanic island seems limited in wildlife, but when you take five minutes away from the sun loungers you can find a myriad of different plants, birds and animals. And one of these birds, the swift, links the Canary Islands to Cumbernauld. Swifts come to the UK as a late spring after a huge journey from Africa. You can hear them screeching as they catch insects mid-flight. Their chicks, once they have hatched and fledged, will remain in flight for up to three years. They even sleep on the wing! Every year we have swifts breeding here in Cumbernauld. They’re one of the heralds of spring and often roost in churches, industrial units and other tall buildings.

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Wish us luck!

After a lot of conversations, consultations, taster sessions and report writing we have finally hit the button to send the Creating Natural Connections Stage 2 Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The Living Landscape team would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this application.  We really appreciate your opinions, your time and your support for what we think is a fantastic project.  We’ve even made a wee video showing what this project means to us too! Our last request to you, our community is to keep your fingers crossed for us and wish us luck! .

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Cumbernauld students visit to Parliament

Last night Ian and I had the pleasure of attending the Scottish Environment LINK “Generation Earth: Celebrating Young Environmental Campaigners” event with 3 outstanding young people from Cumbernauld Academy. Mr Parker P.E. teacher had brought through a small group of students who have taken part in the ‘Engaging Communities‘  project which ended last year. The event was delivered to MSP’s, and other high level individuals from across Scotland to show of the work of young people and their passion for protecting the environment. There was a lot of interest in the work the young people have carried out in the town from MSP’s in Dumfries and Galloway and Angus, to a representatives from Scottish Countryside Ranger Association and Archaeology Scotland. It was incredible to see how much of an impact ‘Engaging Communities’ could have to other areas around Scotland and was encouraging to see this level of interest especially now that we are in the process of developing a new project which would expand upon this model. Creating Natural Connections would be a major expansion of the work we have done over the

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Happy International Day of the Forest!

Way back in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to observe 21 March as the International Day of Forests every year. Their aim was to raise awareness of the role and importance of forests around the world. 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food and shelter, and the other 6 billion of us are pretty much dependent on the services that forests provide too. Many of these services are vital things that we take for granted like the air we breathe. Believe it or not one third of the Earth’s land mass is covered in forests that are incredibly diverse. Forests are home to an incredible 80% of the species of plants and animals found on the planet’s surface. Sadly, these global forests are under attack. 13 million hectares (that’s 13 million international sized football pitches) are destroyed every year. This deforestation s one of the biggest sources of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Thinking globally makes me appreciate the benefits we receive from our woodlands even more. Cumbernauld is very lucky

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We invite you to see our unveiled plans

Over the past few months, Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been carrying out a lot of consultations about the towns green spaces and the community groups who use them.  Thank you to everyone who has taken part and helped us to understand your views about the local green spaces in the town. In the background expert consultants have been out looking at the local area identifying breaks in path routes, habitat type, quality of routes and habitats and so much more. All of that information has now come back, and we would show you the list of projects that have come from these consultants and hear from you which projects would have the greatest impact for our community. I am extremely excited to see the list of projects which will help us to access our parks and green spaces better and so for one more time I ask your help and opinion. We have seen the Cumbernauld community spirit come alive during the heavy snow with groups of residents helping to dig out schools and parking areas. There is a craving for people

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Beech cleans in Cumbernauld?

I bet you thought I spelt the title for this week’s blog wrong. Fear not, I haven’t not lost my dictionary. There has been a recent upsurge in beach cleans happening around the globe due to our increasing understanding of the damage that plastics are doing to wildlife. While this is great, surely it’s better to tackle the problem at source? Even though we’re a good few miles away from the coast in Cumbernauld we have our own beeches, trees. It’s important to keep our local woodlands and parks clean, and not just because some of the litter in these places may be destined for the ocean. Wood it not be better to either take your litter home and recycle it where possible or place it in a bin if the site you are on has one? How hard is it, fir goodness sake? Our next volunteer day is going to be a big litter pick in a local woodland that needs spruced up, the job might be a bit of a birch but that won’t stop our dedicated volunteers. We

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Making memories

Over the past few weeks Cumbernauld Living Landscape has been holding consultations to find out the aspirations of groups and the barriers that stop people from using our local woods and wild places to help us develop our Natural Connections project. We’ve met with people who have a passion for their town, and those who are new to the area and keen to get out and explore. We have even met with some people who have never visited a wildlife reserve in Cumbernauld simply because they didn’t know they were there, which is something we really want to change. I had an amazing chat with an elderly gentleman who was 87 years young. He reminisced about his shenanigans during the Second World War. He would spend hours trailing through the woodlands, splashing around the edge of lochs, and exploring every nook and cranny he could. He spoke of how bombs had been dropped on the area in an attempt to blow up the steel works, and how one landed on a cow in Garthamloch, a story I can remember hearing

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Conservation day at Luggiebank Wood

We are very excited to be heading out to Luggiebank Wood Wildlife Reserve for a spot of conservation work at the weekend. This is a wee gem looked after by the Scottish Wildlife Trust located just behind the train station at Greenfaulds. It is the Trust’s smallest reserve in Cumbernauld but what it lacks in size it makes up for in wildlife. I’ve been told you can spot kingfishers fishing in the fast-flowing waters either side of the waterfall and our surveys along the river have even found evidence of otters. There are a bonanza of birds to be seen including grasshopper warblers, chiff chaffs, buzzards and owls. And don’t forget about the plants! Shimmering bluebells, bright orange fox and cubs, and lots more wildflowers can be found. As long as the weather obliges our volunteer day will be aimed at turning a small patch of grass into a wildflower patch for local school children to explore and learn about and we will also be cutting back the vegetation that in encroaching on the path network. There is quite a lot