The past year has seen seemingly impossible advancement of our impact as a group on environmental endeavour in the Highlands with not only the commencement of possibly one of the biggest environmental citizen science opportunities in the country, but our commitment to a major Sapling Regeneration Programme in partnership with Dr Jan Dick from the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology in Edinburgh.
Essentially we have been given an area measuring approximately 10 square hectares and over the next 10 years we will conduct routine surveys of the land, sapling distribution, flora and fauna, with some of the information going towards important research on Climate Changes here in the Highlands.
We will conduct this work as a part of our own team activities whilst also availing other groups and organisations numerous opportunities to take part. We are therefore in the process of developing recording and training programmes which can be accessed by individuals of mixed ability; and which ensures uniformity of data recording.
The valley we will be working in is remote, beautiful and testing; it will therefore present challenges and difficulties to all those taking part in this endeavour. As part of this venture we have also been consulted about the establishment of earth cashing points within the terrain and we hope to extend this into areas within the Highland Wildlife Park as soon as practicable.
We are currently in discussions regarding the possibility of exchange trips to Greenland, Australia and Alaska….the first two are connected with our community and environmental programmes and the last is with regard to the possibility of our being involved in the ringing of Peregrine Falcon Chicks along the Mackenzie River.
Fortunately we had taken the decision early this year to expand the skill set of our young team members in order to prepare them for the eventuality of undertaking tasks in increasingly remote areas and we have already undertaken two environmental field trips, and carried out Skiing, Canoeing and Sailing training sessions.
We hope that all of our members will eventually gain one or more proficiency certificates in the activities on offer whilst those with the skills and aptitude will move on to instructor level programmes.
The team continue to carry out awareness days across a diverse array of issues and one very successful event was when we teamed up with Jasper Hughes the Education Officer from the Highland Wildlife Park. Essentially we set up a very visual link between the need to recycle and the maintenance of wild animal sanctuaries and parks. It was an extremely emotive venture, which was well received by members of the general public.
This project was taken one step further later in the year when we attended the Big Bang Science event in Perth where one of our members was awarded a Gold Level Award for their idea to take the waste products from recycled computer components and turn them into Jewellery.
Amy, who also received a prestigious Quality Young Scott Award this year, is currently in the process of developing a Social Enterprise whereby she will be employing other young people to help her produce items for sale at a number of leading tourist attractions including the Highland Wildlife Park. She is extremely grateful to Reboot, the company who are not only selling her products in their shop but providing core components.
Other up and coming projects include the development of an Allotment and Poly Tunnel which the team have generously been given by a local allotment society…it is hoped that over time we will be able to grow on cold climate plants for use in the park, as well as establish a social enterprise utilising natural products.
We are very pleased at receipt of the poly tunnel as it will give us someplace safe to bed down the whips we have coming in November; those that we don’t plant that is!
We also have a number of smaller projects in the pipe line and one of these is the development of an environmental garden for an inner city school in Inverness.
In recent week’s members of the team have received an array of John Muir Certificates from Explorer to Conservation Awards….and who better to present them than Dr Jane Goodall!
Dr Goodall spent a total of 5 days in the area in early September and it was our absolute honour to host an array of activities and events for her during this time.
We would like to thank everyone who came, helped out, and supported us during what was for some “the time of their lives”; special thanks must go to Sir John Lister Kaye, his family and all at the Aigas Field Centre.