Friday, 2 December 2011

It's getting cold and dark out there - Time to get busy

As the cold weather starts to take a grip, and we move into mid winters dark, thinking about conservation or environmental project work might seem a little redundant. Or just plain foolish! What can we do out there between now and the advent of spring? Suprisingly, an awful lot.

Observe
As the plants and trees reconsolidate after the bud, growth, seed & fruit cycle, so can we. Now is the time to plan out that action that you recognised as needing done in the warmer months. Perhaps you noted a stand of Japanese knotweed or Himalyan Balsam near where you walk your dog that requires springtime attention. Maybe you noticed that a hedgeline had died right back and could use a bit of TLC, or that a local pond is now completely clogged up with rubbish and weeds.

As we move our leisure activities indoors to community halls, have a good nose around to see what needs to be tackled. You may notice that the hall toilets aren’t wheelchair friendly, or the kitchen needs an upgrade, the roof is leaking or any one of a thousand other things. Items of maintenance that if left unattended will eventually cost a lot more or will even shut the hall down.

Plan
The planning phase of any environmental project is quite involved and requires thought, consultation, collection of prices and the gathering of friendly partners.

There are habitat surveys to be quoted against and funding sought. There are consents to be garnered, deals to be struck, and plans to be drawn up. There is, in fact, much to do in winter.

Resolve what you ought to do. Do, without fail, what you have resolved” - Benjamin Franklin

There is no argument that for many environmental projects the late spring to mid autumn are the best times to do project actions. As with most things 90 per cent of doing a really good job is in the preparation.

Falkirk Environment Trust is now looking forward to a new year of Environmental Project activity in 2012, and as such we are inviting our next group of applicants (ie YOU) from the communities of Falkirk, to contact the FET Development Manager (ie ME) with project ideas to be brought forward at the March and June 2012 Board of Directors meetings. We are particularly welcoming smaller actions more suited to Community Groups. So don’t be shy, lets hear your ideas!

Action
If you cannot wait for spring, and are feeling up to the challenge of winter conservation tasks  there are still a number of actions best suited to winter in Central Scotland. Examples include  rhododendron ponticum clearance in our woodlands (as you my know FET has declared war on alien invasive species, and the local rhodies infestations are first for a kicking!). Rebuilding drystane dykes as biodiversity habitats, willow spiling – building woven willow fences to retain exposed riverbanks, pond works -  ponds are dormant no, so winter is the best time. Don’t forget, there’s always path-works to be done, and the absolute best time for litter picks is in the winter months when all the vegetation has died back.

BTCV Scotland operate a series of midweek group activities that run right through the winter. I have included their December and January timetables below, just in case you feel like getting out there and doing some real environmental good over the winter.

Upcoming BTCV Scotland Conservation dates in Falkirk area;
December
6th-8th Ladywell Park Bannockburn, Willow Spiling (River height permiting)
13th-15th Ladywell Park Bannockburn, Willow Spiling (River height permiting)
January
10th-12th,  Muiravonside Park, Standburn, Avondale Quarry, Pond Clearence
26th Westquarter Glen, Rhododendron Ponticum Clearance
Feburary
9th, 23rd, 28th & 29th Westquarter Glen, Rhododendron Ponticum Clearance
March
1st & 5th-8th, Westquarter Glen, Rhododendron Ponticum Clearance
12th-15th, Muiravonside Park, Standburn, Avondale Quarry, Pond Clearence
19th-22nd & 26th-29th, Westquarter Glen, Rhododendron Poticum Clearance
Note: all dates and projects subject to change

If interested give will Smith or Alistair Lawson a call at BTCV Scotland on 01786 479697

And whatever you do, don’t forget to feed our indigenous birds that stick around through the harsh Scottish Winter – The subject of a future blog I think.

Thanks for reading

Arthur Berg
Development Manager
Falkirk Environment Trust
01324 504816
info@fet.org.uk

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