Legacy Update

2016/04/12

With Spring springing all around us and another year under everyone's belts it is time for another update on our progress towards putting the money Colin McLean left us to good use. At our consultation event a couple of years ago we defined four categories of activity that our members wanted us to contribute to.

The first of these was the development of Murder Acre at Bawsinch. LCV has had some most enjoyable days helping out with the clearance work on this site. The fencing LCV offered to legacy fund has now been erected and SWT's flying herd have been on site munching away and doing their bit to improve the biodiversity of the newly enclosed grassland. We have now handed over the £5,000 we promised SWT for this work and so our direct financial involvement is not at an end but there's no doubt we will be back on our regular visits to this site to see how things develop.

The flying herd settles in at Bawsinch (credit: Louisa Martin)

The flying herd settles in at Bawsinch (credit: Louisa Martin)

The second category of activity is a small grants scheme. Earlier this year we got in touch with our four biggest clients to ask them if there had any schemes they would be interested in putting forward. We got responses from East Lothian, Midlothian and SWT putting forward a total of five projects. We ruled out one of these, a proposal to repair drystane dykes at Traprain Law partly because we weren't convinced that volunteers are actually the best way to get results with drystane dykes, but mostly because the amount of money involved was quite a lot more than we had available. This left four projects all of which we could afford to fund and which we were happy met the criteria laid down following our consultation meeting.

  1. To support the important grassland habitats at Traprain Law by providing equipment and volunteer days to clear some of the areas of invading gorse without disturbing the archaeology which is only just below the surface. We have already made our first practical contribution to this project on a day which will have been memorable for all those who were there since a howling crosswind ensured that cut gorse blew away, empty bulk bags blew away, full bulk bags blew away and, if we didn't quite lose any for good, small to medium sized volunteers certainly threatened to blow away. We were all exhausted by the time we knocked off a bit earlier than originally planned.
  2. To support grassland habitats at Gullane Bents by purchasing the equipment needed to manage the site and to train up some local volunteers in its use. It's also likely that LCV will be able to lend a hand with some practical work here, though this didn't form part of the funding request.
  3. To help out SWT with the cost of equipment for their tree surgery team so that they can go on dealing with the trees too big for volunteers to handle.
  4. To contribute towards the cost of an interpretation panel for the Gunpowder Mills site near Roslin in Midlothian. The panel has been designed by a local student as part of his degree studies, but erecting these panels is costly and the Friends of Roslin Glen were glad of a hand with covering the full cost.
  5. Cash to cover these requests is in the process of being handed over where transactions are not complete already and we have some funds left for another round of suggestions next year.

The remaining categories are Reserve Development and Tree Related Projects. We've made less progress on these so far as persuading new or long inactive clients to take interest has been harder than expected. However, we did have an excellent weekend at SWT's Carstramon Wood reserve last spring where we were clearing beech saplings from an area of native woodland which was a job which was both tree related and important for the development of the reserve. This year we followed up at another site run by the same team, Carsegowan Moss. Carsegowan Moss is a very important lowland peat bog which, until recent years was struggling with invading saplings and excessive drainage. SWT has undertaken extensive work in recent years to block drainage ditches and build bunds and keep the water where it is meant to be, in the bog. LCV was helping to develop this reserve by pulling up invading saplings which had escaped all attempts to clear them so far. Two days of unseasonably fine weather saw us shedding layers in every direction and testing out our new tree popper, to the delight of those involved. More details on this task can be found in Mark's write up of this residential trip.