New woodland and wader scrapes

News from the Arran Community Land Initiative February 2021

The challenges of living with a pandemic has affected us all deeply. The trustees have had to consider what we can contribute to the island effort, however small. We also need to prioritise, given the limited resources we have. Maintaining and improving the site for educational and recreational purposes have to be high on our list.

The restrictions of the past year have affected our ability to provide opportunities for children to undertake outdoor learning as part of the national curriculum. It has also made it difficult for us to organise volunteering, green health activities and educational opportunities for all other age groups.

Despite the challenges we have managed to make progress over the past year and COVID support grants aimed at charities were a big help with this.

Community garden
• Over the year we extended the growing area, constructed more raised beds and fenced the new area.
• A small number of volunteers produced around 200 fruit and veg boxes for people referred to us.
• The area was tidied, better maintained and a further area put under weed block. Potentially for more allotments or expanding further fruit and veg growing.
• The barn roof was strengthened and a polytunnel donated to us was erected.

Allotments
Plot holders continued to make good use of the site. Many found it to be a good escape from the stress of the pandemic.

Woodland
We have had over 1000 trees donated to us, including Oak, Aspen, Downy Birch, Hazel, Rowan, Bird Cherry, Hawthorn and others. Over the last 3 months we have planted several hundred. We still have around another 250 larger trees and 400 hedging trees to plant.

Establishing new woodland – planting trees on the Arran Community Land

Wader scrapes
Nature Scot provided a small grant to create two wader scrapes in one of our higher fields and this was done in February. Land managers are being encouraged to create the right habitats for breeding wading birds, such as Snipe, Curlew and Oystercatcher from March to June. We hope that over time this field will become well used by such birds.

A recently dug wader scrape on the Arran Community Land

Website – this has been revamped.

Recreational users
Many people regularly use the site for walking or horse riding and we have had lots of favourable comments about how the land is looking.

Fencing and track work
We managed to replace 130 metres of fencing at a two-day training event in the autumn. We know that we have other fields which require replacement fencing and/or hedge repair and we are prioritizing those most in need of attention. One priority has to be the replacement of more fencing around the horse fields as this helps us sustain a regular income.

New fencing

We were also able to improve a track and repair damage from a burn.

Plans for 2021

• We hope that as the restrictions lift, we can promote in a more organised way the social, environmental and health benefits of enjoying the community land.
• The agricultural-environment scheme has re-opened and we intend to apply for grants from it. These may include support for possibilities such as flower rich meadows, managing scrub of conservation value, improving public access and managing a habitat mosaic.
• We work in partnership with Green Futures Arran who hope to work with the job centre and others to offer work experience on the community land.

Volunteering

If you are interested in finding out how you could become involved in Community Land activities please contact us at: arranacli@gmail.com

We know that opportunities are limited in the near future due to current restrictions, but we would love to hear from anyone who is interested at any time. See our Facebook page for more information.