Hello and welcome to the March issue of the Voice for Arran!

March brings us the start of Spring (and hopefully some calmer weather), and is also bringing us a month of Fests in Arran! From the longstanding Isle of Arran Music Festival, in its 91st year, to the first VegFest, organised by the Arran Vegan Group and the folk at Stonewater House B&B in Lamlash, the Arran community has been busy making exciting March plans.

VegFest will take place over two days on the weekend of 14th and 15th March at the High School and there is an amazing array of stalls and speakers planned as well as lots of vegan food to try and other vegan products to check out. The VegFest organisers say: Arran VegFest celebrates the exponential growth of the vegan and plant based lifestyle. The festival aims to showcase Arran’s vegan offerings, and to inform, educate and inspire the Arran community and visitors to the island about the benefits of the vegan lifestyle.

Following closely on is another first, the Eco Savvy Spring Fest, on 21st March over at the new glamping site at Balmichael. This promises to be another great day, packed with eco themed activities and stalls, from a local food producers market, food growing and planting events, ebike trials and obstacle course, and other inspiring ways to learn about how we can help make our lovely island more sustainable.

Along with some other previews, in this issue we have a range of articles including a new series on the Vikings by local writer Jim Henderson, and an update on the recent research published by the University of York about the regeneration of the seabed in the No Take Zone in Lamlash. Sally Campbell reports on marine matters further afield (Chinstrap penguins and turtles, The law of the Seas) and points to the shockingly warm temperatures recorded last month in Antarctica. Global warming is a major issue for species such as turtles and penguins, but it remains only one of several severe human made problems that marine wildlife now has to contend with. The impact of fisheries, exploitation of food resources, coastal development, pollution, are all taking their toll.

Some good news comes from closer to home from The Hebridean Whale and Dophin Trust who report that record numbers of volunteers are taking part in the expeditions on the research yacht Silurian meaning that important data can be collected all through the year including the winter months, so informing action to better protect these species and the marine environment.

It is these kinds of actions by individuals, who give up their time to research the oceans, or help educate us on sustainable ways of living and eating, which reminds me that we can all help create alternative ways of doing things, ways that help preserve the planet rather than damage and deplete it. While the powers of governments, industry and business often continue to take us in the opposite (often exasperating) direction, each one of us can do things differently and together grow communities that make a difference. Enjoy this issue of the Voice and the Arran Fests if you can get to them! And hopefully we can each find some space over the next month to discover opportunities, no matter how small, to make a positive sustainable change in our daily lives…