Stirling Members Centre Annual Newsletter
Local membership has increased from 605 in 2012 to 632 households in 2013.
2. Winter Meetings
Our meetings this year have been well attended, 52 were present for the talk given by Anne Chambers and Liz Mills on 'Mountain Flowers'. Three of our speakers' presentations resulted in 'actions':
|Next year 2013 -14 the Raploch Community Centre has been booked for our talks on the first Tuesday in the month at 7.30pm. There will be an experimental afternoon meeting in January 2014.|
A number of walks were run in collaboration with the Callander MC. John Holland specifically organised a visit to the Breadalbane Hills to the West of Ben Lawers. This is an area inside Stirling District Council Boundaries but outside the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (LLTNP) and so is represented in Stirling's Biodiversity Action Plan. Guy Harewood Stirling's Biodiversity Officer together with other Countryside Rangers accompanied members to be shown some of the rare alpine plants growing in the area.
During preparations for a January walk round Stirling University Campus we found that the trees in the 200 year old arboretum had never been labelled. Tree expert Robert Gray kindly agreed to name them and the garden staff are currently busy creating new labels. In spite of initial pitch black clouds and snow flurries 25 members turned up for the walk and thoroughly enjoyed being shown round by Stirling University Nature Society members. During the afternoon the Biology Department put on a display of skeletons of native species ranging from bats to beavers which members had fun trying to identify.
| 4. Conservation and Wildlife Monitoring|
Originally it was described as 'growing in great profusion over the higher slopes' which sadly are now dominated by scrub, bracken and coarse grasses. The use of herbicides, fertilizers, sophisticated drainage and mechanical cutting on the golf course areas together with a lack of stewardship around the periphery are thought to be responsible.
|5. Protecting the Wildlife Interests Associated with Local Authority Planning|
|6. Watch Group|
The children's Watch Group run by Debbie Spray continues to put on monthly programmes. They have had problems funding meeting places and so have adopted a mainly outdoor programme.
|7. Our Local Reserves |
During the course of the year our reserves manager Alistair Whyte left the SWT and has been replaced by Rory Sandison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alloa Inch: (Convenor Roy Sexton). This 100 acre island reserve in the river Forth continues to attract large numbers of geese, ducks and waders. Due to lack of boat availability we were unable to carry out our annual surveys in both 2011 and 2012.
Cambus Pools (Convenor Roger Gooch). Measures are being pursued to stop these ponds from being further overwhelmed by reeds. As a result of funding from The Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust (Administrators of Landfill Tax) the site has been fenced and subsequently grazed by ponies.
|8. The Committee |
|Thanks are due for the enormous amount of work done by the Committee.|
Stirling Members Centre Annual Newsletter
April 2011 - April 2012
Local membership stands at 605 households in 2012.
|2. Meetings and Outings|
|We have had another series of excellent winter talks with audiences between 25-45 including a good number of non members. It has been nice to have the support and enthusiasm from the members of Stirling University Nature Society. The programme covered the following topics:|
|For many it proved an uplifting experience to find so many small groups like 'On the Verge', 'Ecoschools' etc. making such an impact.|
The Chairman has given a number of talks to local clubs and gatherings usually pointing out the relentless loss of local biodiversity.
Next year 2012-13, the Raploch Community Centre has been booked for our talks on the first Tuesday in the month. NB: There will be no talk in January.
|3. Conservation, Local Biodiversity Action Plans and Wildlife Monitoring|
|We are involved in trying to save the last few plants of a Schleicher's thread moss which grows in a spring on the Touch Hills. It has been over-run by rushes at, this, its only remaining UK site.|
Together with Friends of Kings Park we are going to resurvey the flora of the area and compare it with a list of the plants that were present 100 years ago.
The SWT is represented at the meetings of both Clackmannanshire and Stirlingshire's Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Committees. Our contribution to the Clacks BAP is limited to conservation work on our reserves at Alloa Inch, Tullibody Inch and Cambus Pools together with annual monitoring of orchid sites. In Stirling our main effort has been to finalise the Species of Conservation concern lists which are used in planning application Environmental Impact Assessments. In the next few years we are committed to identifying and surveying new potential Local Nature Conservation Sites in both counties.
|4. Protecting the Wildlife Interests Associated with Local Authority Planning|
A network of members is in place to screen local Council planning applications for wildlife impact. Our membership also provides a steady stream of issues.
We have commented on a number of major Stirling and Clacks planning proposals including the Beauly to Denny power line and objected to the Black Devon Wind Turbine application and the Holmehill development in Dunblane . A representative spoke at the Council discussion of the planned development of the cowslip field and obtained a number of concessions from the developers.
|5. Watch Group|
Stirling's successful Watch Group continues to put on monthly programmes to which the MC contributed to the bat box making event. The group is run by Sue Hunter, and Debbie Spray. They have had problems funding meeting places and so have adopted a mainly outdoor programme.
|6. Our Local Reserves|
Alloa Inch (Convenor Roy Sexton)
This 100 acre island reserve in the river Forth continues to attract large numbers of geese, ducks and waders. Due to poor weather conditions and lack of boat availability we unfortunately were unable to carry out our annual survey in 2011.
Cambus Pools (Convenor Roger Gooch)
These ponds at the side of the Forth at Cambus, continue to be overwhelmed by reeds. As a result of funding from The Clackmannanshire and Stirling Environment Trust (Administrators of Landfill Tax) the site has been fenced so that it can be grazed by SWT's Shetland cattle.
|Thanks are due for the enormous amount of work done by the committee:|
|Alloa Inch (Centre) - picture courtesy of Clackmannan Council|
|SWT's island reserve in the River Forth was once a flourishing farm which was protected from the tidal waters by 2m high surrounding banks. These were breached in the 1980s when it became flooded at high tides and was converted into a 100 acre salt marsh. This now provides shelter for huge flocks of geese, ducks and waders. In spring it resembles a snow field covered with the white flowers of sea scurvy grass which in autumn is transformed to sheets of purple when the sea aster flowers.|
Stirling Members Centre Annual Newsletter
April 2010 - April 2011
Local membership has risen from 676 households in 2010 to 705 in 2011.
|Next year, 2011-12, the Raploch Community Campus has been booked for our talks on the 1st Tuesday in the month which will no longer clash with Callander SWT. We arranged a series of local 'nature rich walks' one of which was featured on BBC Scotland's Out of Doors programme. Wildlife highlights included smew on Linlithgow Loch, green hairstreak butterflies, cuckoos and grasshopper warblers on the Ochils, globeflowers and toothwort in Carron Glen and Grass of Parnassus at Geordies Wood.|
|3. Conservation, Local Biodiversity Action Plans and Wildlife|
|Surveys were carried out to determine the pollinators of local populations of lesser and greater butterfly orchids, frog orchids and broad leaved helleborine. The associated overnight family moth trapping event run by the Ranger Service at Plean Country Park butterfly orchid meadow was a great success.|
The SWT is represented at the meetings of both Clackmannanshire and Stirlingshire's Biodiversity Action Plan steering committees.
|Responsibility of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park BAP was handed over to Callander MC's new committee.|
Our campaign to get Pirri Pirri bur and American Skunk Cabbage recognised as aggressive alien species, seems to be bearing fruit.
|4. Protecting Wildlife Interests Associated with Local Authority Planning|
|A network of members is in place to screen local Council planning applications.|
We have commented on a number of major Stirling and Clacks planning proposals including the Beauly to Denny power line and objected to the Black Devon Wind Turbine application.
We were involved in consultation workshops concerned with defining the environmental policies of both Clacks and Stirling Councils for their new Local Development Plans. We hope to get Local Nature Conservation Sites identified in the planning procedures of both councils.
Stirling Council's New Local Development Plan proposals contained a large number of preferred development sites. We arranged for members to visit these and where appropriate we have commented on potential wildlife interests. We have also helped a number of local community groups respond to these proposals and to other planning issues.
We were interviewed by consultants charged with identifying Stirling Council's Green Corridors. They were keen to obtain information about past and proposed Local Nature Conservation Sites and we provided the data they required.
We were involved as stake holders with the development of Community Plans in Kings Park, Plean Country Park and Bridge of Allan. Proposals were submitted for wildlife management in Plean Country Park.
|5. Watch Group|
Stirling's successful Watch Group continues to put on monthly programme to which the MC contributed a pond dipping event at Airthrey Loch. The children also talked about their John Muir Award projects at SWT's AGM in Edinburgh.
|Families trapping the moths that pollinate butterfly orchids at Plean|
7. Our Local Reserves
|Alloa Inch: (Convenor Roy Sexton). This 100 acre island reserve in the river Forth continues to attract large numbers of geese, ducks and waders. The experimental barrier which was constructed to reduce erosion on the upstream bank was reasonably successful and remained in place through a series of major river flows. A new management plan for the reserve was written in 2011.|
Alloa inch was once a flourishing farm which was protected from the tidal waters by 2m high surrounding banks. These were breached in the 1980s when it became flooded at high tides and was converted into a 100 acre salt marsh. This now provides shelter for huge flocks of geese, ducks and waders. In spring it resembles a snow field covered with the white flowers of sea scurvey grass which in autum is transformed to sheets of purple when the sea aster flowers.
|7. The Committee|
|Thanks are due for the enormous amount of work done by the committee and particularly by our treasurer Bryan Hill who sadly died during the year.|
Items from Previous Newsletters
|International Year of Biodiversity and the 2010 Biodiversity Target. How are we doing locally?|
|The UN has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (resolution 61/203). This coincides with the target which was adopted by Heads of State and Government at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 "To achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010". So how are we doing in the UK and what has been our local record in Central Scotland. |
Locally the Woodland Trust is an example of an organization doing a great job re-afforesting Glen Finglas and Glenquey.
The indicators showing trends in the components of biodiversity are generally less favourable. UK's breeding farmland birds have declined over both the short and long term and although locally we have not suffered as much as some, we no longer have corncrakes and corn buntings. To try and reverse this loss the RSPB has been active in encouraging farmers to sow wild seed cover and by providing local tree sparrow feeding stations. As reported in the last newsletter we have also experienced a decline in a number of wetland birds on the Forth and this is in line with another of the UK monitoring trends. Our SWT reserves llike Alloa Inch help moderate this loss.
Nationally plant diversity continues to suffer a reduction in the species richness of broadleaved woodland and wild flower rich grassland. Herb Paris and Yellow Star of Bethlehem are two beautiful woodland plants that we fear have become extinct in local woodlands.
There is a danger of assuming that reversing the present headlong decline in biodiversity is just a concern in the rainforests of the third world and that local and national government has our UK and Forth Valley sitution under control. The glimpses given of some of the local losses show this is definitey not the case. Habitats and species are best conserved as a result of local communities being aware of where they are and valuing them enough to be prepared to fight for them. This must be your role - the SWT members - to be guardians of your local patch. So please keep an eye out and alert your committtee (email@example.com) if anything seems threatened.
Monitoring the Internationally Important Wintering Wetland Bird Populations in the Forth Estuary
|In winter the UK hosts internationally important numbers of many types of wetland bird (i.e. more than 1% of all the individuals of that species). This is because we have nearly a third of Europe's estuaries and compared with Northern and Eastern Europe our winters are relatively mild leaving the feeding sites unfrozen. The concentration of all these water birds into relatively few sites provides the opportunity to monitor their populations and once a month throughout the winter just over 3000 volunteers go out to allocated sites and count the different species. In our Members Centre area 44 volunteers are involved monitoring the Forth, Teith and Devon rivers. This scheme has been running fior 60 years and is currently known as the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) which is co-ordinated by a team of professionals based at the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) HQ in Thetford.|
In the UK, 218 "principal sites" have been identified as supporting 10,000 waterbirds or internationally important numbers of at least one species. Of these the Forth Estuary ranks 12th with a five year average of 85,000 birds compared with 368,000 in the Wash and 120,000 in the Solway. We have internationally
important numbers of Pink-footed and Icelandic Greylag Geese, Shelduck, Slavonian Grebe, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Redshank. In addition, seventeen other species are defined as nationally important and, of these, we have the biggest GB populations of Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe and Shag.
|Red-breasted Merganser (Jill Pakenham/BTO)|
Fortunately there are also a few species which are increasing like the Curlew and Velvet Scoter. If a decline is common to all the birds' UK sites then a generic cause is implicated such as adverse conditions in the breeding grounds. However if the Forth population is declining while the UK population is static then a local cause is more likely. Along the Forth, pressure from developments like the new bridges and disturbance due to easier access, are given as reasons for the decline. Ironically improving the water quality has also probably been detrimental to some species. For example the discharge of spent grain from breweries and distilleries used to provide a great source of food for some ducks.