Urban nature – get connected in Glasgow

SNH champions nature in our towns and cities so we all have more good quality greenspace to enjoy. Martin Faulkner, our Green Infrastructure Project and Funding Officer shares his diary accounts of visits to two urban nature projects SNH is joint-funding.

Canoeing taster sessions at the Claypits. ©Friends of Possilpark Greenspace

Canoeing taster sessions at the Claypits. ©Friends of Possilpark Greenspace

Visit to Easterhouse, Blairtummock and Cranhill  (Oct 2016)

Today is the first time out of an office for Iain, the new head of the Green Infrastructure (GI) team, to visit the project area for the Greater Easterhouse Project. The first time I’ve seen Easterhouse in the daylight since 1987!

What a difference, and such motivation to make the project work. I’m pretty sure this is the site of a primary school where I was on placement in ‘87. Nothing left but twisted and rusting railings, rough grass, roads going between where houses used to be, and the green poles still standing, but with just short sections of cut cables. The houses there now are a lot better than the previous ones, but the rough grassland just says, ‘Don’t care about you.’

Our guides, David, Heather and Michael from Glasgow City Council Regeneration Services, point out where the planned wetlands will be and where water voles are living just now. It seems incredible for water voles to be living nowhere near water, and so close to such a built up area.

Coffee at The Bridge, a very vibrant place – somebody doing a local history session in the library, an art exhibition and a buzzing café with really good coffee. Everybody looking very upbeat in contrast to the areas of grass and the abandoned football pitches outside.

A quick visit to the garden and park at Provan Hall. Kronk! Easy to spot the birdwatchers on the team – we both look up because hearing a raven in Glasgow is such a surprise. The same surprised reaction when we get to Hogganfield Loch – we’re used to the goosanders we’ve seen before in the Highlands fly off long before you get near them.

Then back into town to catch the train, and the GI team disperses.

Claypits Management Plan

Introducing the Clay Pits, Glasgow’s first inner city Local Nature Reserve.  The derelict site was transformed into a greenspace, with a path and boardwalk, a mountain bike trail, disabled access fishing pegs, redesigned gateways, viewpoints and a feature pedestrian bridge linking communities from either side of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve.

Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve.

5 December 2016

The next pre-contract meeting with Glasgow City Council tomorrow. Just in time Chris and Shiona have sent the draft maintenance plan for the Hamiltonhill Claypits Local Nature Reserve after the capital works stop in December 2018. Without the maintenance plan we cannot confirm the funding, so I’m pleased they’ve sent it, and that it is fit for purpose.

Good to see that the maintenance work will mostly be done by volunteers from the local area, and that they had a big say in the way the reserve will look. The local people had a very strong message – No manicuring, please. We really do want this to be a wild area in the middle of Glasgow.

Also really pleased to see this part of the project progressing after the SNH Board visited in late August and were encouraged that SNH were helping with urban nature.

6 December 2016

Pre-contract meeting over, with more positives to think about. There is likely to be a planning application for additional green infrastructure at Firhill. One of the Glasgow Planning Officers thinks that there is more confidence about submitting applications like this as a result of the Green Infrastructure funding.

Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow. © Lorne Gill/SNH

Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow. © Lorne Gill/SNH

What is green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure includes the parks, woodlands, street trees, play spaces, allotments, private gardens, playing fields, road verges, green walls and living roofs, rivers, streams, wetlands and sustainable drainage in our landscape. It also comprises the footpaths, signs and seating that help us use, experience and enjoy our environment. We are beginning to realise that green infrastructure is more than its sum of parts. The way all of these parts work together is what makes it special.

SNH is involved in green infrastructure planning as part of our day-to-day work. We provide advice to local authorities on their greenspace strategies, local development plans and developer masterplans. We are members of, and help fund, the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, developing a green network across Central Scotland. We also manage a multi-million pound programme of funding for green infrastructure – the Green Infrastructure Fund.

Read Martin’s article on green infrastructure from page 26 of the Nature of Scotland magazine.

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