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Thursday
Nov152018

Another busy week of clean-ups and path work

As Autumn leaves fall on to paths and reveal litter hidden by vegetation over the summer volunteers once again rise to the occasion.

On Sunday afternoon we had a big clean-up in Leith with help from Leithers Against Litter and Friends of the Water of Leith Basin. Around 30 folk help to amass this haul of litter - Thank you everyone

Tuesday saw the now weekly Hit Squad team head back to Stockbridge and Dean Village to tidy the garden by St Bernards Well, trim over hanging trees and branches and tackle the leaf fall on the path. We were also filmed by BBC Landward so that was very exciting

And finally on Thursday a dozen or so staff from Baillie Gifford joined us at Redbraes Weir for more cleaning up and path work. We are delighted to have their support as funders this years as well as people power helping to look after the river.

 

Thursday
Nov152018

The Trust turns 30 next week and we plan to celebrate in style!

This November the Water of Leith Conservation Trust becomes 30 years old. The first river trust to be set up in Scotland – we have blazed a trail in conserving and enhancing urban waterways and have achieved many important milestones in creating a truly – clean, green and beautiful river
for our capital city. 
On Wednesday 21st November, 30 years to the day of our launch, volunteer, staff, stakeholders and trustees have been invited to attend a Civic Reception at Edinburgh City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost,  to recognise their achievements over the past three decades. Earlier this week we were filmed by BBC Landward TV programme so watch for our star turn sometime before Christmas and we are also delighted to have been nominated for the Nature of Scotland Award 2018 – with the ceremony taking place on 22nd November with a black tie do at the Sheraton Hotel.
 
Since 1988 – we have delivered 1418 conservation tasks and river clean ups - an average of 47 per year for 30 years. We have also calculated that we have cleared an estimated 5000 cubic meters of rubbish from the Water of Leith – enough to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools. Volunteers have given over 128,000 hours of service to the river, we have lead 3714 learning sessions to school and community groups and welcomed over 217,000 visitors to our Centre in Slateford. Importantly we have seen wildlife return to this once industrial and polluted river.
Below I have detailed some of our key milestones over the past three decades showing how we have flourished – just like the river we love so dearly.
In 1988 The Trust was launched at The Dragonara Hotel, by Lord James Douglas Hamilton, the then Minister for the Environment,  and the Heritage Centre in Slateford was officially opened in the following spring by Sir Malcolm Rifkind. We quickly gained support and recognition from environmentalists, developing education resources, pioneering volunteer river clean-ups in the city and producing interpretation and publications about the river’s long and varied heritage.
In 1998 we took a BIG leap forward as we secured a £2.5million grant from the Millennium Commission with match funding from others, mainly The City of Edinburgh Council and Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Ltd. Also in that year we launched our ‘Environmental Education’ programme supported by CEC Education Department – which is flourishing to this day and has taught over 75,000 of the cities young people. There followed a very busy three years, with the creation of The Water of Leith Visitor Centre, the completion of the Water of Leith Walkway and many other the improvements brought about by the ‘Millennium Project’. In April 2000 a major flood event on the river, set back a number of the walkway projects and even threatened the newly completed Water of Leith Visitor Centre. Thankfully all went well and we could proceed with the formal opening by HRH the Prince of Wales on 24th May 2000. The City now had walkway, a river to be proud of and a Visitor Centre to host the trust’s volunteer team, education visits and as a public information hub. 
By 2008 we had seen our centre visitor figures rise to over 10,000. We were delivering nearly 200 learning sessions every year and our volunteer team gave an outstanding 4800 hours of service. We delivered 45 river clean-ups and numerous tasks to manage the habitats along the river – we even planned our first ever fundraising ‘duck’ race. But the highlight of that year was that we saw for the first time in centuries, otter cubs born on the river, proving our work to improve the habitats along the river and the water quality was working. We worked out that annually we cleared the equivalent of two double decker buses full of rubbish from the river
Now in 2018 we have grown yet again, with the centre now seeing over 17,000 visitors and we deliver over 150 volunteer tasks and clean-ups. 5400 hours were spent by volunteers in the last 12 months improving this waterway with an additional 3400 at our visitor centre. Working with the city’s youth remains a focus as we continue to deliver quality outdoor learning programmes for the city’s school, fun events and outings for youth groups and 38 conservation tasks for youths facing disadvantages or with learning difficulties. And the otter continues to breed, along with healthy populations of kingfishers, dippers and over 100 other species of wildlife. 
Throughout our work we have been supported by the City Council and the citizens of our capital to create a ‘silver thread in a ribbon of green’. 

 

Wednesday
Oct312018

Bat Box survey day - look who we found

Yesterday Licensed Bat work Caroline lead Charlotte and a volunteers in to the Dells to see how our bat boxes are being used and to assess the health of bat populations in the Dells and Slateford. There was evidence of use in many of the boxes and one contained this wee chap not quite ready to find his hibernation spot he was still in one of the summer roosting boxes. CLICK on me to see the BLOG post from volunteer Juliet who joined us

Wednesday
Oct312018

Old school clean-ups at the Longstone bend reveals different rubbish

A whole bag of spuds!!!

4 wheelie Bins !!!!

Plus a TV, Gas Bottles, a very smelly rug, more tyres....and the usual litter

This has been one heck of a task conducted over 3 sessions with our Volunteers, Hit squad and WorkingRite (Youth Group). Thank you to all involved. 

 

Wednesday
Oct312018

Our AGM was a fun night - would you like to see our 2017/18 Annual Report

Monday night saw our AGM and we had a fun and nostalgic evening as the presentation told of the history of the Trust since our launch on 21st November 1988. We also paid thanks to Ian Anderson who has chaired the Trust for a number of years and welcomed Pat Dawson as our new Chair. In the coming weeks I will be producing a blog and newsletter to commemorate this 30th Anniversary and releasing a special Anniversary Christmas Raffle, but in the meantime if you would like to see our 2017/18 Annual Report please CLICK ON ME and for a copy of our Account visit http://www.waterofleith.org.uk/do/