On 17th March we closed the doors of the centre and paused all operations due to the rise of a deadly virus, I am not sure any of us would have thought 8 months later we would be in a similar position. However, we soon learnt during the COVID19 pandemic that the Water of Leith has become an even more vital part of Edinburgh’s green infrastructure, as over the past 8 months people have sought out natural green spaces as a sanctuary and for daily exercise. As lockdown eased we implemented our Covid response which focused on the following:
• Treatment of Giant Hogweed (a toxic plant which is a hazard to the public across the whole river catchment) this work took 12 staff and volunteer days, where we treated and GPS located 2350 plants
• The removal of other Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) species such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed
• The creation of passing places, sightlines and path broadening works to enable better social distancing on the Walkway and maintain path widths by controlling vegetation growth
• Small scale but frequent volunteering activities to deal with the issues of littering, damage from parties and BBQs, tree falls and vandalism which persist along the river.
• Habitat Management works on Biodiversity Boost sites and survey work to monitor the success of our projects
• Delivered 3 boat-based clean-ups of the boom and basin areas in LeithMost importantly of all the delivery of regular tasks is helping to combat the loneliness and isolation of individuals from our volunteer team.
Keeping active, healthy and in touch with our team has been a lifeline to the 80 volunteers who signed up to be part of our Covid Secure Hit Squad. To date this year we have delivered 131 small volunteering tasks with this Covid secure Hit Squad team which has amounted to 1265 hours – over half of these tasks were spent maintaining the walkway with the rest supporting litter removal, habitat management and invasive species removal. In addition, we have developed a protocol to bring back youth volunteering and have supported 12 tasks with the ‘Roots Programme’ and have been working on tasks with The Green Team and Citadel Youth Centre. An average of 4.75 tasks per week since April. A scroll through Twitter shows what we have been up to on an almost daily basis https://twitter.com/WOLCT