A Year of Returns by Ranger Johnny

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As we draw to the end of year it’s natural to look back on what has been, for myself it’s now coming up to three years in post. Something of an experience considering my first WOLCT volunteer session in Jan 2020  involved 23 people and was shortly followed by covid lockdowns, furlough, starting working again but with a maximum of two volunteers at a time , more lockdowns and coming full circle to being out again with 23 people again doing a clean up around Leith.

This year it feels like we’ve really been able to harness again the love that people have for the river, both the local communities it runs through but all those that discovered it during their lockdown walks.. Already this financial year we have completed over 5,000 hours of practical volunteering on the river and on the walkway.

With this amount of volunteer power we have:

Waded from Balerno to Leith five times, which is over 60 miles, targeting Giant Hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Japanese Knotweed and rubbish to protect the biodiversity and health of the river.

Been out in the boat at Leith 12 times cleaning the basin of hundreds of dog balls, plastic bottles, drinks can, foam insulation, traffic cones and much much more before it can get out to sea.

Done over a 1,000 hours on the walkway raking leaves, cutting back vegetation and clearing drainage to improve it for users

Expanded our scything and surveying teams with specialised training to identify species and tend our eight wildflower meadows better

Surveyed 56 Giant Hogweed plots as part of a research project with Edinburgh Napier to reduce the use of chemicals in its treatment

Held social outings for our volunteers doing tasting session at Moonwake Brewery, Lind & Lime Gin  and of course the return of our annual Xmas Quiz at the visitor centre

Patrolled the river over 250 times – looking for issues, counting users and spotting wildlife

Sent over 900 tweets, generated 50 blog / news stories and 150 facebook posts – celebrating volunteers work and the river’s wildlife

Eaten so many biscuits during tea breaks we could sink a boat.

Had a whole lot of fun making a difference to the natural world.

We are already looking forward to even more more volunteer opportunities in 2023 so come along and get involved.

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