Croft Woodlands Project - advice on offer

Posted Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Croft Woodlands Project aims to help create 500 hectares of new woodland on croft land by 2020. For more information about planting trees or managing woodland on crofted land email or call 0343 770 5847. 

Lochaber Environmental Group Zero Waste Project is out and about

Posted Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Lochaber Environmental Group’s Zero Waste Project is gearing up for European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR).
EWWR is the biggest waste campaign of its kind in the world with countries from all over Europe taking part, and is co-ordinated in Scotland by Zero Waste Scotland.  The theme for this year’s campaign is cutting food waste, and Zero Waste Scotland is calling on people across Scotland to get involved and reduce their household food waste.  
Avoidable food waste costs Scotland £1.1billion a year. One fifth of the food we buy every year ends up being thrown away! The ZeroWaste Lochaber team will be providing practical advice on how householders can reduce their food waste and save money during EWWR at several events across Lochaber.

They will be at: 
  • Taste Lochaber at the college on Saturday the 21st of November 
  • Cameron Square in Fort William High Street on Wednesday the 25th of November in partnership with the Highland Council
  • Fort William Christmas Fayre Friday 27th of November providing information, advice and tools to help householders cut down on their food waste. 

If you would like to find out more about how to reduce your food waste please get in contact with us at

Food for Life Education Framework information sessions around Highland

Posted Thursday, October 29, 2015

If you’re interested in how a whole-school approach to food and food education can enrich the learning in your school and wider community, Food for Life is for you.
Complementing the Food for Life Catering Mark-awarded meals being served in many Highland schools, the Food for Life Scotland Education Framework is designed to help schools explore, understand, take action on, and celebrate the many ways in which food is intertwined with every aspect of our lives; including our own health and well-being, and the health and well-being of our local and global communities, economies and environments.
Food for Life will be running information sessions in the following locations on the following dates:
  • Monday 23rd November at Lochaber High School, Camaghael, Fort William, PH33 7ND
  • Tuesday 24th November at Millburn Academy, Diriebught Road, Inverness, IV2 3QR
  • Wednesday 25th November at Highland Council’s Offices, Drummuie, Golspie, KW10 6TA                                     
  • Thursday 26th November at Wick High School, West Banks Avenue, Wick, KW1 5LU
All sessions will run from 16.00 – 17.15
Photograph of Rosebank School Health day is from the Food for Life website 


Big Energy Saving Week can help you to save money too

Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It's Big Energy Saving week and there's lots of tips on how to reduce energy use on the Energy Savings Trust website
You can also make sure that you're not paying too much or missing out on any benefits or support that could help you manage your bills by calling Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282. 
Or go along to you local Citizen Advice centre  for more fuel and money saving advice.

UK energy map

Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Carbon Brief has published their new interactive UK Energy Map. At a glance, you can now see the various sources of power generation across the UK, both in terms of their precise location and at the scale of their generating capacity. The information includes graphs for energy trends and for climate change showing key indicators, such as global emissions and sea level rise, and Carbon Brief will update them as new data is published.
Photograph is from 

Marine Scotland would like to hear from you

Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Marine Scotland is seeking people who take part in long distance swimming, coasteering, land yachting, SCUBA diving, surfing / wind surfing, rowing / sculling, water skiing, to make sure these activities are properly reflected in the survey results. Of course, we would also like to hear from people who enjoy more popular activities such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, bird and wildlife watching.
Marine Scotland’s national survey of coastal and marine recreation and tourism has received nearly 2,000 completed surveys across 22 activities, but they’d like even more. The survey is open until 31st October and can be completed online at:  It works best on laptop/desktop computers, rather than tablets or smartphones, due to the map-based sections of the survey.
There’s a separate survey for businesses involved in marine recreation and tourism. This survey is targeted at anyone who relies on the marine environment for their business – from a bed and breakfast owner in a coastal town to a tour operator. Currently, more than 200 business surveys have been completed. This survey can be accessed at:
Everyone who completes the survey of marine recreation and tourism activity will have the opportunity to enter a free prize draw with prizes that include:
o   A short break in one of Scottish Canals’ holiday cottages
o   Spa Day Experience for two guests at Portavadie’s new Spa
o   Family tickets for Inveraray Jail and Inveraray Castle
o   Two Return Tickets for the Kintyre Express fast passenger ferry from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland

For more information, please contact: Sarah Brown, 07774 160931,  or Nick James, LUC, 07973 631307

Spaces available on Forest School Practitioner training course

Posted Thursday, October 15, 2015

There are still spaces on the Forest School Practitioner training course to be held at Dunstaffnage, Oban from 16th to 20th November and on 28th and 29th November.
It’s for those interested in running Forest School sessions with children, young people or adults. It is for rangers, teachers, support workers and others who have experience of working with groups. The courses are small and friendly with experienced trainers. A mixture of indoor theory and outdoor practical work.
There are places remaining on the November intake of the Forest School Leader training being run by ecologist and trainer, Ross Preston of Rowan Ecology and Education Support. Ross and Janie have been involved in environmental education for many years and in Forest School in Scotland since it started in 2004. They were trained by Gordon Woodall who brought the movement to the UK.

Dates: each day (approx. 9-5pm) Monday 16th – Friday 20th November and Saturday and Sunday 28/29th November. There will be a further student support day (optional but recommended) which will be organised with the students once their self-directed study is under way.  
Cost: £700 including college registration and course materials
Please see for further details and links to information about Forest School.
To enquire about booking please send an email to or call 01631 567326 or all Ross on 07788 190503

The First Thirty Years - Laurie Campbell's Scottish Nature Photography

Posted Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Venue: Eden Court Inverness -  La Scala Cinema
Wednesday 14 October 2015 – 7.30 pm
A two-part presentation which charts the career of one of Scotland's first professional nature photographers beginning with previously unseen images of everyday subjects close to his home in the Scottish Borders and the Highlands. It will also include a selection of work from the recently published book: 'Otters Return to the River' documenting the return of otters to the Tweed river system over a twenty year period.
After an interval, the second part of the evening's presentation will show the results from an on-going project on the North Harris Estate where Laurie is working on a commission to photograph the wildlife, landscape and a little of the culture of this wild and beautiful part of Scotland.
Included in this section will be tales describing his experiences of photographing golden eagles in winter and then from a tiny camouflaged hide thirty feet away on a cliff ledge overlooking their eyrie where he captured some of the most intimate photographs ever taken of golden eagles at the nest.
Eagles have been a passion for Laurie throughout his career, not least because of the difficulties of getting close-up pictures of wild birds. His methods are the opposite of what he calls the ‘pay and display’ approach that some people take to photographing species such as eagles and ospreys.

“Some folk hire a falconer to fly an eagle near them,” he says, “or pay for use of a hide by a trout pond.

“But for me, photographing nature is about slowing down and tuning in to a subject, not getting a quick image fix. From my own small hides, I always tend to see far more than I can photograph. And by spending many hours there, I’m less likely to disturb the wildlife I’m hoping to portray.”

Laurie still reckons there are many new kinds of images he’s yet to take: “Some of my work, especially with eagles – photographing them at a distance – still feels pioneering. 


Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems Conference

Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The first ever Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) Conference in the Highlands will take place on Friday the 27th November at the Council Chamber in the Highland Council Headquarters on Glenurquhart Road. The conference will start at 10am (registration from 9.30am) and finish at 3.30pm. It is a free event and lunch will be provided.
This conference will look at the progress of SUDS in Scotland and the Highlands and discuss how they can be improved in terms of design, siting and construction to maximise their benefits to people and wildlife. The potential effect of SUDS beyond a development site will be discussed, particularly how they could integrate with and enhance the development of a Green Network in and around urban development.
We have confirmed our main speakers. They are;

  • Dr Brian D’Arcy, one of the foremost experts in SUDS and Green Infrastructure in the UK. He will be discussing 'Optimising SUDS practice for wildlife interest'. See Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum 
  • Dr Rebecca Wade of Abertay University another leading expert in SUDS. Dr Wade will be talking about the multiple benefits of SUDS. See
  • Marcia Rae, a graduate working on a joint Highland Council and SNH project looking at the biodiversity value or SUDS ponds in Inverness and their ecological connectivity. This is the first comprehensive survey of its kind in Scotland and Marcia will be presenting her findings at this conference. 
  • There will also be an update from Tayside and their Amphibian and Ponds Project.

Dr Stuart Black, the Director of Planning and Infrastructure at Highland Council will open the conference and Joe Moore the Director of Corporate Services at SNH will Chair the afternoon of the Conference. In the afternoon there will be workshops discussing how to take all the research and policy and ensure its effective delivery on the ground.
To book your place contact Caroline Vawdrey at

Scottish Biodiversity News

Posted Monday, October 05, 2015

Read the Scottish Biodiversity Newsletter which includes an article on the new ‘Atlas of Living Scotland’ contributors to which include contributing data to the Atlas include national and regional biological recording schemes and societies, research and educational institutions, Local Environmental Records Centres, ecological consultancies, museums, botanic gardens and community groups. 

The Atlas brings together biological data, merges them with other environmental data such as spatial layers for soil, climate and habitats and allows online analysis and interrogation. The Atlas will have a spatial portal with analysis tools to enable users to
intersect environmental data and biological occurrence data and to generate in-depth site
reports. Users will also be able to perform species distribution modelling to predict changes to the spatial ranges of species as a result of environmental changes.

Taking a look at the Atlas will also reveal just how important it is to get your data in, so that the distribution maps can be meaningful.

Your Cash Your Caithness

Posted Monday, October 05, 2015

Community and voluntary groups across the north are invited to apply for funding to put their ideas into action and bring benefits to their local communities. Caithness Members of The Highland Council have set aside £30k from the Ward Discretionary Budget to let the local community decide for themselves which projects are needed in their area Whether you want to organise a dance for young people, a healthy living project, a crime prevention idea, a lunch club for older residents, a community art project, all ideas, large and small are welcome.

Any local community, voluntary or non-profit organisation, even informal groups, can apply for up to £3,000. To be valid all activities will have to happen in Caithness and benefit local people.

Applications must be submitted before 5pm on Monday 19 October.  If your idea fits, the community will get the opportunity to vote for the best ideas at an event to be held on Saturday 21st November 2015 in the Pulteney Centre, Huddart Street, Wick from 10am.

At this event applicants will be required to present their idea to the community. Those attending will then have the chance to vote on all the applications and a decision will be made on the day.

Application forms can be accessed online from the Highland Council website at  or by contacting 01955609960 Caithness Voluntary Group or 07557918564, Sinclair Bay Community Council who will also be able to provide information and assistance with the application process.


Posted Thursday, October 01, 2015

We said many thanks to retiring HEN Directors Bob Bull and Kendra Turnbull  and welcomed three new Directors : Andy Ford, Archie Prentice and Terry Stebbings. who join the current directors: Vanessa Halhead (Chair), Alison Craig (Vice-chair), Suzanne Barr (Secretary) and Andy Mohun (Treasurer).

We’ve a busy time ahead planning HENs future - so many thanks have to go to them all.

Bee Diverse with Keep Scotland Beautiful

Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Keep Scotland Beautiful Bee Diverse campaign aims to encourage and enable communities to plant for pollinators, specifically bumblebees and butterflies, to encourage biodiversity. By offering community groups, organisations, schools and individuals the opportunity to apply for and receive native seeds to help butterflies and bumblebees flourish, as well as resources to inform groups and individuals about what they are planting, how to maintain and benefit from their plants, and why this is important, this campaign hopes to reconnect people with their environment, learn a little about biodiversity through the help of online resources, and create a healthy and diverse outdoor space for their communities and themselves to enjoy.

For more information contact Pamitta Mall 

Highland Biodiversity Action Plan 2015 to 2020 launched

Posted Thursday, September 24, 2015

A new plan to help wildlife was launched yesterday at the Highland Environment Forum’s September meeting in Inverness.

Highland Nature: The Biodiversity Action Plan will help target resources to address 33 wildlife priorities which have been identified under headings ranging from the sustainable management of habitats and species, to taking biodiversity into account during building and maintenance works, to delivering local projects, raising awareness, tackling invasive non-native species and improving the management and sharing of biological records.

The Highland Biodiversity Forum (HEF) is made up of nearly 50 organisations, groups and bodies that have come together to foster and co-ordinate environmental activity across Highland. Chairperson George Hogg said: “This revision is the result of much discussion and thinking by many people across Highland.  I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its development.  The challenge for all of us now is to get on and deliver it!”

This is the third Highland Biodiversity Action Plan.  It provides an update on progress made to deliver the last Plan.  Over half (13/24) of the projects proposed have been delivered or are underway making good progress, with key successes being made under the headings of invasive non-native species and awareness-raising.

Projects to control Rhododendron, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, Giant hogweed and American mink have been taking place across Highland.  The Highland Invasive Species Forum helps partners to share good practice and plan future work to achieve the greatest effect.

The Highland Seashore Project is also noteworthy as a very successful awareness-raising project.  The project is due to end in December 2015, and it is hoped that further funding can be found to build on its successes through a future project focusing on the wider marine environment.

The new Plan identifies 33 priorities for future work.  For each, a number of projects have been identified, with a lead partner taking on the responsibility to work with other HEF members to deliver action over the next five years. Some projects are already underway or can be delivered through existing work programmes.  Others will require additional funding and resources.  Progress will be reported back to the Highland Environment Forum annually, along with reasons for any delay. It is hoped that by working together the partners will be able to improve habitats, protect species, raise awareness and provide support for groups and volunteers wishing to help Highland’s wildlife.

The Plan can be viewed on the biodiversity webpage.  Paper copies are available from Biodiversity Officers Jonathan Willet and Janet Bromham, tel 01463 702274 e-mail

Highland Invasive Species Forum meeting

Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Find out about current approaches to invasive non-native species control at the Highland Invasive Species Forum which will be meeting in the Lovat Arms, Beauty on 9th October.

The agenda for the day includes accounts of invasive species control in the Inner Moray Firth, and a Highland Squirrel Group update. There will also be a talk on, and demonstration of, using a drone for remote habitat mapping.

There will be the chance to learn from Spanish experience of removing invasive species from Pyrenean rivers and site visits to look at Rhododendron and Japanese Knotweed control. 

And a special mention should be made of the scones and lunch on offer!

If you would like to come along, please book with Caroline Vawdrey at or 07733771186


9.30 – 10

Registration – Tea, Coffee and Scones

10 – 10.10

Chairman’s Introduction

10.10– 10.40

Invasive Fish Removal in the Pyrenees – Alex Miro SNH

10.40 – 11.00

Droning On: Habitat Mapping with New Technology – Bob Laughton. Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie Fisheries Trust.

11.00 – 11.20

National INNS Update – Jonathan Willet

11.20 – 11.40


11.40 – 12.00

A Landfill-funded project to control INNPS in the Inner Moray Firth - John Parrott

12.00 – 12.10

NTS work on INNS on Their Estate – Rob Dewar. NTS

12.10 – 12.20

Highland Squirrel Group Update – Ian Collier

12.20 – 12.30

HISF sub-group work streams – Jonathan Willet

12.30 – 12.50

Discussion and Questions

12.50 – 2

Lunch – Soup and sandwiches

2 – 4.00

Site Visits; Ruttle Wood (Rhododendron stem injection) and Beauly (Japanese Knotweed stem injection).

Drone demonstration

4.00 – 4.30

Tea, Coffee, biscuits and departure.


Exciting opportunities with HEN!

Posted Monday, September 14, 2015

The Highland Environmental Network, is at an exciting time in its development as we work to improve our support of community organisations working to improve our environment – and reach new groups wanting to deliver environmental activity perhaps for the first time. We want to help groups make the right links to access the best advice and share their knowledge with others.
HEN has been extremely busy recently deepening our links with community organisations across Highland through our ‘Working Together’ research project; and with statutory organisations through the Highland Environment Forum, a community planning group. This work includes helping community organisations improve their links with key Highland agencies, and vice versa, to share information on activities and new opportunities.
We’re keen to hear from anyone who wishes to help maintain the momentum HEN has created. We seek volunteers, both as HEN champions and new Board members. Our current Board is highly committed, active and experienced and we have the benefit of having an extremely able and enthusiastic Project Officer, Caroline Vawdrey. If you wish to hear more, please contact Caroline at
Our HEN AGM is on 22nd September at 18.00 in Glachbeg Croft Education Centre, Black Isle. 
Vanessa Halhead, HEN Chair, on behalf of the HEN Board

Warmer Homes Scotland and Low Carbon Infrastructure Programme

Posted Monday, September 07, 2015

Warmer Homes Scotland and HEEPS Loan scheme are open for applications - Both schemes are designed to help people make their homes warmer and more comfortable by installing a range of energy saving measures.  For more information contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme supports programmes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of the types of work that the programme will consider include: energy efficiency, low carbon and/or renewable generation, recycling and re-use, local finance solutions, community benefit.

Scottish Land Festival @ Abriachan ~ Sunday 30th August

Posted Thursday, August 27, 2015

Go along to  Abriachan Forest this Sunday to celebrate community land ownership and discuss land reform.

Speakers at the festival will be Peter Peacock of Community Land Scotland, Lesley Riddoch, Angus McCall of Scottish Tenant Farmers, Liz Paul of Women for Independence, Isla O'Reilly of Highland Greens and Jen Stout of Scottish Land Action Movement.

The festival takes place from 10.00am to 3.00pm

Or take a look at their Facebook page 

Green Highland Homes for you to visit

Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015

You'll be able to visit over 30 Highlands and Islands homes and  a wide range of community events during Green Home Energy Week, which runs from 5th to 13th September.
Green Home Energy Week gives you the chance to  find out what it’s like to live in a home with energy efficiency improvements and renewables systems. The homes feature a broad range of low cost and innovative energy efficiency improvements including solar powered heating, wind turbines, heat pumps, biomass boilers, wall insulation, loft insulation and everything in between. 
Register for a visit and you'll be able to chat to green homeowners about their experiences, and find out more about the free advice and support available to help you make your home more energy efficient.
The community events, being held on the Black Isle, and in Elphin, Lochaber, Kingussie and Nairn, give more opportunities to find out more about these technologies, meet the installers and find out how to save money at the ‘Billbuster' sessions.
The Green Home Energy Week website has an easily searchable map to help you find community events and green homes in your area -  and register to visit. 

Help Soirbheas win £40K towards their hydro scheme

Posted Monday, August 17, 2015

Voting opens today for the M & S fund to support local energy production, and community company, Soirbheas, are asking for your help to secure a potential £40K towards their hydro scheme, at Shenval, near Drumnadrochit. If successful the scheme will generate both electricity and income for the community.

Support from Soirbheas has helped local groups and organisations to buy much needed equipment ranging from small items such as sports kit to significant installations such as solar panels for a public hall. A range of arts, sport and heritage projects are supported as well as activities including social and educational trips for the young and old. Soirbheas also helps with training, research on assistance required and is currently looking at the roll out of high speed broadband to those areas that will be beyond BT’s reach.

The Shenval Hydro scheme has local support and the developer of the project, Green Highland Renewables Ltd, has already secured planning permission for the scheme, which will utilise the Allt Seanabhaile burn on Forestry Commission land near Shenval in Glen Urquhart. Once installed the scheme will have an output of 500KW.

The money generated from this investment will allow Soirbheas to launch a new Apprenticeship Grant Scheme for people aged 18 – 25 years. The scheme will assist young people in gaining a Modern Apprenticeship Qualification and encourage them to stay in the area in addition to supporting local business’ growth by developing skilled staff.

The vote is open until 30th September and the funding support is given to the project that has the most votes.

Highland CCF peer-to-peer network meeting

Posted Friday, August 14, 2015

The third Climate Challenge Fund peer-to-peer network meeting will take place on Wednesday 19th August from 09:30-12:30 at the Spectrum Centre 1 Margaret St, Inverness, Highland IV1 1L
The meeting is an opportunity for community groups taking action on climate change - whether they are CCF funded or not - to come together, share expertise and ideas, and identify ways of working together and supporting each other.  This meeting will also be attended by a representative of Home Energy Scotland, who’ll give an update on the schemes and support available, and discuss how best community groups can access these. 

So if you or your community group is involved in energy efficiency, fuel poverty, food growing, local food, waste reduction or sustainable and active travel, this could be a useful event for you.
For projects who are delivering projects that give energy advice Home Energy Scotland will also be hosting an event in the afternoon from 2pm, at the HES Advice Centre, Fairways House, Inverness. Lunch will be served at the Spectrum Centre immediately following the morning meeting (12:30pm).

You can register directly at  or if you’d like to find out more email Russell Gill at Keep Scotland Beautiful

Chance for young people to get experience in the natural environment

Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Young Scot and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) are looking for 15 young people from across Scotland, aged 14-23, to be part of a new team which will help involve other young people in caring for the natural environment and biodiversity.

This is an opportunity to have fun, improve your skills and make a valuable contribution whilst working collaboratively with other young people and professionals. Activities will include:
  • Taking part in residential trips away and workshops with the team
  • Working with the team to promote young people’s involvement in activities which contribute to SNH’s goals to improve biodiversity
  • Update and provide challenges to SNH and Scottish Government on progress to these goals
  • Act as an advocate for biodiversity at a local, regional and national level

There will be the  chance to run workshops, focus groups or consultations with young people
  • Develop your understanding and knowledge through creative research
  • Opportunity to question, learn from and work with industry experts
  • Opportunity to meet new people from across Scotland
  • Travel & accommodation costs covered

The work will contribute to the Young Scot Youth Achievement Award, Saltire Award and John Muir Award
Find out more at or email Ettie Shattock, SNH Partnership Office on

The deadline for applications is Friday 14th August 2015 at 12pm.

Volunteering in Lochaber

Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2015

With Autumn and Winter fast approaching, now is the perfect time to consider the wide range of volunteering opportunities available in Lochaber.

On Friday 21st August Voluntary Action Lochaber is hosting an informal gathering for anyone considering volunteering.  A number of third sector organisations will be providing information about their activities, from environmental projects to community radio and lots in between.

Come along and find out a little more or arrange a taster session.  There is no commitment to sign up, please just come along to find out more.

Pop in anytime from 10.00 until 12.00 on Friday 21st August at An Drochaid in Claggan.  A free light lunch is available afterwards from 12.00 noon.

For more information please contact Margaret or Helen at Voluntary Action Lochaber on 01397 706044 or

VAL has a list of updated volunteering opportunities in a wide variety of areas why not browse the website on or call us to make an appointment to register. Tel:  01397 706044

Finding and getting funding

Posted Monday, August 10, 2015

Funding Scotland (SCVO) and Signpost have organised two courses to help people from the voluntary/charity and social enterprise sector find out how to get information on relevant funding sources, use online funding searches, target those searches effectively and write a convincing funding application.

The courses take place on Tuesday 8th September in Fairways House, Fairways Business Park, Inverness, IV2 6AA.

‘Finding Funding’ takes place from 10.00 to 12.00 and will include information how to get ready for fundraising, find the best sources of information, use the Funding Scotland search engine and understand fund entries in directories and from online searches. For more details see the SCVO website

‘Perfect match’ takes place from 13.00 to 15.00 and is designed to help organisations describe their work to a funder and make successful funding applications. For more details see the SCVO website

Cost for each course: SCVO and Signpost members: £30, non-members: £50

For more information and to book contact Sandra Hogg @

Phone 01463 251729



Green spaces are good for us

Posted Monday, August 03, 2015

Both the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) are reporting on the the benefits of green spaces.

SEPA news highlights the benefits of green infrastructure (networks of greenspaces - areas of grass, plants and trees) to our health and well being. Not only do they help tackle air and noise pollution, flooding and diffuse water pollution, green infrastructure also provides  places for recreation, active travel, the growing of food and better habitat networks for wildlife.

Scottish research has also shown that self-reported stress is linked to the amount of greenspace in an area. Just being in, or viewing greenspace, for a few minutes can reduce stress.

Green infrastructure can also be cost-saving, in terms of both construction and maintenance costs and - particularly when you take into account the range of multiple benefits - Sustainable drainage schemes (SUDS) to address water quality and flooding problems are a good example of the the additional biodiversity and amenity benefits that can be provided.

The Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum (SGIF) is committed to encouraging green infrastructure development in Scotland. During 2015, SGIF is working on two main projects – 10,000 Rain gardens for Scotland to collect and slow down rainfall movement in urban areas, and their two day conference ‘Green infrastructure: a growing need’ conference on 6 & 7 October as part of Glasgow’s Green 2015.

For more information about SGIF, their projects and the conference have a look at the SGIF website or follow SGIF on twitter: @ScottishGIF

Meanwhile over in the forests research by a University of Dundee PhD student has shown that woodland can help people with early stage dementia. This was a ten week ranger-led pilot activity programme in Callander Wood, Falkirk. Led by Forestry Commission Scotland rangers, it involved three hours of woodland-based activities once a week. These included walks, tree planting, fire lighting and woodland cooking, nature photography, willow sculpting and tree and bird identification.

This innovative approach could compliment traditional health approaches. It offers a chance for participants to stay active and connected with their community, and to keep their independence as long as possible. Given the results, Forestry Commission Scotland plans to roll out the programme to new locations in the future. Read more about the research here.

Bees Knees of a project

Posted Monday, August 03, 2015

In the Cairngorms National Park, Scottish Natural Heritage and local experts, are working on a new monitoring programme  for a very rare bee called the Mountain Mason Bee (Osmia inermis).

Unlike bumblebees or honeybees, the Mountain Mason Bee is solitary and lives on upland species-rich grassland with plenty of bare rock. Once mated, females create their own nests under stones and in rock crevices using chewed plant material.

Artificial nest sites have been created from upturned terracotta dishes, a method developed in Canada. If bees are found using them, we then know for sure that the species is present in an area. If the method works here, testing for their presence will take place in other parts of the Park too.

Take a look here to see more about Cairngorms priority species.

Competition to find young Cairngorms Nature Presenter

Posted Monday, July 27, 2015

The RSPB and Cairngorms Nature have launched a UK-wide search to find a child who is passionate about nature and can inspire others. And the prize to the winner is likely to be an inspiration to them too  -  a day being filmed with BBC nature presenter Iolo Williams, here in the Cairngorms National Park as part of a 5-day Speyside Wildlife holiday for them and their family.

Iolo Williams said, “ I am delighted to be involved in this competition.  In our multi-media age, where the screen is all too often king I want to encourage young people to get outside and be passionate about nature. ”

The competition is open to all 10-16 year olds who are UK residents, all they need to do to enter is to film themselves presenting something in nature.  The film should be no longer than 90 seconds and they must tell the camera why they would like to present Cairngorms Nature to a young audience.

The entries must be uploaded by a parent or guardian and will be shortlisted by a judging panel.  The final eight will be showcased online with the winner being decided by a public vote.

For more information on the competition, how to enter and all the Terms and Conditions please visit


Changeworks Fuel Poverty Conference 2015 to be held in September

Posted Monday, July 27, 2015

The  Changeworks Fuel Poverty Conference 2015 will be held on 23 September 2015 in Edinburgh. The conference will bring together people who are at the forefront of tackling fuel poverty in Scotland, from policy makers and service managers to frontline staff.
The conference will promote and celebrate the work already underway in Scotland to reduce fuel poverty, identify potential opportunities to improve on where we are now, and look to the future at what we can do collectively to continue to help those most in need.
With a mix of keynote speakers – including Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare – presentations and workshops, conference delegates will explore key subjects related to fuel poverty.
Topics will include:

  • Clients’ personal stories and experiences of fuel poverty
  • Policy and strategic based approaches to tackling fuel poverty – the thinking behind the decision making
  • Working with hard to reach households and minority groups
  • Identifying the links between fuel poverty and health
  • Projects which demonstrate best practice tackling fuel poverty
  • Approaches to tackling fuel poverty in rural areas
  • Grants and schemes currently available to tackle fuel poverty
  • Behaviour change and its potential impact
  • Where the gaps are in fuel poverty work and what opportunities they present.

Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme funding

Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme is part of the Scottish Government's target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 and has £76m to spend over a three-year period. 

The programme is a working partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and sector specialists and supports businesses, third sector and community groups in developing business cases to allow them to secure existing streams of public and private capital finance.

Projects will be expected to provide full details in the application form, with supporting financial information, demonstrating how the project meets the required eligibility criteria. The projects will then be assessed by the project team.

The programme will consider support for projects in the following areas:
  • Low carbon and/or renewable electricity and heat generation
  • Local energy economies
  • Heat recovery (e.g. district heating)
  • Energy storage and distributed energy systems
  • Hydrogen, demand side management and active network management
  • Innovative/ local finance solutions and investor readiness for low carbon projects
  • Energy efficiency (e.g. non-domestic building retrofit)
  • Resource efficiency materials recycling and re-use
  • Community involvement and/or potential for community investment
  • The ability to demonstrate directly the added benefits that can be delivered through LCITP support

Full details of the application criteria and process can be found on the Scottish Government website 

Apply for energy outreach funding

Posted Monday, June 29, 2015

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change have a new initiative to fund groups to provide energy advice.

The Big Energy Saving Network Grant Fund is a £1 million programme to support third sector organisations and community groups delivering energy saving help and advice to vulnerable consumers.
Each successful grant is for £5000 per champion (outreach person), and organisations can nominate single or multiple champions each leading and delivering their own programme of outreach, or working together as a defined group of Champions to deliver a collective programme in a geographic area

The Network provides dedicated training for nominated Champion(s) to support outreach activities and events to provide help and advice to vulnerable consumers. 

The grant can be used to cover costs incurred in running public events and/or making home visits, including staff time, venue hire, travel and publicity costs.
The application form and guidance notes are available for download here. The deadline for completed applications is 10pm, 17 July 2015. 

Carbon CLEVER commuting

Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2015

With long days, and even a little warmth on occasion, there can be no better time of year to think about how to make your work commute more Carbon CLEVER, and the webpages set up by the Highland Council’s climate change team are packed full of information on how to do this.

From taking public transport, to car sharing or walking and cycling the webpages have numerous links to useful websites -  meaning that you can find cycle friendly routes at the click of a button, learn how to repair your bike,  get links to public transport timetables or find out about lift share schemes in the Highlands.

And for those of you who would like to cut down on travel the good news is that using phone or video conferencing, and working from home are all excellent for the environment too.

SEPA would like your views on the environment

Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is keen to hear your views about the environment and how you interact with it.
- How important is the environment to you?
- How does the environment help us in our day to day lives?
- To what extent do you feel involved in decisions about the environment? - How do you currently help to look after the environment?
- What could help you to do more to look after the environment?

Join us for a light buffet and a fun, interactive and informative workshop on Saturday June 20th in Dingwall at the National Hotel in Dingwall (High Street, Dingwall, IV15 9HA) from 10am-12.30pm plus lunch.

To say thanks for taking part you’ll receive a £20 shopping voucher at the end of the workshop.

Translation services can be provided as required if requested at least 72 hours in advance.

Please register your interest at or by telephoning Hannah on 0131 225 5600.

Scot Hatch through to semi-finals of Virgin Media pitch to rich

Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015

You may remember that our spring newsletter 'Good Food, Local Food' included an article about Scot Hatch and their plans for scallop ranching over at Gairloch. Well, the good news is that thanks to your support they are through to the semi-finals of the Virgin Media 'Pitch to Rich'.
So now they need your support again, to get them through to the finals. To do that, click here and cast your vote. 
To add to the incentive to vote Virgin Media are offering a prize of £10,000 to one lucky voter. 

Get bids in to the Highland Carbon Clever Community Fund

Posted Friday, June 05, 2015

The first of the Carbon Clever community fund deadlines is coming up this month. If you live in Skye, Ross & Cromarty your application needs to be with the Carbon Clever team by 24 June.

The fund is a pot of £200,000 to be distributed around the Highlands to communities with plans to reduce carbon consumption. It is a capital grant fund, and so the projects need to include at least £6,000 of capital expenditure. Keith Masson, a member of the climate change team, has put together some guidance on what qualifies for the grant. 

Other than that, the terms of the community fund are very broad, but proposed projects need to show:
  • Carbon reduction
  • Leadership
  • Engagement
  • Value for money
  • Economic benefit
  • Raise awareness and promote behaviour change

The closing dates for the rest of the Highlands are:
  • Lochaber - 14 July, 2015
  • City of Inverness - 30 July, 2015
  • Caithness & Sutherland - 5 August, 2015
  • Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey - 12 August 2015

If you’d like to learn more about the fund, or sound out possible ideas, get in touch with the climate change team on They’re a pretty knowledgeable and helpful bunch!

Trees for Life Conservation and Training days

Posted Thursday, June 04, 2015

There’s lots of opportunities to get involved with Trees for Life conservation days and training days during June:

Wednesday 10th June - Training: Techniques for Monitoring Tree Regeneration 
This course will develop your understanding of the techniques used to monitor the density of natural regeneration, how to identify damage and viability in trees, plus how to identify tree species and assess habitat. Participants must have a basic understanding of common tree ID and numeracy.

Sunday 14th June - Training: Dragonfly Surveying
The surveys will cover dragonfly ID and upland bog and forest lochan sites, reconfirming presence of a Red Data Book endangered species and surveying previously unrecorded sites. No prior knowledge of dragonflies required, but availability on some or all of the following survey dates is greatly desired: June 21st and 28th, July 12th and 26th.

Wednesday 17th June - Conservation: Glen Strathfarrar
Returning to last autumn's planting site to see how the young trees are doing. Work will focus on clearing bracken from around the young trees. There is a steep uphill walk with rough ground.

Wednesday 8th July - Training: Native Tree Seed Collection
Partnering with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Learn how to assess, collect and store native tree seeds and help us contribute to this seed collection for the future. No prior knowledge needed.

Trees for Life have also produced a volunteer handbook, which contains a range of useful information, including what you expect as a volunteer.

Find out more about conservation days on the Trees for Life website.

Join a Conservation Day or training day by contacting Jo and Carol on 01309 691292 or email For any issues on the day of volunteering please call the Conservation Day mobile phone 07780 214464.

Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future

Posted Thursday, June 04, 2015

Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future is the latest publication from the Centre for Alternative technology, at Machynclleth, Wales. The report looks at how, with the political will and collaboration, it should be possible to have a Zero Carbon Britain in Fifteen years.

To achieve this the researchers assume a 60% reduction in power use - through the Powerdown approach. This assumes that industrial energy use remains constant, but that large energy savings are made elsewhere as the result of increased efficiency and behavioural change. The fuel mix for most of the energy supply will be electricity plus solar thermal and geothermal. Biofuels will provide the liquid and gaseous fuel supplies. Land for this will be made available through a reduction in meat consumption; it is also assumed that freight transport will be diminished as a result of us largely growing our own food.

All of these will be familiar aims and scenarios for anyone involved in reducing our impact on the climate. The difficulty for the lay reader is interpreting what might be wishful thinking and what is really achievable in 15 years - but the big vision and the ambitious targets are surely essential if we want to be successful in reducing global warming. 

The report merits detailed consideration and analysis and can be downloaded from the Zero Carbon webpages

Wild fisheries reform consultation

Posted Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Scottish Government is consulting on its wild fisheries reform proposals, which covers the conservation and management of all salmon and fresh water species.

They propose the development of a national strategy for wild fisheries which ‘aligns fish and fisherypriorities with related strategic objectives at a national level, notably tourism, biodiversity, social inclusion etc.’ This will lead to a national fisheries bill. A national research and data strategy is also proposed. 

Currently national fisheries management is undertaken by the Salmon Fisheries Boards (ASFB) and Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS). The consultation proposes a having a new national body and local delivery bodies - the latter are likely to be the current boards and trusts where they exist, with new bodies created where there is no current coverage. 

The proposal is to fund these by expanding the salmon levy to include other commercially beneficial species. This levy will be set and collected nationally and distributed from the national organisation to the local bodies. The levy would be standard across all areas of Scotland, unless special dispensation is received for a locally enhanced levy.

The consultation states that membership of fisheries management organisations should be broadened to represent the full range of interests in wild fisheries and their management at a local  level. Membership would include local authority and other public sector interests in addition to the owners and users of fishing rights.

The intention is that the local fisheries bodies should have charitable status so that they can draw in funds from elsewhere - e.g. SEPA, Europe and supporters.

The consultation document also states that they would like to expand involvement in angling, and recommends that angling bodies get together to support one organisation that can develop this aspect of their work and represent angling interests to government. 

You can download the full Wild Fisheries Reform report and consultation document from the Scottish Government website.

Recycle Week in June

Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015

Workplaces, schools, universities, communities and local authorities are all being encouraged to get involved and run events and campaigns for Recycle Week, which runs from the 22nd to the 26th of June.

The Recycle for Scotland website (run by Zero Waste Scotland) has lots of good ideas how to reduce waste, including the Love Your Clothes webpages   - with lots of ideas from heart shaped darning to making children cloths out of worn adult ones. There’s also lots of practical advice on home composting, reducing your waste in five easy steps and much more.

Recycle for Scotland have also produced some support materials to help with running an event, including posters about how materials are transformed through recycling, a video about why recycling is fun, easy and makes a difference and art work for t-shirts and pull up banners. And if you want to keep people busy, they’ve a Recycling on the Go quiz.

You can your events on and they’ll promote your activity in press and media and on their Facebook and pages.

To find out more about any aspect of Recycle Week, get in touch with Andrew Pankhurst on 07702 976601 or email

Should rape seed be treated with neonicotinoids pesticides?

Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The NFU are concerned that 5% of rape seed oil crops have been lost this season and are asking government to allow farmers in England and Wales to plant seed treated with neonicotinoids pesticides this autumn. In Scotland the Scottish Wildlife Trust are calling on the Scottish Government to permanently ban neonicotinoids, in order to prevent any such pressure to overturn the temporary European restrictions on this pesticide range. 

In support of their stance, the NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly stated: 

“It has already been increasingly difficult for arable farmers to control problems like cabbage stem flea beetle and turnip yellows virus (spread by peach potato aphids) as well as many weed species such as blackgrass due to the reduced number of products available for control and resistance developing against those products that remain.

“The problem will only get worse if more products go, with vast ‘unintended’ consequences for farmers and wider society.”

But the Bee Coalition made up of many of the UKs conservation bodies including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Buglife and Pesticide Action Network UK strongly disagree.

Head of Policy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Dr Maggie Keegan, said: “There is very clear evidence that these toxic chemicals harm wild pollinators and honeybees. Pollination is vital for many Scottish crops and is estimated to be worth at least £43 million per year to Scotland’s economy.

“To continue to use chemicals which kill off these wonderful creatures that provide this free service is not a smart move and would be disastrous for pollinators, other wildlife and ultimately  farming ecosystems. The Scottish Wildlife Trust wants to see the Scottish Government ban neonicotinoids permanently and hopes the UK Government makes the same decision.”

The Scottish Wildlife Trust briefing paper on neonicotinoids clearly sums up the dangers of this suite of pesticides.

Sprayed on to plants: ’… the insecticide works on the insect’s nervous system, binding with nerve receptors, resulting in paralysis and death of the insect. This neural pathway is more abundant in insects than mammals and birds making the chemical much more toxic to insects.’

And used as a seed coating: ‘Reaching all parts of the plant, the insecticide also contaminates the crop’s pollen and nectar sources. This means that non-target pollinating insects such as honey bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and other insects that feed on nectar such as butterflies, are exposed to the neurotoxin when the crop flowers- albeit in minute quantities. 

Although the dosage is too small to kill insect pollinators outright, there is a growing body of evidence,3 4 using field- realistic dosages of the insecticide, that shows that ‘sub-lethal’ doses affects the survival of honey bees and bumble bees by interfering with foraging behaviour and foraging efficiency.’

And crops can be successfully grown without these chemicals. As Peter Lungren, a Lincolnshire  farmer told the RSPB: “So far I am managing well without neonicotinoids and I am constantly looking to improve my system further. Any pesticide can have unwanted impacts, but with sprays these can be minimised by following best practice, like only spraying if pest thresholds are exceeded. For me this is one of the advantages of moving away from seed treatments, where you have to make a decision even before the growing season starts.  

'And the cost to my business of not using neonicotinoid seed treatment is minimal - just £2.20 per hectare. As far as I’m concerned this cost is outweighed by the importance of conserving our pollinator populations.’

Farmers across Europe can also take part in the European Bee Award for pollinator friendly farming practices, which is run by the European Landowners Organisations. Find out more on the Rural Gateway website.


Transition Scotland and Scottish Communities Climate Action Network share resources

Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network and Transition Scotland are sharing their free online resources, and eventually plan to merge their maps of groups, to make it easier to find out what's happening in your area.

Transition Scotland offers resources to guide you through processes to encourage sustainable action and to help you to think a little bit wider than just carbon savings.
It can be inspiring to think big and see how many problems can be tackled at the same time with a well planned project. What about your local economy & jobs? Are you considering how you personally are transitioning and coping with the changes taking place? The Transition Network has an international ‘hub’ model which has some financial support too. Scottish Communities CAN and Transition Scotland are discussing how to work together so that nobody feels they are operating in isolation. 
If you wish to know more about Transition Scotland, get in touch with

Environmental skills offered in exchange for work experience

Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015

UHI student Robert Morrison is looking for some work experience where he can use his environmental skills. Robert outlines his experience and hopes below:
'I am a full time student entering my final year of Archaeology and Environmental Science BSc (Honours) with the University of The Highlands and Islands. I have achieved a 2:1 throughout the course and am projected to achieve that at a minimum next year. I am looking to secure experience of an environmental consultant role through an internship or work experience which I hope will further develop my analytical skills, research skills and knowledge in a practical and fast paced environment. My job experience is limited however my notable modules at University include Ecological Principles, Collecting and Analysing Data, Introduction to GIS, Environmental Conservation, Management of The Marine Resource, Globalisation and Sustainable Development, Research Skills and Project, Strategic Environmental Monitoring. I am extremely keen to gain experience in the Environmental sector and would appreciate contact if any opportunities are available.'
You can contact Rob here

Domestic renewables funding still available from Home Energy Scotland

Posted Thursday, May 21, 2015

Funding is still available for home renewables and district heating schemes, and will be on offer on a first come first served basis. Details can be found on the Energy Savings Trust website.

What is available under the scheme?

For renewables systems - up to 75 per cent of the total cost of renewables systems up to £10,000 .
For district heating scheme connections - up to 100 per cent of the total cost of connecting to a district heating scheme up to £5,000.
Please note:

The amount borrowed, and repayment period depends on the technology being installed. 

Who can apply?

Loans are available to owner occupiers in Scotland for residential existing buildings and new buildings under construction where the property is already owned by the intended owner occupier.

To find out more and get some expert advice speak to Home Energy Scotland free on 0808 808 2282 

Free audit, a specialist advisor for your business and loans to improve energy and water efficiency from Resource Efficient Scotland

Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Resource Efficient Scotland is offering several strands of support to small and medium businesses wanting to improve their energy and water efficiency. 

They offer a free and confidential audit on how to use a loan to cut operating costs and improve profitability - advice which the Boat Hotel in Boat of Garten used to install a biomass boiler, saving money and CO2.  Click here to read this full case study and others, including the Aros Centre on Skye and Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland 

Loans are available from £1k to £100k to help businesses reduce costs through improved energy, material resource and/or water efficiency. Scottish small and medium businesses, private sector landlords, not-for-profit organisations and charities are all eligible to apply. Loans are interest free (unless you are applying for a renewable technology and will receive Feed-in Tariff or Renewable Heat Incentive, in which case the interest rate is 5 per cent).
Applications for a loan must be supported by a Green Deal assessment, or a Resource Efficient Scotland report if the projects to be funded are not eligible under Green Deal. The cost of a non-domestic Green Deal assessment can be added to your loan application. Resource Efficient Scotland advisors can provide free further information and help organisations to take of advantage of this opportunity.

Resource Efficient Scotland is also able to pay for the short-term employment of a skilled person to manage the implementation of a resource efficiency project with clearly defined environmental and economic benefits to the organisation(s). Funding from £5,000-£20,000 is available to employ someone for 3-6 months.
The deadline for application for this support is 30th June 2015, and all projects must be completed by 29th January 2016.  Click here for more details. 
If you would like to find out more about these schemes call 0808 808 2268 to find out more or email

Young Reporters Scotland competition launched

Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Young Reporters Scotland programme was launched on Friday 15th May to help young people  aged from 11 - 21 years old to write about environmental and sustainability issues and take action.
The annual quest will see young people Scotland-wide encouraged to get creative and submit a piece of journalism which explores, and proposes a solution to, a sustainability issue within their own community. The competition is open to young people, and it is hoped that colleges and youth groups will take up the 2015 challenge.
The 2015 Young Reporters Scotland competition encourages submissions in an array of media, from video and animation, to articles, blogs and photography. Winners of the Scottish competition will also have the chance to compete at international level - where they can become a part of a network of young people producing creative solutions to environmental issues within their own communities. Submissions need to be in by 30th November.
The support of Tesco’s Single Use Carrier Bag Charge has enabled Keep Scotland Beautiful to develop this programme and support young people across Scotland to take part. 
Tony McElroy, Tesco Communications Manager for Scotland, commented: “It is really important we maximise the benefit of the proceeds of the carrier bag charge. At Tesco we are keen to play our part and help customers and communities. With this project we hope to see a new generation of young people step forward to ask the big questions on the environment, and help provide the further stimulus we need on environmental action.”
The competition welcomes enquiries from young people who are interested in taking part. More information on the competition, ideas and inspiration can be found at 

Council awards contract to Highland Environmental Network

Posted Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Highland Council has awarded a new contract to the Highland Environmental Network (HEN) to publicise environmental information to Highland individuals and organisations.
The Highland Environmental Network was established in 1991 and is a not for profit organisation that aims to connect people who are involved or interested in environmental matters. The Highland Environmental Network is relevant to groups and individuals with an interest in the environment and as a single point through which organisations can communicate acts as a hub to tackle some of the communication challenges in remote and rural areas.
Councillor Maxine Smith, Chair of the Council’s Resources Committee said: “The Council has supported the network since 2009 and I am pleased that we have renewed this agreement until March 2016. In recent years the Highland Environmental Network has shown their ability and expertise in sharing information, facilitating partnerships and supporting community action.”
“HEN is a keen supporter of the Council led Carbon CLEVER initiative, which has a target of a carbon neutral Inverness in a low carbon Highlands by 2025. Through this contract, HEN will be able to conduct additional work to share information, and promote funding and job opportunities, helping the region move towards a Carbon CLEVER future.
“A fantastic network,  HEN is overseen by a passionate board of volunteers, or rather  experts, from a range of environmental organisations who contribute a significant amount of time to make sure the network is a success.”
Alison Craig, Vice Chair of the Highland Environmental Network, said "It is very rewarding to be part of Highland Environmental Network at this time, as we have an excellent Development Officer in the shape of Caroline Vawdrey who has been working hard, with the help of locally based researchers, to extend our understanding of the needs of community organisations delivering environmental projects across Highland through our Working Together research project. In addition we have been successful in our bid to continue to support better engagement between statutory organisations and Highland community organisations. We'd be delighted to hear from anyone who wishes to find out more about HEN".
The Highland Environmental Network's Annual Report 2014-15 is now available online at It outlines a range of activity the network has been involved in over the part year and provides information on the network’s success to date and plans for the future.
The report highlights growth in Network’s membership and displays the continued success of the organisation in developing a reputation for being an informative, reliable networking organisation.
For more information on Carbon CLEVER, please visit or follow on Twitter @Carbon_CLEVER.

Sky dancer watchers wanted

Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scottish Natural Heritage are asking people to help them look out for sky dancers in flight. The name describes the agility and elegance of the male hen harrier as they perform their courtship display. 

But it is both male and female harriers that SNH are asking for help with. The numbers of birds stay worryingly low, with an estimated 500 pairs for the whole of Scotland. They have suffered primarily  through persecution and habitat change

In response Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland) has set up a ‘Heads Up for Harriers’ group, which is raising awareness of this majestic bird, determining the current number of hen harriers in Scotland, and identifying specific threats to their survival.

Professor Des Thompson (Scottish Natural Heritage), Chair of the Heads Up for Harriers Group, said:

“Several national surveys of hen harriers have found they are faring well in some areas, but declining or absent all together in others. In some places, there are no harriers at all because of persecution and a range of other factors. Working within PAW Scotland, we’re trying to develop a clearer picture of the distribution of harriers, and the work needed to improve their prospects.

Douglas McAdam, CEO of Scottish Land & Estates added:

“The Heads Up for Harriers Project is engaging all sectors of the uplands, including land owners and managers, conservation organisations, ornithologists and where necessary enforcement organisations. 

“This year, five of our members in different parts of Scotland are working with SNH staff to use time lapse nest cameras to try to discover reasons why harrier breeding attempts are prone to failure. It is by working together in such projects that we can secure the future of these special birds.”

Email any sightings to us at or call 07767 671973. 

Take the Climate pledge

Posted Thursday, May 07, 2015

Keep Scotland Beautiful is encouraging communities across Scotland to take the climate pledge and to express their support and commitment to taking local action on climate change.
By signing the pledge you will be agreeing to:
  • Take active steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible, collectively and individually
  • Tell people what you are doing and why you are doing it
  • Explore other actions you can take to address climate change and your resilience to it 

The first community to take the pledge was the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust - so let's keep Highland ahead of the game! 
You can find out more on the Keep Scotland Beautiful  website

Scottish Wildcat Action team in place

Posted Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Dr Roo Campbell is the new project manager for Scottish Wildcat Action, based at Scottish Natural Heritage’s Great Glen House in Inverness. He brings with him significant experience of carrying out research on the behaviour and ecology of Scottish wildcats.

Commenting on the project Dr Campbell said “This project is the best chance for survival the Scottish wildcat has ever seen. It is one of the biggest partner-led conservation projects for any native species in Scotland, with more than 20 key organisations involved, and I am delighted to lead such a highly skilled team to take this project forward.”

Four new project officers have been appointed across the priority areas: Matt Wilson is based in the priority area of Morvern and is already a well-regarded wildlife expert; Keri Langridge will be based with the National Trust for Scotland covering the Strathpeffer priority area and brings with her experience of working as an ecological consultant and for Cat’s Protection; Emma Rawling is to be based with Forestry Commission Scotland at Newton, Elgin, covering Strathbogie and Strathavon and has previously co-ordinated community-based projects involving monitoring and trapping of squirrels for the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel’s project.

And Highland Wildlife Park-based Hebe Carus will cover Northern Strathspey and the Angus Glens. Hebe has previously worked with a range of land managers on access and environmental projects.

The partnership project also has an Edinburgh-based communications coordinator in the form of Vicky Macdonald who is based at the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Vicky has a background in third sector communications and marketing.

Scottish Wildcat Action is a five-year project which will focus on the wildcat priority areas outlined in the national action plan and is supported by Heritage Lottery Funding.

The six wildcat priority areas comprise more than 64,000 hectares of wildcat habitat and are:

• Angus Glens

• Strathbogie, Aberdeenshire

• Morvern, Lochaber

• Strathpeffer, Easter Ross

• Strathavon, Moray

• Northern Strathspey

Scottish Wildcat Action will work in the six priority wildcat areas to reduce hybridisation and disease from feral and domestic cats, accidental persecution, and impacts from development.

The is new support available to land managers through the Scottish Rural Development Programme and if landowners are interested in getting involved, the team be able to set up a network of camera traps (motion-sensitive cameras) across these areas to discover more about cats living wild in their area.

The team will also be making contact with local vets and Cat’s Protection branches to co-ordinate a programme of trapping, neutering, vaccinating and releasing feral cats to ensure they do not cross-breed with wildcats.

Roo Campbell added: “We have five years to stop wildcats from disappearing but we need to improve the fortunes for Scottish wildcats in the long term. That means leaving a legacy by reducing the risks from hybridisation and disease, and the chances of accidental harm from predator control activities. Success depends on working with local people to make a difference for the wildcats in their area. Together, we can ensure that the Scottish wildcat survives not just over the next five years but into the future.”

The team would be delighted to hear from people interested in getting involved with the project or with reporting any sightings of wild-living cats in the priority areas, whether feral domestic cats, hybrids or wildcats.

Set up biomass heating

Posted Wednesday, May 06, 2015

If you are interested in installing biomass heating this guide from Resource Efficient Scotland could be useful to you. It is aimed at businesses and organisations - but much of the information will be just as useful to individuals.

Highland Council publishes comprehensive guide to greener Highland travel

Posted Monday, April 27, 2015

The Highland Council Carbon CLEVER team have put together a comprehensive guide to greener travel and commuting. The webpages include everything from bus and ferry timetables to the benefits of walking and flexible working.

It is well worth looking at the different weblinks provided - for instance Cycle Streets can give you a journey plan and maps with an impressive ease and speed -  and seems to work equally as efficiently for planning a journey across town or across Scotland.

Or perhaps Highland Liftshare could be a useful site for you  It can work just as well for single journeys or regular travel.
Time to get on my bike . . . 

New funding for householders to tackle fuel poverty

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Highland Council will be receiving over £2 million to develop and deliver local fuel poverty programmes in their share of £65 million through new funding for the Home Energy Efficiency Programme.

The new funding also includes a loans scheme which offers homeowners interest-free loans of up to £10,000 for energy efficiency measures, and a Cashback scheme which will see £10 million made available to homeowners and private tenants, and £5 million for social landlords to support their tenants.

Through the scheme private sector households will be able to claim up to £5,800 for instalments recommended by an energy advice report, and households in remote areas will be entitled to greater amounts to cover the increased costs they face. In 2014/15 1,700 social landlord tenants benefitted from the Cashback scheme while it delivered 4,000 energy efficiency measures to 3,400 households in the private sector. 

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced the investment on a visit to meet residents from Irvine Housing Association. She said: 

“It is unacceptable that anyone should experience fuel poverty in Scotland which is why we are investing more than £103 million to tackle this issue head on.

“Our new  loan scheme will give homeowners the opportunity to apply for interest-free loans which will make it easier for them to take action and install energy efficiency measures in their properties. The loan can be used alongside the Cashback voucher.

“I’d encourage anyone with fuel poverty concerns to seek free and impartial advice on how they can reduce their energy costs or how to receive support for home insulation, boilers or central heating, by contacting Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.”

“Since 2009 we have allocated over half a billion pounds to make Scotland’s homes more energy efficient with over 700,000 households benefitting from measures like new boilers or insulation. 

“The Scottish Government is determined to tackle the inequalities that exist in our society, and making sure everyone has access to a home where they can be safe and warm, is an essential part of this.”

Advice for applicants is available on the Home Energy Scotland website or at 0808 808 2282.

Community groups: want help with community engagement?

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network is offering 3 days of support from a community engagement expert, fully funded, please apply now.

They are inviting applications from community groups to take part in a project that should benefit them through expert advice and support on climate action community engagement.
This is a pilot project funded by Scottish Government.
Applications forms can be downloaded from the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network website.
Apply by noon on Monday 11 May 2015 for 3 days of support over the summer, with evaluation in August.

Zero Waste Scotland challenge fund for community waste reduction advocates

Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015

Zero Waste Scotland have launched a fund to help with projects that use community engagement to reduce waste through increasing recycling, reducing food waste and expanding product life-cycles by increased re-use, repair and sharing. 

Funding is available for community organisations, private sector and third sector organisations as well as local authorities in Scotland to deliver a strategy of community engagements to enable behaviour change in targeted communities. This will create a network of community advocates and volunteers and will run from July 2015 until 30 June 2017.

The fund will operate on a competitive basis with a closing date of 18 May 2015. Applications will be assessed by a panel soon after this date. This fund is limited with a maximum award of £120,000 per project.

A workshop for potential applicants will be held in Stirling on Thursday 7th May 2015 from 1:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. This provides Zero Waste Scotland with the opportunity to meet potential applicants and present further details on the fund. Potential applicants will have the opportunity to raise questions and seek guidance on their application. 

To register your interest and receive further details on this event email by 3:00PM on Tuesday 5th May 2015. 

The presentation from this workshop will be issued to those that register their details for this fund following the event.

The application form along with our guidance documentation is available by registering your details on the Zero Waste Scotland website.   

The deadline for submission of applications is 1:30 P.M. Monday 18th May 2015.

Please quote VCP215 on all correspondence with regards to this programme. 

Police Scotland wildlife crime campaign

Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Police Scotland have produced a series of striking posters encouraging people to report wildlife crime. The main poster is shown right, but there are also ones relevant to individual subjects/species - such as freshwater pearl mussel, fish poaching and raptor persecution. These can be downloaded at

Still time to apply to the People's Health Trust Active Communities

Posted Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The People’s Health Trust Active Communities fund was recently launched in the north of Scotland.
Active Communities is funding programme for local people wanting to create fairer places to grow, live, work and age.
Active Communities is a funding programme for not-for-profit groups with an income of less than £350,000 a year, or an average of £350,000 over two years, seeking investment of between £5,000 and £50,000 for projects lasting up to two years.
It is looking to invest in projects that support people living in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods and
projects could be almost anything that encourages strong connections between people, and that help people to make their communities or neighbourhoods even better places.  They are looking for small and local projects that are designed and run by local people - this could be just a small group of people on an estate, in a few streets
or villages. They are also looking for great ideas from people with a shared interest  - these ideas could be based in one neighbourhood, or cover a wider area.
The closing date for applications is 1.00pm on Wednesday 15 April 2015.
Find out more and apply on the People's Health Trust website.
Photo from Building Merkinch - one of the projects supported by the People's Health Trust. 

20's Plenty, Talk by Chris Thompson of Living Streets - Inverness

Posted Wednesday, April 08, 2015

How to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages.
A talk by Chris Thompson of 'Living Streets' organised by Highland Cycle Campaign. Followed by a public discussion.

Time: Tuesday 14th April at 8.00pm 
Venue: Spectrum Centre, Farraline Park, Inverness
Free entry

Bids invited to the £250,000 Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund

Posted Thursday, March 19, 2015

The £250,000 Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund has been launched by the Scottish Government to support research into Scotland’s geothermal capacity to meet the energy needs of local communities.   
The Challenge Fund will support feasibility studies exploring the capacity of Scotland’s geothermal resource to meet the energy needs of local communities.  It is aimed at consortia working together to benefit local communities, achieving measurable and sustainable carbon reductions without sacrificing proper consideration of the impacts on the local environment.
The maximum grant award available for each feasibility study is £50,000.  
The deadline for applications is 30 April 2015.  
During March, a number of workshops will be run by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to help potential applicants understand the Challenge Fund objectives, criteria, application and assessment processes.
The Challenge Fund is the first being run as part of the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme which has been designed to support potential projects from across the public, private and community sectors through the various stages of their development
For more information about the challenge fund take a look at the Scottish Government website or contact Johann MacDougall on 0300 244 0930 or at 

Warm Green Halls event at Findon Hall, Culbokie

Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Warm Green Halls event at Findon Hall, Culbokie, Black Isle, Ross-shire, IV7 8JH
23rd March 12 - 2.30pm
Are you looking to make your community hall warmer? If so, Home Energy Scotland in partnership with Rural Direct invite you to their Warm Green Halls event to hear how others have done it and the benefits it brings.
On Monday 23rd March, four community halls will be sharing their story about how they installed a particular renewables technology in their hall and what they learned.
Each hall has chosen a different technology - Findon Hall has installed biomass; West Church Hall Cromarty, an air source heat pump; Hilton Church, solar thermal; and Ardross Hall, a ground source heat pump.
Come along to see Findon Hall’s biomass heating system and energy efficiency measures first-hand; and hear from the other three halls about the benefits of installing their particular type of renewables technology.
To register for this event
·         Email your details to

·         The first six halls to register will receive a donation to hall funds

·         Lunch provided

For more information on the Green Network for Business, please follow this link.

Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) News

Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Some useful information from the Rural Payments and Inspections Division

  • Rural Payments and Services will be unavailable from 9 am on Sunday 15 March.
  • Agri-Environment Climate Scheme and Forestry Grant Scheme. These schemes will now open on Monday 30 March and close on Friday 12 June 2015. 
  • Sporting Estates have been removed from the negative list. 
  • Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS): LFASS is largely unchanged, but please note that active farmers in a Less Favoured Area who are currently unable to access LFASS payments, as they did not meet the conditions of the 2009 historic base year, can now try to apply for support. This means farmers who did not have the right kind of land or stock in 2009, may now be able to access ...the scheme based on eligible land and livestock they maintained in 2013. They will still be required to meet all the scheme eligibility criteria and conditions set out in the full guidance.  Farmers should apply for LFASS on their SAF this year as normal, including those that may now be eligible.  See -…/f…/topics/all-schemes/lfass/

To find out more about all these announcements please see the press release here
Rural Payments and Services downtime
Rural Payments and Services will be unavailable from 9am on Sunday 15 March until Monday 16 March as we get ready to open the SAF online.
Please note that the system will be down every Thursday from 9pm to midnight and also at the same time on Tuesdays for the next three weeks.
We're sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you, however, this is necessary to ensure that we can address any issues affecting the performance of this service.
Rural Payments and Services registration figures
Almost 45% of our 21,000 customers and 66% of our agents have registered and been approved, with over 83% being submitted online. All customers need to register before they can submit their SAF so it's really important that you keep reminding all your members/contacts to register.
SAF preview for agents
We held a web conference on 12 March for agents on the new system for applying for your Single Application Form (SAF). We thought you might find the recording of the web conference useful so here it is:
Guidance updates
  • Less Favoured Area Support Scheme Guidance has now been published.
  • Full Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme guidance is now available.
  • We have added a section on Endorsements to our Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.
  • In addition to the detailed guidance published on Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, we’ve added a step-by-step guide of how to apply for Agri-Environment Climate Scheme to the new Rural Payments and Services system.
  • New rules on Minimum Activity will be published on Monday, 16 March in the Basic Payments Scheme Guidance. We’ll send you the link to this on Monday’s edition of Hub Highlights.
  • We’ve introduced some flexibility to Cross Compliance, allowing farmers to cultivate land in certain situations.  This relates to GAEC 1 and GAEC 7.  
All can be found here:


    The Doreen MacIntyre Paper Prize

    Posted Monday, March 16, 2015

    There is still time to submit your paper saving ideas to the Doreen MacIntyre paper prize.
    Doreen MacIntyre was an internationally-respected expert on forests and other environmental issues whose most recent project involved encouraging the UK’s biggest companies and public sector organisations to use paper more efficiently. To continue the spirit of her work, Reforesting Scotland with the support of the European Environmental Paper Network, is offering a prize for the smartest and most practical idea to stop wasteful paper use, and with the prize money we will help you to make your idea a reality.


    Are you a school pupil with a great idea for how your school could use less paper?  A student with a wizardly technological innovation for paper efficiency? An office worker with a brainwave about how to reduce paper waste in your workplace? Or anyone else with a great idea for how our society can save paper? Taking part in this competition is a win-win situation as you can identify ways to save money whether you win the prize or not!

    Please email up to 500 words about your paper-saving idea to by Tuesday 31 March 2015 to give yourself the chance of winning the funds to put your idea into practice. Simply explain how paper is currently used in your organisation (and, if possible, estimate how much you use per year) and how much your idea would save. Please tell us who would be involved in your plan and how the prize money would help you achieve it.

    The ideas will be judged for being innovative, practical, requiring a modest investment, testable in a real world environment, and likely to achieve measurable reductions in paper use. There are two prizes of £600 each – one for children and one for adults – plus a £400 bonus for the ‘best’ idea. The prize money must be spent on making the idea reality.

    If you want to discuss things before committing effort to a project, contact Mandy Haggith on
    (image from Blue Ribbon digital media) 


    Help to monitor mink

    Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Fisheries Trusts across the Highlands are looking for your help. 

    Mink predation cause devastating damage to water vole and ground nesting bird populations, and burns and rivers can provide the ideal network for to spread along. Rivers and Fisheries Trusts Scotland have been tackling this head on, and have made the observation and dispatch of mink a priority. 

    You can help the Ness-Beauly, Cromarty Firth and Wester Ross and West Sutherland Fisheries Trusts by monitoring a raft, with a clay pad installed, which you look at every ten to fourteen days for footprints left by Mink and/or any other animals. Once a Mink print has been identified, a live trap is installed, any trapped mink are then dispatched by fisheries trust staff. The carcass is then sent to Aberdeen University for analysis. 

    From Wester Ross, Peter Cunningham of the Fisheries Trust reports that three mink have already been caught between Gairloch and Dundonnell this year, and and so volunteers are vital. This view is also shared by all the other Highland Fisheries Trusts. 

    If you would like to volunteer to help these are the people to contact:

    Cromarty Firth: Lynn Brydon  email: tel: 07428 189 161

    Ness and Beauly: Chris Daphne  email:  tel: 01463 783 505

    Spey Foundation: Polly Burns  email: tel: 01340 810841

    Wester Ross: Peter Cunningham -  email: tel: 01445 712 899

    West Sutherland: Shona Marshall  - email:    tel: 01971 502259

    For more details on the Scottish Mink Initiative take a look at their website.

    Your views sought on managing flood risk

    Posted Wednesday, March 04, 2015

    The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are seeking your views on how to manage flood risk.  Working with 14 local authorities they have produced a consultation document that is open for responses until 2nd June.

    A final Flood Risk Management Strategy for each of the 14 Local Plan Districts covering Scotland will be published in December. These strategies will confirm the immediate and future priorities for flood risk management.

    The draft Highland flood risk management plan is available to view here 

    And contains the following sections:

    •  A short overview document defining the Local Plan District, the flood risk authorities involved and a summary of the flood risk.
    •  Local Plan District scale objectives and actions to tackle flooding
    •  River, coastal and surface water flooding chapters, summarised separately for each Local Plan District.
    •  Potentially Vulnerable Area chapters containing; datasheets with information on the source and impact of flooding, and existing actions to manage flood risk; the initial objectives and actions suggested to manage flood risk; a delivery plan developed by the lead local authority that sets out the proposed timescales and funding arrangements for implementation.

    SUDS and amphibians

    Posted Tuesday, March 03, 2015

    Marcia Rae is working with the Highland Council planners and biodiversity officers to look at sustainable urban drainage systems in Inverness. These systems are designed to drain surface water run off, to reduce flooding and improve water quality; techniques can include permeable paving (blocks instead of uniform concrete) to allow water to filter in to the soil, swales, ditches or detention basins to collect large amounts of water before it reaches the river system, and the creation of ponds. These are generally designed to look like natural ponds or wetland areas and are planted with native vegetation and often provide a home for freshwater invertebrates and amphibians like the common frog, toad and newts. 
    Marcia is looking at the quality of SUDS ponds as habitat for amphibians within the city, recording how individual ponds connect to each other, providing information to planners and letting locals know about the ponds and the potential benefits of having them.
    There have been forty sites identified amongst the new developments of Inverness and Culloden which will be surveyed for amphibians, invertebrates and vegetation cover in the coming months. From this a map will be created of all of the sites and how they are connected to other ponds in the area. Currently the project is focussing on Inverness but may include Nairn and the A96 Corridor if time allows.
    Marcia’s first event associated with this project is at Inshes District Park on the 18th of April (1-4pm)  and  will focus on the importance of urban ponds, looking at newts, frogs and other wildlife.

    Highland Carbon CLEVER community fund to be distributed locally

    Posted Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Highland councillors have agreed that the best way to distribute the Carbon CLEVER Community Grant Fund is through the region’s area committees.

    This £200,000 capital fund was agreed last year and is intended to give communities the finance to ‘implement relevant and innovative projects to tackle climate change’. 

    Energy efficiency improvements, low-carbon transport options and creating community growing spaces are examples of the types of projects that the fund can support. There will be a call for applications from 2nd March 2015 onwards with closing dates for applications, from 24th June onwards, depending on the meeting dates of individual Area Committees

    If you would like to know more about the Carbon CLEVER and the Community Grant Fund, please contact a member of the Carbon CLEVER team at

    Amnesty to hand in illegal pesticides

    Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    The Scottish Government have launched a scheme to allow those who know, or suspect they are in possession of illegal pesticides which are illegal, to dispose of them safely and confidentially.  The pesticides included in this scheme are highly toxic and many are lethal to humans and animals, even in small quantities - these include Carbofuran, the most commonly used poison in bird of prey persecution, and other illegal pesticides such as Mevinphos and Strychnine.

    The programme is supported by  British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and Scottish Land and Estates, who are all encouraging their members to hand in any pesticides they suspect to be illegal.

    As Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

    “Such substances may have been used in the past for a variety of purposes and can come to light when old sheds are cleared out or indeed during inspection checks when premises are taken over. People now have a safe route to deal with this and it does not mean that anyone who finds themselves in this situation has done anything wrong. These substances are highly dangerous and so this initiative marks another welcome step towards eradicating wildlife poisoning.

    “We will be promoting this scheme to our membership and urging them to check if they might still have any of these banned substances and, if they suspect they do, to take advantage of this opportunity to get them removed from their premises and disposed of safely."

    Environment Minister, and Chair of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland, Dr Aileen McLeod, highlighted concerns over wildlife poisoning, and the lethal nature of thee pesticides commenting: 

    “The illegal poisoning of wildlife cannot and will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland. The Scottish Government has made tackling wildlife crime a priority. We have the strongest laws on wildlife crime in the UK, including vicarious liability, which was recently successfully used in the courts. 

    “There were 96 recorded incidents of illegal poisoning abuse involving wildlife in the last 5 years from 2009-2013. It is essential that we remove all substances from the countryside that could kill our wildlife, and that are a risk to people and pets who may accidentally be exposed to them, which is why the Scottish Government has introduced the pesticide disposal scheme.”

    “I would encourage people to carefully and safely check sheds and outbuildings for old stocks of illegal substances. While recent incidents have demonstrated that some people are still deliberately using these pesticides to kill wildlife, we also know that in many cases these substances may have been left forgotten and unused for years. Therefore I hope that people will come forward safe in the knowledge that handing over these pesticides will not be seen as an assumption of guilt.”

    Alex Hogg Scottish Gamekeepers Association Chairman shares Aileen Macleod’s views, commenting: 

    "We fully support this move and encourage our members to use it. Not everyone knows the status of substances kept in outbuildings and their usage and status may have changed over time. It is sensible to have a safe way for people to dispose of them. The poisoning of animals is a serious offence and something which can not be tolerated. Any programme which helps remove illegal substances from being held has our full support."

    Further details of substances that will be accepted, and how to make use of the scheme, are available on the PAW Scotland website – Anyone who believes they are in possession of any of these banned pesticides should contact the disposal scheme line on 0131 472 4187. The line is open 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday.

    Conservation Volunteering - the Highland Biodiversity Conference 2015

    Posted Thursday, February 19, 2015

    The details have been announced of the 2015 Highland Biodiversity conference, organised by Janet Bromham  and Jonathan Willet, Highland Council Biodiversity Officers, and funded by the Council and Scottish Natural Heritage.

    The conference will take place on Monday 30th March in Inverness High School and is on the subject of “Environmental Volunteering in Highland – Do We Need a Collaborative Approach?” 

    We are delighted that Cllr Thomas Prag has agreed to chair the day, and that we have speakers with a wealth of experience of conservation volunteering, including from the British Trust for Ornithology, Trees for Life, Scottish Waterways Trust, Cairngorms National Park and Highland Third Sector Interface.

    Some of the issues we will be discussing are how to maximise the potential of our current volunteers, how can we support them consistently and to a high standard, better links between projects and volunteers and how can we recruit more volunteers?

    If you would like to come to the conference please book a place with Caroline Vawdrey at so that we can be sure to have enough food and seats for everyone.


    See programme below - or download your own copy from the Highland Biodiversity Website.

    Environmental Volunteering in Highland: Do we need a Collaborative Approach?


    Registration Tea / coffee & biscuits
    Welcome and Introduction - Cllr Thomas Prag, Conference Chairman
    (Chairman, Highland Council Planning, Development & Infrastructure Committee)"

    Volunteering, the Highland Biodiversity Action Plan and the Single Outcome Agreement
    George Hogg, Highland Environment Forum Chairman "

    Highland Green Gyms
    Speaker tbc, The Conservation Volunteers 

    Potential for Synergy & Sharing Volunteers around the Great Glen
    Speaker tbc, Trees for Life 

    Cairngorms Nature: Environmental Volunteering in the National Park  
    Speaker tbc, Cairngorms National Park Authority 

    What’s Up? Recording Mountain Birds
    Dr Ben Darvill, British Trust for Ornithology 

    Questions & Answers


    NHS – Health benefits of volunteering & how to work collaboratively 
    Speaker to be confirmed – GP / MS

    Nature and Wellbeing
    Stephen Wiseman, Scottish Waterways Trust  

    Highland TSI – What we do for Volunteering & the Saltire Awards for Young People
    Mhairi Wylie, Third Sector Interface 

    A Volunteer’s Perspective – what works and what is challenging
    Speaker tbc, Saltire Ambassador / RSPB Volunteer

    Questions & Answers

    Introduction to Workshops Jonathan Willet, Highland Council

    Tea / coffee to take to workshops


    • How can we improve co-ordination and work better together?
    • How do we encourage more people to volunteer in Highland?

    Workshop Feedback  - Workshop Representatives

    Conclusions and Next Steps - Cllr Thomas Prag

    Photograph shows Trees for Life volunteers 

    Bumblebee brains affected by neonicotinoids

    Posted Sunday, February 08, 2015

    New research has emerged from the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews which shows that accepted environmental levels of neonicotinoids impair bumblebee brain functionality and consequently negatively impact the performance of whole colonies.

    The research, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is the first to demonstrate that the levels of neonicotinoids commonly found in the pollen and nectar of treated plants affect bumblebee brains. The results show that very low levels of neonicotinoids could cause up to a 55% reduction of living bees found in a colony and up to a 71% reduction in healthy brood cells.

    On these findings one of the researchers Dr Chris Connolly said: “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees,” he said. “In fact, our research showed that the ability to perturb brain cells can be found at 1/5 to 1/10 of the levels that people think are present in the wild."
    More information on the Bumblebee Conservation  Trust website.

    Photograph from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust 

    Conservation Volunteering - an evening of illustrated talks

    Posted Friday, February 06, 2015

    Showing visitors red kites, recording wild flowers, monitoring mink or getting active in your local community woodland will be just some of the many and varied conservation volunteering opportunities you will be able to learn about at the Easter Ross Biodiversity Forum on Thursday 19th February. The meeting will take place in Strathpeffer Community Centre at 7.30pm (doors open at 7.00pm).

    Speakers for the evening include Simon McKelvey of Cromarty Fisheries, who offer a wide variety of ways in that people can get involved, from anglers recording their catch to river side clean up days, or tackling invasive plants. Simon commented: “Volunteers make a huge contribution to the work that we do. People can come along to our work days, or work on surveys and monitoring in their own time. We like to keep it flexible.”

    This informal evening is being organised by the Easter Ross Biodiversity Group, which meets twice a year to discuss wildlife projects and oversee delivery of the Easter Ross Biodiversity Action Plan.  The Group is co-ordinated by Janet Bromham, Highland Council Biodiversity Officer.  She echoed Simon’s views: “From the seashore to the mountain tops people can get involved in conservation volunteering. It’s a great way to get out and about, provides valuable wildlife information and help with habitat management, and there are often health benefits associated with volunteering outdoors. It can simply just be great fun, and a good way to meet like-minded people.”

    We’re keen to set up an Easter Ross Conservation Volunteers Group, and will be discussing this during the evening. We’d like to hear people’s thoughts on whether such a group would work and if they’d like to join.”

    The Highland Environment Forum is also focusing on volunteering this year, and has organised a conference on Monday 30 March in Inverness entitled “Environmental Volunteering in Highland: Do We Need A Collaborative Approach?”  

    Electricity, Wind-farms and YOU. Fortrose Academy

    Posted Thursday, February 05, 2015

    The UK’s future electricity source is facing uncertain times with old nuclear and coal-fired power stations being phased out, gas from the North Sea in decline, and binding commitments to reduceour greenhouse gas emissions. Are wind-farms part of the mix or just a blot on the landscape? Community group Transition Black Isle are inviting people to explore these issues and their implications at a unique Question Time in Fortrose Theatre, on the Black Isle on Tuesday 10th February 2015 at 7:00pm for 7.30pm. The event is open to anyone and is free.
    Chaired by TV journalist Louise Batchelor, this Transition Black Isle event will feature introductory
    talks, followed by questions from audience members. 
    The final line up for the panel answering the questions will include Scottish Green Party co-convenor and MSP Patrick Harvie, Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, Andy Kerr from Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and Nicholas Gubbins from Community Energy Scotland. 
    Transition Black Isle are currently seeking questions, from both individuals and on behalf of local organisations, to be asked on the night. Questions should be submitted by 5pm on 6th February by email to: or by post to Anne Thomas, Transition Black Isle, Drumsmittal Park, North Kessock, IV1 3XF. There  may not be time for all the questions but they will aim to let people know the day before if their questions have been short-listed and there should be scope for questions on the night as the discussion unfolds. 
    The event will be followed by refreshments and a chance for informal discussion about this important topic.

    Highlands Against Nuclear Transport , meeting in Dingwall

    Posted Thursday, February 05, 2015

    Highlands Against Nuclear Transport is holding a Public Meeting in Dingwall Community Centre on Monday 9 February 2015 at 1930 to highlight concerns about the transport of nuclear waste in and around the Highlands

    The meeting will include an input from John Finnie Independent MSP who will speak about

    Nuclear waste transport by rail through the Highlands by rail & by sea through the Minch - a responsible solution ? 

    Nuclear waste is currently carried regularly by rail from Georgemas Junction, near Thurso in Caithness to Barrow in Cumbria with secrecy surrounding the movements and very little information available to local communities about the emergency procedures in place in the event of an accident or terrorist attack leading to releases of radiation

    The next controversial plan is for nuclear fuel and waste (including unirradiated plutonium and highly enriched uranium). to be transported regularly by sea from Scrabtster to Barrow starting this year

    These shipments pose a threat to fishing & aquaculture, tourism, the environment, wildlife and coastal communities along the route, which includes the dangerous waters of the Minches

    Most local authorities in the Highlands & Islands have raised concerns as has the UK-wide NFLA (Nuclear Free Local Authorities) organisation

    The lack of a dedicated Emergency Response Vessel along the route is a specific concern and following the MV Parida incident calls have been made by the Scottish Government for regulation of these shipments to become a devolved matter

    Tor Justad , Vice-Chair  says “ The HANT Public Meeting will highlight and discuss these issues and plan a strategy for future campaigning, which has wide political support and support from other areas directly affected

    HANT will continue to lobby the UK Government, Scottish Government and Local Authorities to reconsider the sea shipments and to implement a policy of retaining nuclear waste on the sites where produced

    HANT does not believe it makes sense to continue to send nuclear waste to Sellafield, where the company managing the site (Nuclear Management Partners) recently had their contract terminated due to poor performance with the media highlighting the appalling state of storage ponds on the site

    The Ecologist magazine reported in October 2014  : Dilapidated nuclear waste storage ponds abandoned 40 years ago contain hundreds of tonnes of fuel rods which pose an immediate danger to public safety “

    Volunteering on the Isle of Eigg

    Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2015

    With orchid meadows, red throated divers, singing sands and stunning views of the other Small Isles - Eigg can be a magical place. 

    This year the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust has a couple of volunteering opportunities that will give you the chance to enjoy the island’s wildlife and scenery, whilst helping them out and hopefully having a relaxing and social time too.

    The first is a Path Maintenance Conservation Working Holiday running for a week from 30th March - 6th April, when you will gain some practical experience, help out the community immensely and also get the opportunity to come along to the Easter ceilidh at the end of the week. The closing date to apply for this is 16th February 2015.

    There are also three places for people to spend some time on the island during June, July & August to help to improve the island’s natural environment, complete essential conservation tasks, monitoring and practical projects. 

    Applications will be considered for a minimum period of one week to a maximum of two month.  You can expect to carry out tasks like beach cleans, litter picking, bramble & bracken management, herb garden weeding, natural regeneration management, helping with community events and ceilidhs or if you can bring a specific skill to the island then please let us know in you application form. We are looking for enthusiastic caring folk that work well as part of a team and at times will be without supervision so it is essential that you are self motivated and can work independently. 

    For both volunteering opportunities accommodation is provided by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust in Tigh Corraraigh a semi detached house situated in Cleadale on the northwest side of the island approx 4 miles from the pier. A very small nominal fee of £15/wk is asked for to cover household running costs only. 

    If requested, references can be written for you after your period volunteering with us.  

    Volunteers make an enormous contribution to the island of which residents are eternally grateful. 

    For further information on both the path maintenance course and summer volunteering please go to   or email ~
    More conservation volunteering opportunities can be found on the Highland Biodiversity website

    The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need

    Posted Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum's trustee, David Ashford describes plans for their event in Portree on the evening of Friday 6th February, and the importance of nature nuture.
    The genesis of this article was my first-time experience of organising a special event for the Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum.  It proved to be particularly challenging not least because of the topic – Nature-Deficit Disorder. For quite a while, I have been conscious of the serious lack of involvement with the natural environment experienced by most children and young people nowadays.  Their school curricula and free-time seems to be largely devoid of any cognitive connection to nature.
    At 7.00 pm on Friday, 6th February there will be an opportunity for anyone and everyone interested to meet at Tigh na Sgire, Portree and, after a presentation by Aberdeen based Terri Harrison of Nature Nurture, to debate this important issue.
    During my research for the event, I came across some fairly startling information.  A key source was a paper produced by expert luminaries for PARKS 2014 Vol 20.2 entitled 'EMPOWERING THE NEXT GENERATION TO CONNECT WITH NATURE: A GLOBAL MOVEMENT’.  As can be seen, I have highlighted sections of it which illustrate my concerns perfectly.  
    Today we are faced with the first generation in history that has adults with a longer lifespan than our children.  High rates of obesity, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and other child health concerns are increasing exponentially as their connection to nature and their ability to take risks decreases.  Their school schedules are busier, activities more organised and any free time competes with the ever-present lure of the screen.  They have become screenagers oblivious to the fact that, unlike TV, nature does not steal time - it enhances it!
    So – having presented the problem, what is the solution?  It is my contention that tearing children and young people away from their gizmos need not be quite as difficult as initially thought.  Richard Louv, co-founder of Children & Nature Network, gave a taste of the challenge with this salutary quote from a youngster:  “I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where the electrical outlets are”!
    Provided we adults are prepared to reach out from our comfort zones and instigate contact with young people in their favourite haunts – e.g. youth clubs - a positive impact could be made.  The procedure I have in mind for this is simple.  There needs to be discussion with the local Youth Worker to arrange a brief visit to meet the young people themselves and to offer a wintertime presentation about wildlife, including plant life, to whet the appetite.  This should be followed by the offer of a summertime excursion into the hills where fun becomes adventure and even a barbeque might be on offer!
    Just a few occasions of that sort might bring about a reversal of the present decline into a serious ignorance of the magnificence of nature which I fear the next generation is heading for.  If conservation or wildlife bodies strive to enhance their existing successes with the use of such remedies the future could look bright.

    Take the pledge with Resource Efficient Scotland

    Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Resource Efficient Scotland would like to see you take the pledge, but they’re not concerned about your festive drinking - this is all about saving money on energy, water, raw materials and waste.

    The pledge is aimed at businesses and organisations - and just like learning to swim you can achieve bronze, silver, gold - even platinum - awards. Companies such as Network Rail, Gordon & MacPhail, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and Ross-shire Waste Action Network have already signed up, and by working on three pledge actions over the next twelve months you can achieve a bronze award. Resource Efficient Scotland will give you lots of support and advice to help you meet your targets, and will provide marketing and promotion to enable to you to show others what you have achieved.

    Possible actions include:
    • using resources efficiently
    • developing a staff car share scheme
    • procuring resource efficient products
    • encouraging recycling
    • gaining a recognised environmental management accreditation
    • collaborating with other organisations/businesses

    To find out more and to make a pledge go to the Resource Efficient Scotland website  - where you will find lots of useful FAQs and case studies.

    “Gordon & MacPhail are embracing the need to improve efficiencies in our energy use and reduce our carbon footprint.  Support from Resource Efficient Scotland has enabled us to plan for the installation of a new dual fuel burner fitted to the existing steam boiler, for improved efficiency and flexibility. The new system will pay for itself in just one year. We are committed to the Pledge to support our development as a resource efficient business. We are setting up a green team to engage our staff; holding discussions with our supply chain to identify savings and best practice from them; and reviewing our landfill waste to explore energy from waste options.”

    Robert Munro, HSEQ Co-ordinator

    Active Cairngorms

    Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Cairngorms National Park has put together a plan of how to make the area an even better place to be active, and they would like to hear your views.

    Some of their ideas include increasing the number of all abilities trails in the park - making 100% of core paths barrier free by 2020. There are plans to develop a multi-use active travel route from Newtonmore to Cromdale, and to extend the Speyside Way from Aviemore to Newtonmore by 2016.

    Whilst encouraging recreation the National Park is also mindful of ensuring that vulnerable wildlife doesn’t get disturbed, and so recommends reducing the impact of recreation on ground nesting birds (e.g.Capercaillie) by implementing site specific actions from The Cairngorms Capercaillie Framework and continuing to develop the ‘Tread Lightly’ Campaign focusing on reducing the impact of irresponsible dog walkers.

    As Recreation and Access Manager at the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), David Clyne explained: “We want ‘Active Cairngorms’ to make a difference to everyone living and visiting the Cairngorms National Park, from walking to school to offering a high quality outdoor experience for visitors. Our work in developing this outdoor access strategy can influence changes in behaviour that can last a lifetime and help people live healthier lifestyles. Therefore it’s important that as many people as possible contribute to the consultation.”

    There are many more suggestions in the plan, which also contains some informative graphics about work to date.

    Take a look at the plan and let David Clyne, Recreation and Access Manager at the park know what you think of it by going to the Active Cairngorms website

    Looking for fine woods

    Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Scotland's Finest Woods are being sought.

    Run by an independent charity, supported by a number of partners and supporters, the 2015 Awards have nearly £7,000 of price money and four categories to be entered:
    • Community Woodlands Awards: Community-based projects are invited to compete for this Scotland-wide award with two competitions, one for projects with a 'health and wellbeing' focus and a second for those focusing on 'economic development and regeneration'. The Tim Stead Trophy and £2,000 of prize money are up for grabs.
    • New Native Woods Award: New native woodland projects are invited to compete for this award: the Woodland Trust Scotland Trophy and £1,000 are there to be won.
    • Quality Timber Awards: Focusing on growing quality timber, woodland owners are invited to compete in our three competitions with three trophies and £3,000 of prize money at stake: the competitions are for 'newly-planted woodland', 'single stands/small woods' or 'whole estates & larger multi-purpose woods'.
    • Schools Award: Schools and pre-school projects can enter this ever-popular award. We are seeking out Scotland's most fun-packed school woodland projects with £750 of prize money to be won. 
    Information sheets can be downloaded from the Scotland’s Finest Woods website.
    Register your interest in entering the 2015 Awards so that they can keep you up to date, email them on

    You can also follow them on their Facebook page
    The closing date for entry is 31st March 2015.

    Toad in the Hole

    Posted Monday, January 12, 2015

    The latest Scottish Biodiversity Forum news reports on the Amphibians in Drains project undertaken Perth & Kinross Council Ranger Service.

    Toads, frogs, newts and small mammals can all get stuck in gullypots, but the installation of wildlife kerbs can allow wildlife to follow the lower edge of the kerb and bypass the gullypot. Re-surveying of the kerbs (installed between 2010 and 2012) was carried out in 2014 as part of a student internship project with the Tayside Biodiversity Partnership to see if the wildlife kerbs installed in 2011 were making a significant difference and also to trial the potentially more cost-effective amphibian ladders which are made of a material called Enkemat from the Netherlands. 

    The most recent survey involves three sites in Perthshire with more than 1,300 gullypots checked. So far results have shown the wildlife kerbs are reducing the amount of wildlife falling into the gullypots by more than half. It is too early to report on the amphibian ladders but it is hoped to continue this work into 2015 as European studies suggest these may prove to be more successful than the kerbs.

    Find out more about this and many other interesting biodiversity stories on the forum website.

    Community energy for the Black Isle?

    Posted Monday, January 12, 2015

    Black Isle Community Energy are holding a series of drop in sessions and discussions ahead of their community ballot in March. Their proposal is a 3 wind turbine proposal on Forestry Commission land, amongst the plantation and close to the 'military road' the main track that runs along the ridge of this part of the forest.
    You can see the detail of the proposals on their website or go along to one of their forthcoming events:
    • Cromarty Drop-in – Old Brewery - Thur Jan 15 – 16.00 – 19.30 - displays of the plans and community energy experts on hand
    • Culbokie Drop-in – Community Hall (TBC) – Feb 5, 17.00 – 21.00 - displays of the plans and community energy experts on hand
    • Millbuie Forest Bike Ride - 24th of January @ 1.30pm military road (turbine access) aka green lane Cycle to the preferred location for the Black Isle turbines. This will be a group bike ride, accompanied by Kerry Sinclair, who is a director of the Dingwall Wind Co-op and a qualified cycle trainer.
    • Corrimony visit - Saturday 7th February @ 1.30pm Come to this if you are worried about noise from the turbines! The Corrimony wind farm in Glen Urquhart has five Enercon E70 turbines; these are the same model and height as suggested in their feasibility study.
    • ‘Electricity, Wind Farms and You’ – panel discussion and debate, Fortrose Theatre – Tue 10 Feb – 19.00 – 21.00 – speakers & panel: Louise Bachelor - chair, Nicholas Gubbins, Community Energy Scotland - speaker, Andy Kerr,Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation - speaker, Rhoda Grant MSP, Patrick Harvey MSP
    All the events are described in more detail on their Black Isle Community Energy website or you can like their facebook page to keep up-to-date with plans.

    Pass it on Week - 7th to 15th March 2015

    Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Pass it on Week is Zero Waste Scotland’s new national re-use awareness week and they’re encouraging everyone to get involved in putting on events that spread the word that re-use is recycling with added fun, and that secondhand is not second best. 

    Pass it on Week can be about swapping, and getting people to trade things they don’t want any more for things that they do. It can be about upcycling, and turning something tired into something inspired. It can be about repair, and getting the bug for fixing things again. It can be about borrowing, and setting up a ‘library of things’ like tools and equipment that people can borrow and return.

    Zero Waste Scotland is holding free workshops to provide inspiration and ideas for the types of activity you could put on for Pass it on Week. They will be held in: Edinburgh: Monday 12 January: Glasgow: Wednesday 14 January.: Aberdeen: Thursday 15 January

    To find out more go to the Zero Waste Scotland website  or send an email to Kim Young at

    Energy funding and support for community buildings

    Posted Monday, December 15, 2014

    Resource Efficient Scotland offers advice and support for community buildings, as well as businesses and charities. They offer a free resource efficiency audit to identify energy waste and water savings, and provide a report which gives the estimated savings in money, and in CO2. Many community buildings, including churches, village halls, sports clubs and scout huts have taken this support.

    Resource Efficient Scotland also offers loans from £1,000 to £100,000 to help organisations become more resource efficient, cut costs and reduce carbon emissions.

    There are case studies of some of groups and organisations that have already been helped by Resource Efficient Scotland on their

    Keep warm with some practical advice from Home Energy Scotland

    Posted Friday, December 12, 2014

    Now that temperatures have dropped, and the wet and snow has thrown us into dark and damp days, all our home’s draughts and chilly corners become very clear. Heating our homes is a major expense for most people, but helpful advice from Home Energy Scotland Hotline (0808 808 2282) can help to reduce those costs.

    They offer a one-stop shop for clear and impartial advice and support.

    As well as receiving money-saving energy advice, you may be eligible to receive money towards the cost of replacing an old, inefficient boiler with a new model,or to install free loft and cavity wall insulation, in some cases people have even received a full central heating system at no cost.

    So make that call - they promise to talk hot air to you!
    See our climate pages for more information on where to get advice and the Carbon CLEVER progamme to help us tackle climate change. 

    Lochaber considers wood fuel future

    Posted Monday, December 08, 2014

    Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) has been awarded £9,925 by the Big Lottery programme Investing In Ideas. The Group is keen to encourage a greater take up of wood fuel in Lochaber as it will help the environment and can save householders money. An average all electrically heated Highland home not only costs more to heat but also releases more greenhouse gases into the environment.
    This grant allows LEG to look at options for expanding the supply of wood fuel locally. It will establish the current and potential demand for wood fuel and consult with industry experts, suppliers and communities. This will lead to proposals for practical action.

    A spokesperson for LEG says “With 38% of rural Highland households in fuel poverty, wood fuel could offer a realistic option to combating this issue. An enhanced supply chain could also create new economic opportunities for a local, sustainable, resource. There is no reason why wood fuel shouldn’t be as easy to purchase as a bag of coal. Per tonne it is cheaper and it releases 77% less Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere”.
    LEG estimates that current total of logs bought for domestic heating is around 2,000 tonnes per year. If half of the houses in the area converted to wood fuel the demand would rise to 49,500 tonnes. The Forestry Commission for example manages 50,000 hectares in Lochaber and currently harvests approximately 182,000 cubic metres each year - only 1% is used for wood fuel. 

    LEG will be recruiting for this work early in 2015. For further details please contact   


    Cairngorms National Park does its bit to reduce Carbon

    Posted Tuesday, December 02, 2014

    At the Inverness Carbon CLEVER conference, held in November Hamish Trench (head of Cairngorms National Park Authority conservation and visitor experience) gave an informative insight into the park's work, highlighting the efforts being undertaken to reduce the area’s carbon footprint.  
    The authority is currently involved in the restoration of 350 hectares of Peatlands, investing £155k this year.  Repairing these soils that were drained or damaged will help to significantly reduce the amounts of greenhouse gases released by this land.  Find out more about the park's peatland work on their website.
    In addition they hope to increase woodland cover in the area by 5% in 5 years, and have planted 1800 hectares of since 2012. The park is also supporting community-led renewables schemes (hydro and biomass) where possible.  
    The park is also involved in the development of an Active Travel strategy to help both with climate change and to promote the associated health benefits of improving paths, cycle ways and encouraging communities to become more cycle friendly.  Electric bikes have been trialled supported by Sustrans and the Scottish Government Climate Change Fund and are proving to be a popular, see the Electric Bike Network for how to hire them.  The Cairngorms scheme is similar to the Carbon CLEVER electric bike hire in Inverness, and it is hoped the use of these bikes will lead to a change in travel patterns over time.  

    Developing Scotland's marine tourism

    Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014

    'Awakening the Giant: A Strategic Plan for Scotland's Marine Tourism Sector' - highlights the potential for developing the marine leisure sector, including the wider service sector in food, accommodation and local attractions. The document is open for consultation here.
    There is also the opportunity to attend two workshops in Highland:
    • Inverness, Wednesday 26 November 2014, 10 am – 1.15 pm Ness Horizons Business Centre, Kintail House, Beechwood Business Park, Inverness, IV2 3BW. 
    • Oban, Monday 24 November 2014, 12 noon – 3.30 pm Royal Hotel, Argyll Square, Oban, PA34 4BE. 
     For more information contact

    Let’s Get Digital - support available to voluntary organisations

    Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Let’s Get Digital is a business growth support initiative, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and run by SCVO. It will run until summer 2015. 

    Third sector organisations can make an application for a digital improvement project to be undertaken by a graduate intern over a period of either 6 weeks full time or 12 weeks part time. 

    The aim is that these digital projects will help organisations to increase their service delivery, support more customers, generate more income and potentially offer more employment opportunities.
    The types of activity which could be considered include new websites/website refresh, social media strategy/development, database cleanse and implementation, IT systems development, online fundraising/e-commerce development etc. 

    Any proposal can be considered if it can be evidenced as a business need which would help the organisation grow and become more digitally engaged.
    Full details on eligibility, as well as copies of the application form and guidance, can be found
    here.  You can also discuss your project ideas with 
    Beverley Maclean on 01463 251723 or email her at 

    Raise capital for a community project

    Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014

    Community Shares Scotland was only set up in March this year, but is already supporting a large number of communities across Scotland.

    Offering your community shares in community ventures such as shops, pubs, community buildings, renewable energy initiatives or local food schemes can be the ideal way to raise the all-important risk capital to start, and to grow,  a community project. 
    Community Shares Scotland is a three-year programme, staffed by Kelly McIntyre (programme manager) and Morven Campbell (programme officer) to offer guidance and support to organisations keen to develop community share offers to help fund local projects and can offer both general and specialised support.

    If you would like to find out more about the help and advice they can offer go to the Community Shares website, ring 0131 220 3777, email and sign up to their quartlerly e-newsletter which will include details of when and where they will be running Community Shares Scotland roadshows.

    Expert advice for communities to engage others in their climate action projects

    Posted Saturday, November 15, 2014

    Scottish Communities CAN is inviting applications from community groups to take part in a project that should benefit them through expert advice and support on climate action community engagement.

    This is a demonstration project funded by Scottish Government, the learning from which will be evaluated and shared with other communities.

    Support from the project will be provided during February-August 2015. Community group participants will be chosen according to their potential to benefit from taking part; geographic coverage; and the focus of planned community engagement (e.g. energy efficiency, waste reduction, food and growing).

    Coaches / mentors will be drawn from a pool which might include other community projects with practical experience (peer to peer), consultants and academics. They will be matched to participant projects based on their expertise, and the participant’s needs.

    Community group Application Form Closing date 30 November 2014

    Find out more on their website 

    Two grant funds to help your community

    Posted Friday, November 07, 2014

    The Voluntary Action Fund and the Royal Horticultural Society are keen to help communities to carry out their ideas by providing funding support through their grant schemes.

    The Voluntary Action Fund Community Grant is aimed at small and often volunteer-led groups that make a vital difference to their communities. 

    If your group has less than £25,000 income per annum you can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 for a wide range of activities or operational costs.  Priority will be given to the following areas of work:

    • health or disability issues
    • people protected under the 2010 Equality Act (Age; Disability; Race; Faith; Sex or Sexual orientation etc.)
    • families and young people; and older people

    They are also keen to fund activities that will help build and develop strong organisations, for example; 
    • training for committee members and volunteers
    • visits to other organisations and conferences or professional support and consultancy.

    Applications for the Community Grant Programme should be received by 14 November 2014.  The application form and guidance notes can be downloaded here.  

    The Royal Horticultural Society has a community fund to help gardeners enhance public spaces in towns, villages and cities. Groups applying for the fund should be able to show that their project has a strong horticultural focus and provides one or more of the following:

    • Opportunities for people to learn new skills in gardening
    • Development of volunteering opportunities within your local community
    • Involve people from a wide range of different ages and backgrounds
    • Long-lasting benefits to your local community

    Groups can apply for two levels of funding; Start-up Grants of up to £300 and Main Grants of up to £3,000. To apply for funding, download the application form and guidance here and completed and returned by the closing date of 5pm, Monday 8 December 2014.
    Photograph from the RHS 

    49 Ways to help your Wildlife - Views sought on New Plan to help Highland Biodiversity

    Posted Tuesday, November 04, 2014

    You are invited to comment on the draft Highland Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), which has been prepared by a sub group of the Highland Environment Forum (HEF), over the last year.  

    The priorities and ideas for future action have come from national guidance, the results of a gap analysis on the action table from the last plan, a pre-consultation exercise undertaken with HEF members in January, and a workshop session undertaken at the Highland Biodiversity Conference last February.

    This is the third Highland BAP to be produced since 2006, and it is the most comprehensive.  It gives a summary of the background and context surrounding the Plan, as well as an update on progress made since the biodiversity action planning process started in Highland in 2002.  The draft Plan summarises some of the excellent projects that have been undertaken to deliver biodiversity improvements over the last 14 years.  We recognise that this does not capture all the good work that has taken place, so please tell us if you know of other projects that ought to be recognised here.

    The main part of the document is the draft Action Plan, which proposes 49 new ideas for projects that could be undertaken to improve our biodiversity in Highland.  Clearly we cannot deliver all these projects in the next five years, so the consultation poses a number of questions to seek your views on the project ideas, and asks you to prioritise your top five.
    Find out more and contribute your views via the Highland Biodiversity website

    Nature: Good for health and business

    Posted Saturday, November 01, 2014

    The 8.7 million species that live on Earth are each important in their own right. What humans think of them is irrelevant, but of course that’s not how the world works. So it is interesting to see reports of two actions promoted by conservation bodies that highlight the benefits that the natural environment can have for the economy and our health.

    A survey of 500 businesses undertaken by the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital revealed that 95% of them thought that a better understanding of our relationship with natural capital could contribute to better outcomes for business, society and the environment. And 77% of respondents also thought that it is urgent or very urgent to protect and enhance natural capital in Scotland.

    The Scottish Forum on Natural Capital is a group made up of businesses and conservation organisations and co-chaired by representatives from both sectors. They define Natural Capital as:

    ’The earth’s stock of natural assets - including forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans - that supply us with essential goods (such as food, medicine, fuel and building materials) and services (such as pollination, climate regulation and flood protection) on which all human life depends.’

    and the group aims to use recognition of this value to ‘protect and re-build Scotland’s natural capital’.

    Interestingly in response to the survey question 'Which sums up your organisation’s attitude in relation to natural capital?' the highest ranking response was ‘We would change if regulation meant we had to’ followed by ‘We would change in response to consumer pressure and customer /client expectations’ - so keep lobbying - it is worthwhile after all!

    • At least 80% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in favourable condition by 2040 
    • A requirement to create a national ecological network built at the local level, and knitted together across administrative boundaries. 
    • A duty on local planning authorities to identify, map and embed local ecological networks in local plans 
    • A duty on the Secretary of State to identify and publish the actions needed to improve the status of species threatened with extinction 
    • Scrutinise the environmental impact of new laws
    • A duty on the Secretary of State to set targets for the provision of natural green space to a minimum standard in all settlements and provide guidance on how these targets should be met. 

    These are just some of the measures proposed by the green paper ‘A Nature and Wellbeing Act’ put forward to UK parliament jointly by the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB. They are aimed at English law making, but are just as relevant to Scotland.

    The paper argues that current legislation ‘will be insufficient to bring about the change required to protect nature and secure its recovery, not only for its own sake, but for all that it does for our wellbeing and that of future generations. We need an approach that not only commits to the recovery of nature, but takes action to improve nature as part of the solution to our social and economic challenges.’

    They propose that nature should be at the heart of legislation and outline the ways in which it can benefit our health and economy through better opportunities for people to access and get involved in green spaces - helping to reduce obesity and improve mental health and social skills.

    You can see more about the green paper and download the full report or a summary at:

    Highland Council budget cuts - they’ll impact on you - so make your views known

    Posted Friday, October 31, 2014

    The Highland Council have the challenge of making up a budget gap of £64 million and envisage a council that is 10 - 15% smaller by 2019. This will inevitably have a effect on front line services and so the Council is consulting to gauge public opinion on what is acceptable and what is not.

    The consultation will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and is available here.  
    The closing date is Friday November 14th.
    Should you have any queries, you can contact the Council’s policy team on 01463 702006 or

    Nominations sought for Scottish Rural Awards

    Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014

    The Scottish Rural Awards are open for nominations. There are 12 categories including food and drink, business diversification, conservation and the environment.
    Nominations close on Monday 8th December.

    Bees like allotments too

    Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    The first Great British Bee Count has found allotments win the prize for the most bees seen per count: an average of 12 compared to countryside (10), garden (8), school grounds (7), park (7) and roadside (4).

    The survey was undertaken by more than 23,000 people around the UK, who used a free smartphone app to log their sightings of 832,000 bees during the 12-week citizen science project this summer. The organisers ( Friends of the Earth, Buglife and B&Q) developed the survey to help build a broader picture of the health of bees.

    Sadly the overall picture for British bees is one of serious decline, with 71 of our 267 species under threat and more than 20 already extinct. As Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife's Campaigns Officer said "Bees and other pollinators are essential for a healthy environment and contribute around £510 million of UK agriculture. Without these essential creatures, we could see the price of fruit such as apples and strawberries sky rocket.”

    Bumblebee expert Professor Dave Goulson, author of ‘A Sting In the Tale’ was enthusiastic in his support of the survey, commenting: "It's wonderful that so many people are taking time to look more closely at the hardworking bees in their area and learn about these fascinating species.

    "This year’s Great British Bee Count highlights the importance of allotments in providing essential habitat for the bees that pollinate all those tasty home-grown fruit and veg - and shows that parks and road verges could be a lot better for bees, with less mowing and more wildflowers.”

    Buglife has put together a seven point manifesto for bees ‘Get Britain Buzzing’ that calls for measures such as proper monitoring of populations and a reduction in pesticide use. The full manifesto can be downloaded from their website. Buglife, Friends of the Earth, the Women's Institute, farmers and scientists are calling for the Government's National Pollinator Strategy to protect bees and pollinators - due this autumn - to be significantly improved to tackle the root causes of bee decline, including supporting farmers to cut pesticide use and creating more bee-friendly habitat in public spaces and new developments.

    See the results and download a copy of the poster on the Great British Bee Count website

    Inverness and Nairn Biodiversity Forum meeting, Fort Augustus

    Posted Monday, October 27, 2014

    The fourth annual Inverness and Nairn Biodiversity Forum meeting will be held in the Memorial Hall, Fort Augustus on the 11th November at 18.45 for a 19.00 start., finish by 21.30. 

    A range of speakers will describe some of the biodiversity projects taking place in the Great Glen and surrounding area, including along the Caledonian Canal, and at the reserves of Corrimony and Dundreggan.  

    There will be space for displays or leaflets in the hall and there’ll be half an hour in the middle of the evening to allow you to browse the stands and chat with other attendees.

    The map shows you how to find the Memorial Hall, but it would be best to park in the public car park next to Visit Scotland as there is no parking at the hall itself. If you are able to let Caroline know in advance that you are coming - that will  be very helpful, in order to have an idea of how many people to expect - but we’d like to see you there even if you don’t know in advance!

    Health and the natural environment

    Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    There are two interesting reports just out on health and the natural environment
    It is the theme of the public health report by Dr Margaret Somerville, which is very clearly and concisely presented, and contains discussion of many issues of central importance to the Highlands, including the knock on effects of climate change and the need for adaptation.
    Her report includes the following recommendations for action:
    • Monitoring and reporting carbon emissions across agencies
    • Supporting communities to develop resilience to extreme weather events
    • Develop joint infrastructure and services across agencies, particularly in relation to transport, catering, procurement and use of renewable energy sources
    • Reducing fuel poverty through reducing fuel costs as well as improving energy efficiency
    • Raising awareness of the changing natural environment through schools, public engagement and integrated impact assessment
    • Promoting physical activity and mental health and well-being through a renewed strategic approach
    • Promoting access to and use of the natural environment by all ages and population groups
    • Helping to reduce overweight and obesity levels through reviewing and reducing the obesogenic nature of the local environment and improving access to affordable healthy food
    • Reduce unintentional injuries and hazards through promoting outdoor activity and road safety awareness, awareness of Lyme Disease, testing private water supplies, preventing falls and home safety
    Download a copy here.
    The benefits of the natural environment are highlighted in the Natural England conference report on ‘Natural Solutions to Tackling Health Inequalities’ . Download the report here.
    The report describes some interesting associations between health and accessibility to the natural environment: 
    • older people live longer in areas where there is more green space close to their homes
    • children who live close to green spaces have higher levels of physical activity and are less likely to experience an increase in BMI over time
    • people living in the most deprived areas are 10 times less likely to live in the greenest areas
    • the most affluent 20% of wards in England have 5 times the amount of parks or general green space compared with the most deprived 10% of wards 

    Energy Saving Expo ~ Eden Court, Inverness

    Posted Friday, October 10, 2014

    Energy Saving Expo ~ Eden Court, Inverness
    24th and 25th October
    Advice from industry experts on how to become more energy efficient, save money, pay bills, purchase an electric car - and much more.

    There'll also be electric bikes to test drive
    and stalls to browse from up to thirty exhibitors.

    The Friday event is for businesses interested in energy efficiency
    and runs from 12.00 - 3.00pm.

    Saturday is open to all from 11.00am - 4.00pm

    RSABI seeks Inverness Committee members

    Posted Thursday, October 09, 2014

    The rural charity RSABI are looking to set up an Inverness Committee. RSABI is a unique Scottish charity with roots going back to 1897. They provide financial assistance, support and advice in confidence to those people who have worked in Scotland in land-based occupations and who are suffering hardship.
    The committee would consist of four to ten people who would meet a few times a year, organise one fundraising event for RSABI and also help to spread the word about RSABI, what we do, who we help and encourage people to come forward for help. Find out more on the Rural Gateway website. 

    New regulation to help to reduce wildlife crime

    Posted Monday, October 06, 2014

    Scottish Natural Heritage will be able to refuse a general licence to kill wildlife on land where wildlife crime has taken place. A general licence can be used by land managers to permit practices that would be otherwise illegal - this may be done to protect crops or livestock or to control birds for 'conservation' purposes.
    The new regulation will be backdated to 1st January 2014 and is intended to help in tackling illegal persecution of wildlife.
    Chair of SNH, Ian Ross, commented, "We’re committed to taking action whenever there is evidence of wildlife crime, and we believe this new measure will make it much tougher for those committing offences. Because of the remote locations where most wildlife crime takes place, it’s often difficult to prove. So we need every tool we can to fight against those who persecute raptors in Scotland."
    See the full article on the SNH website  
    and the Scottish Land and Estates response 

    Small grants available from CSV Action Earth

    Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    CSV’s Action Earth campaign has grants to give to groups of volunteers who are carrying out environmental projects in Scotland. The campaign runs until February 2015.
    ·    Grants from £50 to £250 are available for practical activities that involve volunteers in improving outdoor spaces or creating habitats for wildlife. Grants can be used to purchase plants, tools and materials or to cover volunteer expenses.
    ·   If your group is volunteering on a Local Nature Reserve we can give you up to £500 for practical work, wildlife recording or educational activities that encourage more people onto the reserve.
    If you have any questions contact Robert Henderson at or call 0131 222 9083 / 622 7766.
    For more information and to apply online go to the Action Earth website: 
    This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage
    Photograph is from the CSV website and shows international volunteers working on Raasay 

    Vote for Trees for Life!

    Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    You have until Monday 6th October to vote for Trees for Life at and they could secure almost £20,000 in the European Outdoor Conservation Association’s ‘Outdoor’ funding scheme. The funding would help to secure their work in Glen Affric in partnership with the Forestry Commission.
    Their project aims to engage outdoor users in practical action to expand Glen Affric's native forests. Funding will enable volunteers to plant 20,000 native trees, remove non-native trees and restore high-altitude montane scrub habitat. There will be hands-on forest restoration training and volunteering opportunities for hundreds of people through forest skills courses, volunteer restoration days and conservation weeks.
    Guided walks and leaflets will allow hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts to learn more about the Caledonian Forest and how to help conserve Scotland’s threatened habitats and species.
    The project also aims to boost the local and Highland economy through a growth in visitors for nature-based tourism, hill walking and outdoor and adventure pursuits. It will lay the foundations for a longer-term initiative to create a forest habitat corridor from Loch Affric to Scotland’s west coast – leaving a lasting legacy of an expanded forest landscape and increased wildlife, transforming the experiences of outdoor users in the Highlands for future generations. 

    A Car Club for Inverness?

    Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014

    Find out more about how car clubs work at two events in Inverness Town House on Tuesday 30th September 2014:

    Lunchtime - a session aimed at employers and local businesses - about the benefits of car clubs and an employee car pool

    Evening - a public meeting aimed at anyone interested to hear more about car clubs, especially for personal use.

    The events are being run by Carplus (an Edinburgh-based body that promotes and encourages car clubs' development) working closely with Highland Council, represented by Daniel Greig, Policy Co-ordinator - Climate Change (E: T: 01463 702867).

    Real Living event at Drumnadrochit

    Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Green energy, reduce, reuse, recycle all part of an enjoyable day at the Real Living event at the Craigmonie Centre, Drumnadrochit on Saturday 4th October from 10.00a.m to 4.00pm.
    Events include:
    • Fun Bill Busters Session! 11am & 2pm
    • Children’s Storytelling 11am & 2 pm + craft corner
    • Growing fruit & veg + Gardening for pollinator’s advice
    • Recycled craft exhibit
    • Refreshments available 11am—2pm
    • See for yourself how much money you can save - FuelGood Sessions which last 50 minutes with a qualified instructor. To book call: 0751 445 2783 or email
    • Visit a Green Home owner in the area (with a renewableheating system). To pre-book a visit: 0808 808 2282 or
    • Enter - The Recycled Craft Competition
    The Real Living Event is part of Soirbheas’ Green Living project, which is a programme of activities to reduce carbon emission in our communities and to help us have warmer homes 
     Find out more details from Carol Masheter at

    Greenspace is good for you!

    Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2014

    The Scottish Natural Heritage report 'Attitudes to greenspace in Scotland - a review of key trends between 2004 - 2013' shows that regular visitors to their local greenspace are more likely to rate their health as good and people who feel healthy  are more likely to meet the national guideline for physical activity within an outdoor environment. 

    But with less than half of us visiting our local greenspace or the wider outdoors once a week or more, perhaps we need to take more greens . . . 

    The report show that
    a third of people do not do any physical activity in an outdoor environment
    across Scotland there is a widening gap between the expectations of what greenspaces can be and people's perceptions of what is actually provided in local communities
    a third of people think that the quality of their local greenspace has declined over the last five years.
    people who live in the most deprived areas of Scotland are the most dissatisfied with their local greenspace

    The key to good greenspace is that it should be accessible and high quality - that is likely to lead to more active lifestyles, as Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland commented, 

    "It is worrying that the gap between people's expectations of greenspace and the reality of their local greenspace continues to widen. We are concerned that a third of people think the quality of their local greenspace has declined over the last 5 years. As highlighted in the Heritage Lottery Fund's 'State of the UK Public Parks' report our parks and greenspaces are at a tipping point and urgent action is now required to safeguard these vital community assets and the important benefits they provide for our health, our economy and our communities."
    Read more on the SNH website 

    Book your place at the Highland Invasive Species Forum

    Posted Monday, September 08, 2014

    Bookings are open for the 6th Highland Invasive Species Forum. True to our tradition of moving about the Highlands we will be holding this meeting at the Macphail Centre in Ullapool.

    Tea and Coffee will be served from 9.30am with the meeting starting at 10am. There will be three local sites visits in the afternoon. The agenda can be downloaded here.
    These meetings are a great opportunity to find out what has been going on in Highland over the last year and also to hear what is planned to happen in the coming year. There is of course the chance to network and speak to those people that you have been meaning to speak with for a while. The Fora over the years have been very positively received by those attending and this is why we continue with them.

    To book a place please contact Caroline Vawdrey on or 07733771186. If you have any particular food requirements please do let Caroline know.

    If it suits your travel plans we encourage car sharing. The planned nodes for this are Inverness, Dingwall, Achnasheen and Garve.

    The Forum is free of charge with refreshments and lunch included, as we appreciate that many people have to travel a fair distance to attend. 

    (the photograph of Corrieshalloch Gorge is from the NTS website)

    Feeling the power of the third sector

    Posted Friday, September 05, 2014

    Jo Ellen reports from the Highland Third Sector Interface Conference – Wednesday 3rd September 2014

    HEN was represented at the Highland Third Sector Interface Conference on Wednesday 3rd September.  The event took place at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness and was attended by a diverse range of delegates from across the charity, voluntary and community sector.   A marketplace of over 40 stands provided valuable information and was an opportunity for organisations from the high profile to the smaller, less known to gain more exposure.  It was also a great chance for delegates to network and make new contacts, a crucial activity for groups distributed widely throughout the Highlands.   

    HEN was able to publicise its work with groups who had not come into contact with it before and  new links were established.  A number of individuals signed up the e- bulletins and newsletters which are distributed throughout the year.  

    Breakout sessions also took place throughout the day covering a range of subjects,  including  one on the Rural Parliament due to be held in November in Oban.  The sessions allowed delegates to discover new possibilities for their own organisations as well as gaining a greater understanding of others.  In one of these sessions, Young Scot Rewards, HEN was able to see how this organisation is helping to promote an environmentally friendly ethos to the thousands of young adults participating in its scheme throughout Scotland. 

    Overall this was a useful event for HEN to attend and highlighted how groups across the Third Sector can work together to help both the environment and the Care and Social sector.

    Last call for 2014 Climate Challenge Fund

    Posted Tuesday, September 02, 2014

    Draft applications for the 10th December round of the Climate Challenge Fund  and Junior Climate Challenge fund need to be with Keep Scotland Beautiful by 3rd October. Community groups interested in developing an application are encouraged to take the first step by submitting an Expression of Interest now - they will get back to you in 2 - 4 weeks.

    Grants up to £150,000 are available for community groups to run one year projects that plan to commence activities in April 2015. (There will be a further Grant Panel(s) in 2015 if any funding is still available following the December 2014 Grant Panel.)
    Keep Scotland Beautiful has produced an updated FAQ guide and encourages potential applicants to consult the guide to ensure that they can meet the forthcoming application deadlines and make their application as strong as possible. 
    If you want some guides to help you present your project take a look at 'The Ideas Bank', which contains templates of eligible Climate Challenge Fund projects which community groups can use to prepare an application to the CCF. 
    For more information contact:
    Freephone 0800 111 446 

    Biodiversity lunch time talks in Inverness

    Posted Saturday, August 30, 2014

    The Biodiversity Talks that have been running at Highland Council HQ since 2012 are about to start again. They will cover all sorts of subjects from Slugs and Snails to the Highland Wildcat. Find out more details and download the programme from the Highland Biodiversity website.

    Highland Third Sector Awards are looking for your nominations

    Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    The deadline for nominations in the HTSI Third Sector Awards has been extended to Friday 12th September.   This is a great opportunity to highlight the champions in our community and the great work of our local heroes.   You can fill in your nomination online using the link below:

    Award Categories are shown below:

    Youth volunteer of 2014

    A young person under the age of 25 who is excited and engages with volunteering. We are particularly interested in someone who has grown as an individual as a result of their experience and/or someone who has made a real differ-ence in their role as a volunteer.

    Community initiative 2014
    An award for a community who has taken ownership of an idea/concept and delivered it into reality to tackle a com-munity need, issue or vision.

    Intergenerational initiative 2014

    For groups or individuals who have taken part in successful cross-generational activity, particularly the under 26 and over 65 age groups, where they have been able to share skills, experience and/or knowledge bases.

    Highland partnership 2014

    For groups who have achieved a social or community benefit either across the Third sector or across sectors. The panel would expect to see innovation in the way the partnership has worked and information about what has made it successful .

    Older peoples Champion 2014

    An individual who has successfully championed the rights and opportunities of older people in the last year.

    Volunteer of the year 2014

    For an individual of any age who has volunteered in anyway. Their story should be inspirational.

    Outstanding contribution to the Third Sector 2014

    For any individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Third Sector. They do not have to have any for-mal relationship with the Third Sector but they do have to have made a contribution in either a time, skills or effort basis.

    Local Energy Challenge Fund

    Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    The newest strand of CARES, the Local Energy Challenge Fund, has been created to demonstrate the value and benefit of local low carbon energy economies. 
    They are looking for large-scale local low carbon demonstrator projects which show a local energy economy approach linking local energy generation to local energy use. This could include projects looking to develop innovative distribution and storage solutions, and with an overall aim to create more local value and benefit.
    There is £20 million available in the Local Energy Challenge Fund, and this will support cutting edge projects which will lead the way in transforming how Scotland’s communities interact with their energy supply and demand. The Phase 1 fund is also available to help projects in their early stages.
    Find out more on the Local Energy Scotland website

    Make sure that environmental and sustainability issues get a hearing at the Highland Council.

    Posted Sunday, August 17, 2014

    The Highland Council is establishing a new Community Groups Panel for consultation on budget planning and other key strategic issues.

 This panel will join the existing citizens panel and can be consulted by the Highland Council and other agencies in the Highland Community Planning Partnership. Joining the panel gives groups an opportunity to be listened to at the top level of Highland decision making.

    Groups will be able to join the Panel, if -

    • They are community based, located within Highland as a constituted group.
    • The majority of members of the group consist of members of that community (that could be community of interest or geography).
    • Membership of the group is open to any member of that community.
    • Any surplus funds or assets of the group are applied for the benefit of that community.

Groups will be asked to nominate a contact who will receive surveys on the group’s behalf and respond, following consultation with their membership.

    If you are involved with a group that would like to join the Community Groups Panel, please let know.
    The next round of budget consultation is being planned - so don't hesitate - get involved!

    The House-fly - a rare invertebrate

    Posted Friday, August 15, 2014

    The Highland Biological Recording group is running a survey to find more about the House-fly Musca domestica

    You might feel that your house is full of flies this summer, but the recording group website notes that ‘The true House-fly is very scarce in Britain these days, and very few flies in houses are indeed House-flies.  The NBN Gateway map shows only two Scottish records since 1950.  The only one in Highland was found in 2010 in Inverness College by Jimmy McKellar.  The other was of a pair on Lismore, just S of our area, in 2011.’ If you’d like to find out more about this uncommon insect and help to identify more Highland specimens take a look at their website.

    Joseph Rowntree Foundation looking to fund local climate resilient futures projects

    Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Joseph Rowntree Foundation wishes to fund two/three projects which will bring together local authorities, communities and other agencies to develop strategic responses to climate change, in areas which are particularly vulnerable, and likely to be disadvantaged by climate impacts.

    The aim is to improve local community resilience in different contexts across the UK.

    Deadline – 8 September 2014
    Timescale – Up to two years, starting Jan 2015
    Budget – Up to £100k per project (including VAT/expenses) two or three projects (depending on scope), £200k in total JRF funding
    Find out more here.

    Get your bid into Lifescan to become their local community partner in 2015

    Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Each year, LifeScan Scotland partners with an organisation to deliver a programme for the local community via the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust. The following information is required for the initial stage of the funding proposal. 

    1. The aims and purpose of your organisation and an overview of the programme.
    2. A financial breakdown of the programme with timelines.
    3. A plan for sustainability of the programme.
    4. Details of proposed/definite funding from other sources.

    This information should be submitted to Fiona Bell, by 19 November 2014. The project value should not exceed £50,000 and should be over a two or three year period. 

    Please note that once all proposals have been submitted, one will be selected for 2015 by the LifeScan Scotland Community Support Group. This means that your proposal may not be successful in 2014 but you are welcome to apply again in 2015.

    For more information, contact
    Fiona Bell
    Community Relations & Event Advisor
    LifeScan Scotland Ltd
    Beechwood Park North
    IV2 3ED

    01463 721005 email

    Fuel Good for free and get your fleet checked too

    Posted Monday, July 28, 2014

    You can reduce the operating costs and emissions from your business/organisations cars, by taking advantage of a free, online service from the Energy Saving Trust Scotland. Called a Fleet Health Check it can result in cost and emissions savings of 10 to 20 per cent over three years.
    You can also reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions by training employees to drive more efficiently. FuelGood driver training does this, and is now available free to Scottish businesses. The training can result in a 15% reduction in fuel consumption, based on 12,000 miles per year and reduced wear and tear on tyres, brakes and clutches, all of which will help to reduce carbon footprint.

    In a FuelGood training session an approved driving instructor provides the car and insurance and meets trainees at the workplace for a one-on-one 50-minute instruction session. Up to eight drivers can be trained per day. 

    If you have any questions, or would like to book training, please email, call 0808 808 2282 to speak to your local sustainable transport adviser or visit the Energy Savings Trust website for more information.

    Autumn and creative at Abriachan Community Forest

    Posted Monday, July 28, 2014

    After a three day creative arts workshop with Gordon McLellan of Creeping Toad local school children will be showing off their productions at a performance on 27th September.

    There will also be a Froglife drop-in workshop the day before, on the 26th September too - perhaps a toad will come creeping by . . .  Contact Abriachan Forest Trust for more information at

    Saturday 27th September will be a busy one for Abriachan, with a Tree Stories CPD day being run by Claire Hewitt. More details and a booking form can be downloaded here
    Read the Outdoor Woodland Learning FCS forest Education news bulletin here.  

    Scotland’s National Peatlands Plan

    Posted Thursday, July 24, 2014

    Scotland’s National Peatlands Plan

    Peatlands are a valuable resource. They are a home for many species of wildlife. The blanket bog of Caithness and Sutherland is made up of a staggeringly complex network of mosses and invertebrates, hen harrier and merlin hunt over the myriad pools and burns, wading birds such as greenshank, dunlin and golden plover call evocatively over the wide expanse, and both red and black-throated divers breed here. They are also increasingly recognised as huge carbon storage area and a vital part of our effort to combat climate change.The RSPB leaflet gives a good general overview of the wildlife and issues associated with the Flow Country blanket bog.

    It is estimated that 70% of Scotland’s blanket bog and 90% of the raised bog has been damaged, so  care and restoration is vital. Government funded Peatland Action is just one of the responses to this - see the article on our website for more details.  

    Scottish bogs form a key part of the Scottish Government’s climate change targets and ‘Scotland’s National Peatlands Plan’, sets out the importance of these areas, and proposes how they should be looked after for the future, including some of the research and awareness raising work required.

    They are keen to get everyone’s views on these proposals - individuals as well as organisations - and the consultation is open until 12th September. You can download the attractively designed plan and a response form from the SNH website.  
    Photograph from RSPB 

    Highland Landfill Community Fund - applications invited

    Posted Saturday, July 19, 2014

    The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is a tax credit scheme enabling operators of landfill sites to contribute money to projects that create environmental benefits or improve the lives of communities living near landfill sites.

    The Highland Council has decided to allocate all its LCF tax credit monies towards biodiversity-related projects. It is looking to support site-based, capital projects that help conserve important species or habitats.
    Find out all about the fund on the Highland Biodiversity website

    Join the Junior Cliimate Challenge

    Posted Wednesday, July 09, 2014

    Free Junior Climate Challenge Fund workshops will be taking place in four locations around Scotland in July and August.  
    If you are 21 or under and interested in tackling climate change by running a project that involves transport, energy efficiency, food or simply having less stuff, a Junior Climate Challenge Fund (JCCF) grant could help you by providing funds and support.  
    The events have been organised by Keep Scotland Beautiful who manage the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. The Highland event takes place in Aviemore on 7th August from 15:45-17:00 (Aviemore Community Centre, Aviemore, PH22 1SF) All those attending will also earn 500 Young Scot low carbon reward points. This event is free, but please complete the online registration available through the Keep Scotland Beautiful events page.
    For further information on the please see

    Don’t let mushrooms go to your head

    Posted Tuesday, July 08, 2014

    “With greed comes ruthlessness” says one farmer after seeing bags of chanterelle mushrooms disappearing from his woods to pay for luxury holidays. The problem is that after this asset stripping approach the mushrooms don’t return. Fungi need to spore and they need their mycelium (the underground web of threads that powers the top living fruiting bodies) in good heart - heavy tramping of the ground and tearing plants from the mycelium are both bad ideas.

    So if you are picking for home consumption or to make money you need to remember several things - starting with the fact that you should have landowner permission before you begin. Most landowners aren’t going to mind someone picking a small amount for themselves, but if you are planning on selling them it stands to reason that you should ask - and it is illegal not to.

    And then . . . go gently, cut or twist the mushroom carefully from the mycelium, try not to trample the ground and above all don’t strip out all the fungi you can see. Leave some of them to mature, spread their spores and create new delicacies for another year.

    The Scottish Mushroom code has all this good advice on an attractively designed information sheet 

    And this SNH information sheet has lots of fascinating fungal facts

    Twinflower and the Cairngorms Rare Plant Project

    Posted Monday, July 07, 2014

    Twinflower, such a delicate beauty, two softly pink bells hanging in perfect symmetry from impossibly thin stems. I remember well the excitement I felt when a Cairngorms patch was first revealed to me, of sitting under the stillness of the pines, getting down close, and marvelling.

    They are a rare Highland plant, and so it good to hear that it is one of four plants being studied by the Cairngorms Rare Plant project, a cooperative project funded by the Esmée Fairburn Trust

    The project will be surveying all known sites, to find out more about what twinflower needs and how it spreads. All this information will be used to advise landowners on how best to look after their precious plants. 

    Because the patches will have been isolated for a long time, it is suspected that a bit more genetic diversity in each area would be good - and so there will also be translocation trials to try and improve seed production.

    If you would like to hear more about it, listen to BBC Radio Scotland’s 8th July 2014 broadcast 

    Twinflower photograph from Trees for Life  whose webpage also has lots of good information about twinflower.

    Environmental Funding highlighted

    Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    Take a look at the Highland Biodiversity website for an up-to-date list of some environmental funding opportunities.

    Climate Challenge Fund open to bids

    Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    The Climate Challenge Fund is open to new bids. Read all about it in the Keep Scotland Beautiful newsletter.

    First whale week festival spotlights western Scotland’s internationally important marine life

    Posted Monday, June 02, 2014

    Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust announce a new annual week-long festival to be launched on World Oceans Day on 8 June, in what is believed to be the first event of its kind in Scotland.
    Humpback whales, orcas and bottlenose dolphins will take over Tobermory on the Isle of Mull between 8-15 June 2014, as conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) celebrates its 20th anniversary with its first Whale Week.
    A wide range of activities and events will be on offer and HWDT hopes that the festival will inspire the local community, schools and tourists to help ensure the long-term survival of these remarkable marine creatures.
    So far 24 cetacean species – including several national and international conservation priorities – have been recorded in the region.
    “We want Whale Week to create a real buzz about western Scotland’s wonderful whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks. We are fortunate to have one of Europe’s most important habitats for these remarkable marine creatures – and by raising awareness and protecting them we can bring economic and social benefits to the entire region,” said Eva Varga, HWDT Operations Manager.
    Guests will be able to step onboard survey boats, hear talks by experts, and enjoy fun and educational activities. There will be a daily treasure hunt and displays at HWDT’s visitor centre; touch tank sessions run by Tobermory Harbour Association and HWDT; a pub quiz and music evening in Tobermory’s Mishnish Pub; and an award ceremony for artwork, music and writing created during the week and for the winners of a window display competition.
    HWDT’s unique research yacht Silurian, previously used in filming of the BBC’s acclaimed series The Blue Planet and nicknamed the ‘floating classroom’, will return from pioneering research expeditions across the Hebrides to Tobermory on 8 June for four days. There will be opportunities to go onboard Silurian and Celtic Mist, the research vessel of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.Presentations will highlight the latest research findings and discuss the killer whales of the North Atlantic, including the West Coast Community living in the Hebrides – a pod thought to be the UK’s only resident group of orcas.
    The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group will discuss their research of humpback whales in the North Atlantic, while local company Sea Life Surveys will describe 30 years of respectful whale watching. The closing day on 14 June will feature beach activities with competitions, demonstrations and creative activities for children, families and adults. Click here for a schedule of Whale Week events.

    Council leader helps to celebrate twenty-five years of pioneering woodland work

    Posted Monday, May 26, 2014

    Drew Hendry, Leader of the Highland Council (left in picture) joined other guests in celebrating twenty five years of pioneering woodland work by the charity Trees for Life. The day at their Dundreggan Estate near Glenmoriston was supported by dozens of local people, with other guests including Trees for Life patron Vanessa Collingridge, MSP Richard Lochhead (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment) and Tim Judge who had cycled 600 miles from London to be part of the celebrations.

    Drew Hendry was enthusiastic about the work of Trees for Life, commenting:

    “I was delighted to plant one of the commemorative trees at Dundreggan Conservation Estate. Trees For Life’s work at this flagship project on natural regeneration and biodiversity aligns very well with the Highland Biodiversity Action Plan, and with Highland Council’s long-term commitment of achieving a carbon neutral Inverness in a low carbon Highlands by 2025 – our Carbon CLEVER Highlands initiative.”

    Remarkably, more than 3,000 species  have been identified so far at Dundreggan, including 10 species never before recorded in the UK. The celebration day had guided walks to explore some of these special sites and the chance to feed wild boar and learn about their role in restoring the forest. Children took part in activities that included animal tracking, pond dipping and games.  A new Trees for Life exhibition ‘From Caledonia to the Commonwealth’ – a stunning photographic exploration of ancient forests across the Commonwealth – was also officially launched by Vanessa Collingridge. The exhibition is part of the charity’s Celebrate project, funded with support from the National Lottery funded Celebrate programme.

    Cyclist Tim Judge (pictured with bike) is raising money for Trees for Life by setting himself the challenge of cycling 5,000 miles this year on his bike Issy and raising  £1 per mile for Trees for Life. Tim is full of praise for the work of Trees for Life, 

    “These magnificent Caledonian woodlands, which to many people are synonymous with Scotland, are one of our most highly prized natural assets, and conserving and expanding these beautiful woodlands is vitally important for the integrity of our landscape and the vitality of our biodiversity.
    “Trees for Life has played an important part in that conservation effort and 25 years of restoration is certainly something to celebrate, especially in this Year of Homecoming that focuses on Natural Scotland.”

    Tim can be supported in his cycle challenge at

    Summing up Trees for Life’s Executive Director Alan Watson Featherstone said:
     “I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this remarkable achievement, and everyone who will help us in the future as we expand and extend our innovative work to restore the world-class wildlife and landscapes of the Highlands.”

    Highland Conservation Volunteering

    Posted Monday, May 19, 2014

    For a comprehensive list of all the Highland Conservation volunteering opportunities take a look at the Highland Biodiversity website.
    If you've got conservation or sustainability related volunteering places you'd like to fill get in touch with us at and we'll promote them on the Highland Biodiversity site and on our own websiteFacebook  and twitter pages.

    Health Inequality - join the debate, get involved

    Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    On Wednesday 28th May SCVO and Glasgow Caledonian University will be hosting a debate exploring the role of human rights in reducing health inequality at Eden Court, Inverness from 2.00 - 4.00pm. During the afternoon they will be seeking answers to the question ‘Is reducing health inequality about improving health services, or realising our social and economic rights?’ Places are free but limited. 

    You can also get involved in a new health inequality focussed forum which supports third sector organisations and community groups in their work to reduce health inequality in Highland. The forum is run by the Highlands and Islands Equality Forum (HIEF) and the Highlands Third Sector Partnership (HTSP) and is intended to be an opportunity for a more organised and collaborative approach to reducing health inequality from within the Highland third sector.

    The forum is for third sector organisations, community groups and individuals who are active in their community. 

    For further information on the debate or forum Sasha Devine at HIEF -  email or tel: 01463 258 801 

    Nature of Scotland Awards - time to enter

    Posted Monday, May 12, 2014

    There’s still time to get your entry in to the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards. There are eight categories pen to individuals and organisations across the country that go the extra mile to protect Scotland’s wildlife and the natural environment, you can find out more at

    The categories are:
    1. Community Initiative Award
    2. Innovation Award
    3. Marine Conservation Award
    4. Outstanding Contribution Award
    5. Politician of the Year Award
    6. RSPB Species Champion Award
    7. Sustainable Development Award
    8. Youth and Education Award

    The closing date for entries is Friday 30 May 2014.

    Enjoying the Caledonian Canal

    Posted Monday, May 12, 2014

     Stephen Wiseman, the Caledonian Canal Heritage Officer has lots of plans for sharing the pleasures of being beside the canal this summer. Find out all about them on the Highland Biodiversity website.
    The photograph shows helpers near Fort William. 


    Craftbomb a flashmob in voluntary arts week

    Posted Thursday, May 08, 2014

    Voluntary Arts Week starts on 9th May and runs until 18th May.  Anyone who gets creative purely for the love of it can take part in Voluntary Arts Week – taking part is a great way to showcase your creativity and reach out to new members. Why not take your talent outside and stage a ‘Flashmob’ in a public space, organise a Craftbomb, or hold a taster session to encourage newcomers to join your group.
    To find out more, visit – and if you have a special event or regular meet-up / rehearsal that falls during Voluntary Arts Week, make sure you list it on their website, so they can help to promote it.

    Get in a spin - cycle through May

    Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    There’s a lot of cycling happening during May, on and off road, for fun and for charity.

    Highland Council has signed up for Inverness to take part in the European Cycling challenge from the 1st to 31st May. The City that “rides” the longest total distance wins!

    The challenge is open to everyone who lives in Inverness or who cycles to and from Inverness. All journeys made by bicycle instead of other means of transport (such as car, motorcycle or any engine powered vehicles) are accepted. As an example: journeys to and from workplace, school, to shopping, to go to the cinema, etc all count. Sadly sport activities do not.
    Participation is free. You can sign up to cycle for Inverness on the European Cycling challenge website,  where you can download a smartphone app to enable you to track your journeys by bicycle. Help to promote Inverness as a cycling city and get fit at the same time - can’t be a bad idea!
    If you enjoy biking, relaxation, a challenge and some beautiful scenery then the Rock and Road festival at Tomintoul and Glenlivet from the 9th to 11th May could be for you. During the weekend there’s sportive and off road racing, coaching sessions, guided off-road exploring, a treasure hunt, bmx demo and more. Find out all the details on the Rock and Road website. 
    If some of the Rock and Road cycles sound challenging, how about 600 miles from London to Dundreggan, nr Glenmoriston in six days.
    That’s the target Timothy Judge (pictured) has set himself as part of his ambitions aim of cycling 5,000 miles during 2014 in order to raise money for Trees for Life’s 25th anniversary.
    Tim said: “I’m supporting Trees for Life because restoring the UK’s biodiversity and lost woodlands is the biggest step we can make in ensuring that our children have a wonderful place to live. It also makes economic sense to protect the lands that give us everything from the food we eat to the oxygen in the air.”
    Tim aims to raise £1 for every mile he cycles in 2014. Since his challenge began as a New Year’s Resolution, he has cycled almost 500 miles on his bike Issy. He can be supported at Tim’s progress can be followed at
    Tim will be arriving at Dundreggan for Trees for Life’s 25th anniversary celebration open day on Sunday 25 May. The event will include guided walks to explore ancient woodlands and spot wildlife, opportunities to meet and feed wild boar and learn about their role in restoring the forest, the exclusive launch of Trees for Life’s 'Forests of the Commonwealth' photographic exhibition, plus lunch and all-day refreshments. Children’s activities will include animal tracking, pond dipping and games.Trees for Life’s Executive Director Alan Watson Featherstone said: “We’re delighted and moved by Tim’s inspiration and commitment in setting this ambitious challenge for himself. We hope it will be a rewarding journey for him, whilst generating vital support for our work to restore the Caledonian Forest to one of the UK’s wildest landscapes. We look forward to welcoming Tim on his arrival at Dundreggan on 25 May.”

    HEN chicks for Easter

    Posted Monday, April 21, 2014

    Hens and their chicks come to mind at this time of year - and so it seems an appropriate moment to invite you to nestle under our wings and become a HEN member. It is FREE, because HEN is all about building a strong network that can share valuable environmental information and skills. 
    Members receive : 
    • 4 e-newsletters a year
    • e-bulletins containing environmental news and handy tips
    • reduced rates for HEN training events and a vote at the HEN AGM.
    And it is a great way to show your support for what we do.
    Membership is open to individuals and to groups or organisations. 
    The more people that are involved the stronger the network will be. If you’d like to join us download a form from our membership page or email
    If you’d like to join our mailing list to get newsletters and e-bulletins you can do this on our subscription webpage.

    Black Isle Raptor killings - 'shocking, grim and distressing'

    Posted Monday, April 14, 2014

    Protestors in Inverness on Saturday 12th April made their clear their opinion on the recent Black Isle raptor killings.

    The death of 14 red kites and 5 buzzards has shocked many, received national attention and attracted a £27,000 reward for information leading to prosecution.
    The campaign against the illegal killing of birds of prey has been active for decades, perhaps this will be the tipping point that brings about change.
    Twenty-five years after the red kite was reintroduced to the Black Isle in 1989 there were only 25 breeding pairs in the core Black Isle population with another 30 pairs in the wider Easter Ross area and around the Dornoch Firth. By contrast the red kite introduction that first took place in the Chilterns in the same year resulted in some 600 breeding pairs of kites, some ten times that of the Highland introduction.

    Commenting on the illegal Black Isle killings SNH Chairman Ian Ross said:

    “We in SNH condemn any form of wildlife crime and the growing catalogue of suspected cases in the Black Isles is shocking, grim and distressing.

    "Nature-based tourism is worth £1.4 billion a year to Scotland's economy. It's clear that acts like this detract from that value and diminish Scotland's appeal as a major wildlife tourism destination. They can also damage the local economy as many locals and visitors are keen to see these magnificent birds in the wider countryside. And, of course, it causes an appalling level of natural heritage and wildlife damage.

    "We're committed in this case, as in all others, to working strongly in partnership with Police Scotland, and other members of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAWS) to stamp out wildlife crime in Scotland.”

    Find out more about Carbofuran the poison most commonly used to kill birds of prey, and which is also lethal to humans. 

    Find out more about the Scottish Government consultation on giving SSPCA more powers to tackle wildlife crime.

    Find out more about Scottish raptor poisonings from BBC News 
    Follow the work of the Raptor Study Group 

    Launch of the Carbon CLEVER Declaration

    Posted Monday, April 14, 2014

    Launch of the Carbon CLEVER Declaration
Wednesday 30 April 10am to midday, 
Craigmonie Hotel, Inverness
    A free event for business and organisations to find out more about the Carbon CLEVER Declaration; how to make financial savings;  get free support and advice; and hear first-hand about the benefits of signing up.
    Organisations which sign the declaration benefit by…
    • Gaining public recognition and free promotion in print, social media and at events
    • Saving money and reducing carbon emissions by becoming more efficient
    • Accessing free support such as funding maps, case studies and business cases to give you a range of tools to implement real savings
    • Being part of a Highland peer support network and access to the Carbon CLEVER branding.
    How does it work?
    The Carbon CLEVER Declaration offers businesses, organisations, and communities support to make financial savings and become more resource efficient while reducing your carbon emissions.
    What is Carbon CLEVER?
    A flagship initiative with the vision of a carbon neutral Inverness in a low carbon Highlands by 2025. It aims to join up area-wide efforts to make Highland an efficient and competitive place to work and do business; and an attractive place to live. 
    Led by The Highland Council, it is already supported by a range of organisations across the business, public and voluntary sectors.
    Who should attend?
    Any business, community group or public sector organisation interested in finding out more about the Carbon CLEVER Declaration, making financial savings, saving resources and reducing carbon emissions.
    How to book a place?
    Although this event is completely free, places are limited and therefore we recommend that you register first in order to secure your place.
    If you can’t attend the launch, but want to sign the Carbon CLEVER Declaration  email for more information.
    Supported by Resource Efficient Scotland
    Resource Efficient Scotland is a Scottish Government-funded programme that helps business, public and third-sector organisations save money by using resources efficiently. It provides free, specialist advice, access to funding and suppliers, and in-person on-site support to help organisations cut their energy, water and raw material costs.By using resources more efficiently, Scottish organisations could save £2.9bn every year. To make your savings, contact Resource Efficient Scotland today on 0808 808 2268 or visit their website.

    Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) launched

    Posted Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Heat your home for seven years and get paid for doing it - sounds like a good ides. The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which has just been launched will do just that. The scheme is open to everyone – home owners, social and private landlords, and people who build their own homes - and is available to households both on and off the gas grid.

    The scheme will provide payment to homeowners for seven years for the green heat they generate.

    The technologies currently covered by the scheme are:
    Biomass heating systems, which burn fuel such as wood pellets, chips or logs to provide central heating and hot water in a home. Biomass-only boilers are designed to provide heating using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water. Pellet stoves with integrated boilers are designed to burn only wood pellets and can heat the room they are in directly, as well as provide heat to the rest of the home using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water.
    Ground or water source heat pumps, which extract heat from the ground or water. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home.
    Air to water heat pumps, which absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home. 
    Solar thermal panels, which collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. The two types of panels that are eligible are evacuated tube panels and liquid-filled flat plate panels.

    The domestic RHI will pay the following tariffs per unit of heat generated for seven years:
    Air-source heat pumps   7.3p/kWh
    Ground and water-source heat pumps  18.8p/kWh
    Biomass-only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with integrated boilers   12.2p/kWh
    Solar thermal panels (flat plate and evacuated tube for hot water only)  19.2 p/kWh

    Factsheets and guidance on applying for RHI are available from Ofgem  

    Contact Home Energy Scotland for further information: 0808 808 2282

    Report from Highland Biodiversity conference 2014

    Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2014

    The report from the Highland Biodiversity conference 2014 is now a now available online, together with all the pdfs of the speakers presentations. Find out more and download yourself a copy from the Highland Biodiversity website.

    Buzzing bees and beautiful blooms

    Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    Some bees are fussy about where their plants come from (especially it seems those with long tongues), but others are just happy with nectar and pollen, whatever the country of origin. And our gardens are the perfect places to help them all.
    As Dr Mick Hanley, Lecturer in Ecology at Plymouth University, said: “Urban gardens are increasingly recognised for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity,” 
     “In particular, the presence of large densities and varieties of flowering plants supports a number of pollinating insects whose range and abundance has declined as a consequence of agricultural intensification and habitat loss. 
    By growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners ensure that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. But until now we have had very little idea about how the origins of garden plants affect their use by our native pollinators.”
    SO . . .  no need to resist all those brightly coloured plant catalogues, packets of seeds and garden plants - it’s all just for the benefit of wildlife - Honest!
    Find out more about the Plymouth University study
    Get some advice about what bees really like best from Bumblebee Conservation
    (with thanks to Bumblebee Conservation for the photographs)

    Looking for community pilot sustainable transport services

    Posted Monday, March 24, 2014

    Would your community be interested in piloting a sustainable transport project? If so, the Energy Saving Trust would like to hear from you. The trust is developing a pilot project, to be delivered in 2014/15 and are looking for a single community in Scotland with which to investigate options for intensely localised provision and delivery of a range of sustainable transport services. Ideally it would like to identify a place where there is already organised community level activity on sustainability issues.
    The programme will seek to achieve a critical mass of activity in an area, so that different initiatives and activities reinforce each other to boost the overall uptake of sustainable transport services within the target community. Importantly, it would also aim to normalise sustainable transport behaviours and choices among those who live there. Services which could be provided might include:
    • Widespread (free) training within the community in fuel efficient driving 
    • Free Sustainable Transport Reviews for local businesses
    • Electric vehicle (EV) promotional events, with current EV owners to support
    • Local provision of EVs for test drives and direct hands on experience
    • Installation of EV charging equipment if advantageous (homeowners and business)
    • Community-wide travel survey to assess behaviours and aid advice provision to individuals
    • Car sharing engagement
    • Cycling promotion
    • Car club feasibility
    EST is currently seeking expressions of interest from existing community groups who are looking to complement their existing activities with sustainable transport work.
    If you are interested in the initiative, get in touch with who will provide more information.

    A miilion trees, ten thousand acres of new Caledonian Forest

    Posted Friday, March 21, 2014

    As Trees for Life celebrates 25 years of conservation action that has included volunteers planting more than a million trees and the creation of 10,000 acres of new Caledonian Forest, their plans for the future are even more ambitious.

    The charity is expanding beyond its previous work  - the 1,000 square miles west of Inverness and Loch Ness - and is exploring opportunities to restore neglected and derelict Caledonian pinewoods in other parts of Scotland. 

    “Without urgent action, key parts of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest could be lost forever, and forest-dependent wildlife such as the Scottish wildcat and capercaillie could become extinct in the UK,” said Trees for Life’s Executive Director Alan Watson Featherstone.

    The charity’s major plans for 2014 include an ambitious project at Dundreggan Conservation Estate to convert a 300-hectare commercial plantation of non-native trees back to native woodland. This will include a pioneering mire restoration scheme, funded by a grant from Scottish Natural Heritage. The whole project will take over 10 years to complete.

    An area of Dundreggan will be fenced off for restoration of ‘wee trees’, the nationally scarce dwarf birch (Betula nana), as part of a broader plan to create a woodland link between Glen Affric and Glenmoriston, and to expand this habitat for species including black grouse, ptarmigan and golden plover.

    A programme of research on forest ecology will also be carried out at Dundreggan, and the estate will host a 25th anniversary open weekend on 24-25 May. Meanwhile, a new tree planting project will begin in a Caledonian pinewood remnant at Culligran in Glen Strathfarrar in the autumn.

    “We want people to get involved through volunteering or financial support, to help restore Scotland’s threatened habitats and species. Wildlife tourism generates millions of pounds every year, so bringing new life to impoverished woodlands and barren glens can bring economic as well as environmental benefits,” said Alan Watson Featherstone.

    To find out more about Trees for Life, their future plans and how you can get involved - including through volunteer conservation weeks and conservation days, take a look at their website.

    Many thanks go to Laurie Campbell for the use of his fine pine marten picture, which remains his copyright. If you'd like to use this or any of Laurie's many beautiful images you can contact him via his website at

    Pedometer packs from Paths for All

    Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Put a spring in your step with a Paths for All pedometer pack, which you can purchase from their website.
    The packs are available for community groups and individuals and contain:

    • 1 pedometer with a battery and security leash (they retail at £13.99 each)
    • Walker’s guide and diary
    • ‘Walk more feel the difference!’ leaflet
    • Pedometer instruction card
    • Sheet of stickers to record your progress

    Hebridean cetaceans benefit from the Big Lottery

    Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) has been awarded £120,000 through the Big Lottery Coastal Communities Fund.

    Their Sea Change project will strengthen conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises and develop the region’s appeal as a major destination for wildlife tourism.
    “This Coastal Communities Fund award is fantastic news for our work with communities in the Hebrides. We want our Sea Change project to help local people make the most of their natural marine assets – benefitting the conservation of our world-class marine environment and bringing real economic and social benefits to the whole region,” said Eva Varga, HWDT Operations Manager.
    She added: “In the communities involved, the success of our Community Sightings Network – through which people can report sightings of cetaceans, helping us to map their distribution off Scotland’s west coast – and of our educational visits have shown a real enthusiasm for Scotland’s remarkable and inspiring marine biodiversity.”
    The scheme will support local people by developing skills and creating work opportunities through an extended Community Sightings Network.
    It is planned that the Sea Change project will be carried out on Mull, Coll and Tiree, Islay and Jura, Colonsay, Barra, Small Isles (Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna), Mallaig and Arisaig, and in two locations on Skye. Each of these communities attracts tourism and has seen an increase in wildlife tourism in recent years.
    The Sea Change project will directly create two new jobs -  a new full-time Sightings and Strandings Officer and a new visitor centre manager - advertised on their website where you can also find out more about the Sea Change work.

    People's Millions competition open

    Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014

    Have you got a good idea for spending up to £50K? The the People’s Millions competition, run in conjunction with ITV, could be just the thing for your community.
    The winners are decided by public vote and, on occasion, more than one award has been made in a particular area. To date a very wide range of projects have been supported from village halls, sensory gardens, and environmental projects to multi-use games and play areas. 
    The competition is open to voluntary and community groups, local authorities, schools, statutory health bodies and branches of organisations or partnerships.
    The deadline for groups to apply is 12 noon on 16 May 2014.
    More info is available on the Big Blog Scotland
    To apply, go to the People's Millions website

    Green transport - what do you think of the Highland Council strategy?

    Posted Thursday, March 06, 2014

    The Highland Council is keen to find out what you think of their draft Green Transport Strategy, and you've until 30th April to let them know. 
    The strategy aims to find viable alternatives to the one-person-per-car situation so many of us can find ourselves in.
    As Councillor Graham Phillips, Chairman Transport, Environmental & Community Services Committee, said in the Council press release: “Tests of the strategy’s success will be: whether it delivers comprehensive transport options Highland-wide; the extent to which people opt to use them instead of their cars; and for shorter journeys, the extent to which people choose to walk or cycle. We will report on progress annually."
    Find out more about the proposals, and submit your comments by going to the Highland Council website. 

    Arkleton Trust to fund study visits

    Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    The Arkleton Trust has announced new funding for study and exchange visits to share experience and knowledge of rural development. They're particularly interested in supporting visits to Africa.
    Applications are open to anyone who has a project that can demonstrate the rural development potential of their project. The committee meets every six months, with the next meeting being on 15th April 2014, but applications may be submitted at any time.
    More details about the fund are available on the Arkleton Trust website  

    Greener Communities

    Posted Monday, December 23, 2013

    Our search is back on for Scotland's greenest communities with the second annual Greener Together Awards now open for nominations.

    Greener Communities

    Across Scotland, individuals, neighbourhoods and communities are going greener together. Here you can find out about the Greener Together Community Awards which allow you to nominate projects and initiatives that bring greener living to life, as well as details of local community groups and events that are happening in your area. You can also tell us if you are holding a green event or involved with a community group and we can add details to our site.

    Greener Together Community Awards

    First introduced as part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, the Scottish Government aims to encourage, celebrate and reward community action for the environment around Scotland. The Greener Together Community Awards recognise communities that are participating in, or furthering their active contribution towards a cleaner, greener Scotland. For information on the winners of the 2013 Greener Together Community Awards, click here. The winning projects all bring greener living to life in a creative, innovative and inspiring way and demonstrate the positive effects of the project on the community and local environments.

    Surveys show need to conserve western Scotland’s healthy seas

    Posted Friday, December 20, 2013

    Research surveys conducted by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) during 2013 have identified a remarkably wide range of whale, dolphin and porpoise species – highlighting the need to conserve the rich biodiversity and globally-important marine habitats in western Scotland’s seas.
    The latest research is part of HWDT’s unique and long-term monitoring project of cetaceans –
    whales, dolphins and porpoises – in the Hebrides. With growing concerns over the state of the UK’s seas, and threats to wildlife and ecosystems from human activity, HWDT is calling for volunteers to help continue the pioneering research in 2014.
    In total during 2013, HWDT recorded more than 400 encounters with cetaceans and basking sharks, and made almost 1,000 underwater detections of cetaceans using specialist listening equipment.
    Kerry Froud, HWDT Biodiversity Officer, said: “The impressive range of species of cetaceans and basking sharks that we have documented this year highlights the wealth of marine life in Scotland’s west coast ocean environment – and the importance of ensuring the continued survival of these spectacular animals and maintaining the healthy seas that support them.”
    With the help of 48 volunteers working alongside marine scientists, the charity carried out nine surveys on its research yacht Silurian during 2013. The surveys covered more than 3,000 nautical miles and spanned nearly all of the Hebrides and beyond – from Ballycastle, Northern Ireland in the south, west to the Outer Hebrides, and to Cape Wrath in the north.
    A major encounter – in August near the Isle of Skye – was a rare sighting of three members of a group of killer whales known as the ‘West Coast Community’. This very small group consisting of just five males and four females is thought to be the UK’s only known resident group, but, as no calves have been seen within the group, it is likely to go extinct in our lifetime.
    Other highlights included:
    ·       417 encounters with cetaceans and basking sharks – consisting of 321 encounters of harbour porpoise; 34 of minke whale; 32 of basking shark; 22 of common dolphin; six of white-beaked dolphin; one of killer whale; and one of Risso’s dolphin.
    ·       Recorded acoustic detections of 821 harbour porpoise; 129 common dolphin; six white-beaked dolphin; and one Risso’s dolphin – the latter adding to sparse acoustic data currently available for this species.
    ·       Visual sightings of 316 harbour porpoises, with the species being detected acoustically 821 times. Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s most important habitats for harbour porpoises.
    ·       50 basking sharks recorded in nine days alone in June. Sightings of basking sharks have been increasing in recent years.
    Although little was known about Hebridean cetaceans until relatively recently, HWDT’s work is strengthening knowledge about their distribution, movements, habitats and behaviour. The charity’s findings now form the most comprehensive data available, supporting effective conservation – including by providing researchers and policy-makers with crucial data on cetacean distribution patterns – and benefitting HWDT’s education work.
    HWDT’s findings will contribute to the Scottish Government’s historic initiative to identify areas for possible Marine Protected Areas featuring cetaceans and basking sharks. This year, a network of 33 marine reserves has been proposed. A decision on which will go forward for designation as Marine Protected Areas is expected in Spring 2014 – potentially providing protection to Scotland’s marine environment by preventing damaging activities within the reserves.
    HWDT’s data will also contribute to the Joint Cetacean Protocol, a UK-wide initiative that is combining data from different sources to add to knowledge of cetacean distribution and trends.
    Western Scotland’s seas are one of Europe’s most important habitats for cetaceans. The long, complex coastline, strong ocean currents and wide variety of habitats help make the Hebrides one of the most biologically productive areas in the UK. So far 24 cetacean species have been recorded in the region, many of which are national and international conservation priority species.
    Marine ecosystems are fragile, and cetaceans face increasing stress from human activities including climate change, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, underwater noise and habitat degradation.
    HWDT improves knowledge and understanding of Scotland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises and the Hebridean marine environment through education, research and working within local communities to ensure lasting conservation of species and habitats.
    The charity is recruiting volunteers to take part in its 2014 surveys. Volunteers will live and work onboard Silurian for almost two weeks, working alongside marine scientists, collecting data during visual surveys, and conducting acoustic monitoring including with hydrophones. They will receive full training and assist with the day-to-day running of the research vessel.
    Places on the surveys – which depart from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull or Kyle of Lochalsh – are available from May to September. Participation costs range from £800 - £1,300, which covers boat expenses, supports HWDT’s research programme and includes accommodation, food and insurance onboard Silurian. For details call 01688 302620 or visit

    Want to get involved in your Local Authority's new energy efficiency schemes?

    Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Local Authorities will be putting in their bids to Scottish Government for their 2014-15 programmes in January.
    Now's the time to talk to your Local Authority about how you can work together, so they can include that in their bid.

    Here's what you need to know:

    Home Energy Efficiency Programmes Scotland: Area Based Schemes

    The HEEPS:ABS is a grant scheme from the Scottish Government that is delivered locally by local authorities.
    Each local authorities submits a bid to the Scottish Government for a share of the £60m HEEPS ABS funding pot.
    The local authorities must demonstrate within their bids how they meet the following key objectives:
    · To reduce fuel poverty;

    · To reduce carbon emissions;
    · To lever Energy Company Obligation funding;  and
    · To support the local economy and sustainable local economic development

    Programmes for 2013/14 are underway and the Scottish Government will soon be writing out to local authorities to ask for proposals for 2014/15.
    Proposals range in size from small street based pilot projects for external wall insulation to large area wide programmes accessible to anyone in the A and B council tax bands.
    Each local authority has a different programme and different priorities. These are drawn from council strategies, housing association strategies and local knowledge about particular areas  where the majority of people are likely to be in fuel poverty.
    Local authorities will be considering options for the next year's proposals over the next month, and it is expected that they will be submitting these to the Scottish Government in January.
    This is your opportunity to influence these proposals by making a case for a project in your area. Local authorities value community group support in helping to promote and provide trusted advice about their project on the ground, and it will be extremely valuable for them to work with you in developing new schemes.
    To find out more about HEEPS:ABS schemes and how to get involved you would be encouraged to get in touch with either your local HES contact or the local authority contact in your area.

    It's not always easy to know how to engage with a Local Authority, but this report might help commissioned this report which you can read on the website.

    Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

    Community Transport Vehicle Fund

    Posted Tuesday, December 10, 2013

     The Community Transport Vehicle Fund is a one-off Scottish Government initiative with £1m available for 2013/14. It aims to help community transport operators buy new vehicles either to replace older vehicles or to expand services. This initiative has arisen because the Scottish Government recognises that funding of vehicles is a particular problem for community transport operators and also because community transport meets a number of social objectives, such as:

    ·         giving older and disabled people who cannot use mainstream transport mobility and access to services

    ·         providing access to health and social care services

    ·         helping to build more resilient communities by ensuring that people are not isolated.

    The Scottish Government wishes to provide this support to those organisations whose transport services are likely to have the biggest impact in their communities. It is anticipated that most of the Fund will be used to replace vehicles which are now close to the end of their useful life and which are well used in their local communities. However, vehicles for new services will also be considered though applications will need to be exceptional showing a strong case for the need for and impact of the vehicle.

    The fund is jointly managed by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Community Transport Association (CTA).

    Read the guidance notes before applying

    Download application form (Word doc)

    Year of Homecoming Scotland 2014

    Posted Monday, December 09, 2013

    SNH, Vist Scotland and other partners will be teaming up to celebrate the very best of Scotland’s unique nature and natural landscapes, active experiences, our fantastic natural larder, as well as our creativity, culture and ancestral heritage. Scotland will play host to two world-class events in 2014 - the 40th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and the 40th Ryder Cup at historic Gleneagles in September - in addition to some other fantastic events including the John Muir Festival in April celebrating our exceptional Scot-born naturalist. Find out more on


    Posted Monday, December 02, 2013

    Conservation charity Trees for Life is to benefit from a new anthology of poems edited by Assynt-based poet Mandy Haggith, which is being launched with an event in Findhorn on Sunday 8 December.
    ‘Into the Forest’ – a collection of tree poetry which celebrates the ancient connection between trees and writing – will be launched with a slide-show and poetry reading at the Universal Hall at the Findhorn Foundation, hosted by Trees for Life. There will be readings from a range of Highland poets including John Glenday and Findhorn Community residents Dave Till and Margot Henderson. The event runs from 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm, and entry is by donation.
    Mandy Haggith said: “I want to support the regeneration of woodlands in the Highlands, and I hope that this forest of tree poems will help many people to appreciate the strength of our connection to the woods.”
    Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director, said, “We’re delighted to be involved with this inspiring project. The poems in this book reveal the long-standing cultural importance of trees in Scotland and around the world. The royalties will help us to restore the native forests of the Highlands, ensuring that trees continue to play that role in the future.”
    Mandy is giving her royalties from ‘Into the Forest’ and donations to Trees for Life, which is restoring the ancient Caledonian Forest.
    The new book is organised into chapters following the Gaelic tree alphabet. Before Christianity introduced the Latin alphabet, Gaelic was written using a script called Ogham. The letters of this alphabet look like twigs and there is a tree associated each one, from birch to yew.
    Award-winning charity Trees for Life has planted more than one million trees at dozens of sites in the Highlands. It has pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration by 2018. For details, please visit or call 0845 458 3505.           

    White Paper on Scottish Independence - what does it mean to the third sector

    Posted Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    What does the white paper mean for the third sector?

    More than one million people are living in poverty in Scotland and 30% of our population don't vote and will never set eyes on this weighty document. How are we going to engage them in this debate? We need to get everyone involved in the discussions about Scotland's future and make sure that the debate focuses on the issues that matter to people if we are going to create a more prosperous, fairer and more equal Scotland.
    This is a progressive government which supports the work of charities and third sector organisations, and shares many of our values. This shows in the white paper but equality and social justice will always have to be fought for, independence or not.
    Martin Sime, SCVO chief executive
    Below, we've highlighted the key points from today's white paper on Scottish independence. The following information has been quoted directly from the white paper.
    • Spending commitments
    • Charity funding and tax
    • Welfare
    • International development
    • Culture
    • Environment and rural
    • Energy
    • Economy and Pay
    • Human rights
    • Public service reform

    Spending commitments

    The priorities of the current Scottish Government for the first budget after independence will be to:
    • maintain a commitment to protecting free personal care, free prescriptions, free higher education tuition for Scottish students and free concessionary travel
    • abolish the "bedroom tax"
    • reduce energy bills by moving the cost of the Energy Company Obligation and Warm Home Discount Scheme to the Scottish Government
    • provide 600 hours of childcare to around half of two year olds, as part of a longer term plan to deliver a transformational expansion in childcare
    • equalise the earnings disregard between first and second earners for those already in receipt of Universal Credit
    • increase tax allowances, tax credits and benefits in line with inflation
    • meet international commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international aid

    Charity funding and tax

    Under our plans, the National Lottery will continue in Scotland, with Camelot retaining its licence as operator. We will ensure that Scotland continues to receive our fair share of funding from the National Lottery.
    The Scottish Parliament in an independent Scotland will control both charity law and tax matters. This will enable future Scottish governments and parliaments to consider taxation policy that would enhance opportunities for charitable giving.


    This Government proposes a series of improvements to the benefits system that will:
    • abolish the "bedroom tax", assisting 82,500 households in Scotland - including 63,500 households with a disabled adult and 15,500 households with children - to save an average of £50 per month
    • halt the further rollout of Universal Credit (UC) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in Scotland
    • increase benefits and tax credits in line with inflation
    In the longer term, this Scottish Government will pursue policies which conform with the idea that welfare is a "social investment" - an investment across a person's life that is designed at all stages to promote equality, fairness and social cohesion.
    This Government plans to ensure that those already in receipt of Universal Credit by May 2016 are no worse off than anyone else in the following ways.
    We will:
    • remove housing benefit from the single payment, restore it as a separate benefit and maintain direct payments to social landlords. This Government plans to also maintain housing benefit as a separate payment in any longer term reform. This will provide protection for some of our most vulnerable citizens
    • restore the ability of claimants to receive individual support rather than single household payments. We will maintain such an approach in taking forward any longer term reforms. It is estimated that this will benefit 880,000 individuals, many of them women
    • equalise the earnings disregard between first and second earners and continue such an approach into any longer term reforms. It is estimated that this would benefit as many as 70,000 people by as much as £1,200 a year and will be of particular benefit to women who are most often the second earner in a household.

    International development

    An independent Scotland would enshrine a legislative commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance.


    Under independence, this Government will promote and support culture and heritage, both for their intrinsic value and for the benefits they contribute to Scotland.

    Environment and rural

    An independent Scottish Parliament will have the opportunity to enshrine protection of the environment in a written constitution, ensuring its protection for future generations
    In an independent Scotland, the current Scottish Government plans to review the management of the Crown Estate and consult on arrangements to enhance local control of assets, including greater autonomy for the islands and ownership of the foreshore and local harbours. We also plan to introduce community benefits associated with Scotland's offshore renewable resource.
    If we form the government of an independent Scotland we will show international leadership in tackling climate change.
    If this Government is re-elected in 2016, the Royal Mail will be brought back into public ownership in Scotland, with a commitment to existing service levels including the Universal Service Obligation. In telecommunications policy, our approach will give greater priority to improving geographic coverage, particularly in remote rural areas.


    • promoting decarbonisation of electricity generation, supporting Scotland's climate change ambitions, maintaining Scotland's non-nuclear stance, and delivering greater long-term stability in energy prices for consumers
    • growing a thriving Scottish energy sector, specialising in areas of competitive advantage and creating new jobs
    • tackling fuel poverty in Scotland more effectively, addressing the specific needs of Scottish consumers
    • developing new models of community ownership and community benefit from energy generation and delivering real community empowerment
    • retaining the statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty. The reduction of emissions from housing would also continue to play a key role in meeting our climate change targets.

    Economy and pay

    Our Fair Work Commission will guarantee that the minimum wage rises - at the very least - in line with inflation to ensure that work is a route out of poverty
    We have identified the following priorities to support the Scottish economy for the first session of an independent Scottish parliament:
    • a commitment to increase the personal tax allowance, benefits and tax credits in line with inflation
    • a pre-announced reduction in corporation tax of up to three percentage points
    • a reduction of Air Passenger Duty by 50 per cent
    • work directly with the trade unions, employer associations, employers and the voluntary sector to build a partnership approach to addressing labour market challenges
    • create sustainable employment that pays fairly through changes to the minimum wage and a commitment to the living wage
    The Third Sector must remain a key partner, playing a major role in our economy and in the design and delivery of public services.

    Human rights

    An independent Scotland will safeguard and strengthen Scotland's equality and human rights framework, and maintain our existing strong commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Public service reform

    Independence will enable us to:
    • focus the entire public sector in Scotland more clearly on delivering outcomes that matter for the people of Scotland
    • further integrate public services and rationalise the complex public body landscape, ensuring that public services are delivered in a way that supports our overall approach to improving outcomes for people and communities in Scotland
    • make faster progress in preventing problems arising rather than just treating them when they do occur

    New Rural Policy for Scotland

    Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Almost 100 policy recommendations for rural Scotland have been made in a report published this week for the Scottish Conservatives. The Scottish Rural Commission was set up by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in 2012 with a brief to "develop ideas which would make rural Scotland a better place". Full report

    The Scottish Rural Commission was set up by Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in 2012 with a brief to "develop ideas which would make rural Scotland a better place". The Commission's recommendations include better broadband connections across rural Scotland, looser planning controls, an end to the Council Tax freeze and a stronger focus on tourism. On the issue of land reform, they strongly reject the idea of an absolute right to buy.

    Highland Lift Share proving to be a great success

    Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013 have now got 500 people signed up to lift sharing. Why not join them save yourself some money, meet new people and most of all cut your carbon footprint.

    Additional £10.3 million extends Climate Challenge Fund until 2016

    Posted Monday, October 28, 2013

    An extra £10.3 million is being made available by the Scottish Government to extend the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) until March 2016. 

    The Climate Challenge Fund is a Scottish Government programme which is managed by independent charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

    Applications under £30,000 will also benefit from streamlined monthly funding decisions.

    Grants up to £150,000 per year per project are available through the CCF. In total 612 projects run by community groups across Scotland have been awarded more than £52 million in CCF funding to reduce carbon emissions, tackle climate change and make community improvements.

    Funded projects have included energy efficiency improvements in community owned halls, provision of energy efficiency advice, lower carbon transport schemes, community growing projects and initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle.

    Projects across Scotland have also received £750 Development Grants which are available to assist disadvantaged communities, ethnic minority communities and young people in developing their full CCF or Junior CCF application.  

    All applicants receive help and support from Development Officers at Keep Scotland Beautiful. Keep Scotland Beautiful is the independent charity which is committed to making Scotland clean and green, today and tomorrow.

    APPLY NOW: Next draft application deadline is 6th January 2014

    Conservation Weeks

    Posted Monday, October 21, 2013

    Thinking about a holiday? Conservation Weeks offer an inspiring hands-on conservation experience in breathtaking Highlands scenery of mountains, forests and rivers.

    Natallie Allain, who volunteered in Glen Affric, said: “My experience of volunteering with Trees for Life was nothing but positive. I came away with a new love for the Scottish Highlands, a heightened respect for the majesty of trees and some great new friends!”

    Each Conservation Week includes up to ten volunteers and two group leaders. No previous experience is needed. You must be 18 or over to participate, and there is no upper age limit. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the weeks can be physically demanding. See our Locations page to see how our weeks are graded.

    The price of a week is £350, but we offer a reduced rate of £180 or £90 for concessions – fantastic value since this includes all meals, accommodation and transport from Inverness. 

    If you are interested in finding out more about our volunteering opportunities and/or would like to be added to our day volunteers mailing list please contact Kirsty by email, or phone 01309 691292.

    Enterprise Ready Fund

    Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Grants for enterprising organisations from £10,000 - £25,000 

    Grant for one off initiatives and to help to develop sustainable growth. For full programme details: ERF 
    Closing date for Category three applications - 2nd December  









    CSGN Community Projects Fund Open for Applications

    Posted Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    This year’s CSGN Community Projects Fund is now open. Groups can apply for grants of between £1,500 and £3,000.
    This year we want to focus on projects undertaken for the benefit of, and/or involving children and young people under 16 years of age. The Fund is intended to support small-scale, community led projects that:
    • Deliver green network improvements on the ground; and/or 
    • Increase community use of the green network; and/or 
    • Increase community involvement in the maintenance and enhancement of the           green network locally.
    Projects must be either for the benefit of children and young people and/or undertaken with and by children and young people.
    Funding is available for financial year 2013-14 and therefore activity must be complete by 31st March 2014.
    The Fund is available to community groups able to demonstrate that they represent a community within the CSGN area, how their project will be undertaken with or will benefit children and young people, and that they have the necessary permissions and any match funding.
    The scope of the Fund is deliberately broad – although we are particularly keen to support projects that include tree/woodland planting or management.
    We will consider all types of project activity that can be shown to be enhancing the green network locally or increasing use and involvement by children and young people.
    For more information about the Fund and to access the online application system visit the Central Scotland Green Network website.

    New Climate Challenge Fund initiative opens the way for community groups to access funding in partnership with a range of public, private and third sector organisations.

    Posted Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) is a Scottish Government programme, managed by the independent charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, which provides funding for community groups that are tackling climate change through local community-led projects.

    Scottish community groups remain eligible to apply for CCF funding independently, but the launch of the Ideas Bank will also enable community groups to develop and implement applications in partnership with other organisations.  

    Keep Scotland Beautiful is now inviting a wide variety of proposing organisations like Local Authorities, national charities and community groups already taking action on climate change, to submit project ideas. These ideas will be assessed for eligibility by the CCF team and then made available in template form online, for community groups to prepare an application to the CCF in partnership with one of the proposing organisations.

    Each Ideas Bank project template will need to demonstrate that it will lead to a measurable reduction in carbon emissions and help create a low carbon future. This could include projects such as energy efficiency improvements in community owned halls, provision of energy efficiency advice, lower carbon transport schemes, creation of community growing space and work to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

    578 projects from all over Scotland have already received CCF funding with more than £48.3 million awarded in grants. CCF funding is available until March 2015. Proposing organisations are urged to submit project templates soon, to allow community groups time to develop applications and complete their projects by this date.


    Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change said:


    “The Climate Challenge Fund has inspired communities from all across Scotland to come together to tackle climate change by reducing emissions through a range of innovative projects. The Ideas Bank is a great way to help the CCF evolve to support even more communities, particularly those that may not think they have the right skills or capacity to come forward with an idea. Working in partnership with supporting organisations, and using ideas from the bank, community groups will be able to develop projects that suit their local circumstances. This will help them cut their carbon footprint, as well as making a real and lasting difference to their local area.” 

     Councillor Stephen Hagan, COSLA Spokesperson for Development, Economy and Sustainability said:  “We welcome the launch of the Ideas Bank. Local authorities are committed to reducing carbon emissions and working with communities. The Ideas Bank provides the means through which we can highlight potential carbon reduction projects for our communities and, work in partnership, to gain the necessary funding to deliver on the challenge of reducing carbon emissions, meeting challenging climate change targets and creating sustainable places for future generations. I am sure member councils will welcome this opportunity to engage with the Ideas Bank of the Climate Challenge Fund.”


    David Gunn, Climate Challenge Fund Manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful said:  “We are excited about the Ideas Bank launch and urge organisations across Scotland to submit Ideas Bank project templates so that community groups will be able to work in partnership with them to reduce carbon emissions and improve their communities.  

    “Climate Challenge Fund grants have been important in supporting community groups across Scotland to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their local areas. We hope that the Ideas Bank will encourage organisations to help even more community groups make local communities more sustainable places to live and work.”

    Scottish Juniper Survey

    Posted Monday, August 19, 2013

    Plantlife Scotland is calling on people to take part in a new survey which will help determine the health of the ancient gin giving juniper bush that is under attack.

    Deborah Long from Plantlife Scotland says “juniper with its blueish green needles and green or black berries is easy to identify. We are asking people to help us by completing a survey form every time they see Juniper in Scotland. If however you notice any orange or brown bushes, there may be a risk of infection by Phytophthora austrocedrae. If this happens people should document this on their survey form but ensure they do not walk around the area and clean mud thoroughly from their boots and equipment”

    Juniper’s decline in Scotland has been due to a combination of ageing bushes (many are over a century old, so producing fewer viable seeds), under-grazing (which prevents germination and suppresses seedlings) and locally booming rabbit and vole populations (which are voracious consumers of juvenile plants).

    Juniper is an important part of Scotland’s landscape and culture:

    The fragrant wood was used as firewood as it burns well. It is also said to burn with less smoke and therefore was the preferred fuel for illegal whisky stills.

    Juniper’s aromatic berries give gin its distinctive flavour, and are regularly used as an ingredient in game dishes.

    The prickly boughs were turned to advantage in the past and used as a substitute for barbed wire.

    The many medicinal qualities of juniper mean that in the Highlands in the past, it was used to treat almost every ailment. Oil extracted from juniper has an ancient reputation as an abortifacient – which perhaps explains another of its names, bastard’s bane. 

    Juniper berries © Tim Wilkins/Plantlife

    Juniper berries © Tim Wilkins/Plantlife

    Help them to help you find funding!

    Posted Monday, August 19, 2013

    SCVO are developing a new funding service which will include a searchable database of funding opportunities. They looking to form a representative user group - from professional fundraisers to grassroots volunteers - that we can approach for occasional advice. Time commitment to the group is completely flexible.

    If you are interested in joining the group, or to find out more, please contact Harriet Grant at

    Call for expressions of interest to form Local Action Groups for the next LEADER programme

    Posted Monday, July 15, 2013

    The Scottish Government is now inviting potential partners to submit Expressions of Interest to form Local Action Groups for the next LEADER programme. The current LEADER programme will end in 2013 and work is being taken forward to develop the next programme, which will run from 2014 to 2020. The Expression of Interest (EoI) is the first stage in an iterative multi-stage application process leading up to the establishment of Local Action Groups and the development and approval of Local Development Strategies in 2014. The closing date for submission of Expressions of Interest is 5th August. You can get more information in Scottish Government invites Expressions of Interest to form Local Action Groups

    Boost to Scottish Land Fund

    Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    At the Community Land Conference held recently on Skye, First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced an additional Scottish Government investment of £3m in the Scottish Land Fund and its extension for a further year to March 2016.

    The fund is jointly administered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Big Lottery Fund and is available to applicants from across the whole of Scotland. It is targeted at rural communities with a population of less than 10,000 who have identified local land or land based rights, which if they came into community ownership, could help transform the economic and social fortunes of that community.

    Aims of the fund include making communities more independent, resilient and confident through management and development of their local resources. Recent community buy outs, such as the purchase of Cultybraggan Army Camp in Comrie, Perthshire and the West Harris Estate, demonstrate that community ownership helps promote economic growth and empowers local people to realise their ambitions.

    Initial enquiries are made to the Big Lottery Fund who determine project and applicant eligibility. Their Advice Line number is 0300 123 7110. Applicants are then allocated a Scottish Land Fund Advisor who will provide support and advice in the development of the project to SLF application stage. This can include advice on organisational structure, community consultation, commissioning feasibility studies and land acquisition.

    Three advisors are now in post, based across Scotland. They are:

    • Lochgilphead: Ailsa Raeburn – covering the West and North of Scotland (together with colleagues in HIE offices) - Contact -
    • Perth: Munro Gauld – covering the East of Scotland (north of the Central Belt) - Contact –
    • Edinburgh: Catherine Francis – covering the South of Scotland (Central Belt and South) - Contact –

    The fund has already helped local communities develop some major projects. These range from acquiring cottages, lighthouses, heathland, visitor centres, a former smokehouse and land for a village hall extension.  Further projects are now being actively sought to help achieve the Scottish Government’s targets for community landownership.

    Helen Macdougall of HIE said,  “The recent announcement by the First Minister is very exciting news for all those communities who want to get involved in owning and managing land and property in their area. Since its launch in 2012 it has helped communities buy assets ranging in size from less than half a hectare to 615 hectares. We have some really interesting projects coming forward, with a huge breadth of options and opportunities for development. With the Fund now extended there are far more opportunities for us to support other communities who have exciting plans for their areas.”

    Earlier this year, Covesea Lighthouse Community Company achieved their dream of community ownership for Covesea Lighthouse, its two keepers' cottages and surrounding land, thanks to the Scottish Land Fund.  

    Franziska Smith of the Covesea Lighthouse Community Company Ltd said, “We found working with the Scottish Land Fund really straightforward. The application process was quick and relatively easy, and the support from the HIE Land Fund Advisor was very helpful when we were developing our ideas and plans for the Lighthouse and Keepers Cottages. Now we own the site the whole community are really keen to see something happen and bring jobs and visitors back to our area.”

    Further information

    Highlands and Islands Enterprise:

    Big Lottery

    Interested in walking for health or developing local paths?

    Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Paths for All is Scotland’s national charity that manages the walking for health programme and helps communities to develop their local paths, with funding from the Scottish Government.

    Info and advice are available from Paths for All. 

    Community Health Walks - Paths for All supports a network of community Health Walk projects that organise free Health Walks every week.  These are short, safe, social, fun, accessible, low level walks led by trained volunteers.  Anyone can come along to a Health Walk and new walkers are always welcome.  

    Two local community projects in Highland benefit from Paths for All’s funding, training and support. Step It Up Highland, run by the charity Partnerships for Wellbeing, organises Health Walks across Highland, and theCairngorms Walking to Health Project runs Health Walks throughout the Cairngorms National Park.  Both projects welcome new walkers, and Step It Up Highland is also looking for volunteer walk leaders, especially in the Caithness, Skye and Inverness areas, full training provided.

    Workplace Walking - Our Walk at Work programme supports workplaces to become more active by setting up staff walking groups and initiatives, and is supported by the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives. Paths for All can provide Small Grants, Pedometer Packs, resources and training for workplaces.

    We recently held a free Walk at Work course in Inverness where 12 delegates from local organisations were trained to set up a workplace walking project and lead walks with colleagues. There is more info on Paths for All’s training courses at:

    Information for Health Professionals - Walking is the perfect activity for health professionals to offer to patients, clients or staff teams. Paths for All is keen to work in partnership with health professionals and support you to get your patients, client groups or workplace more active. 

    We have recently launched a new ‘Walk Your Way to Better Strength and Balance’ programme that combines strength and balance exercises with advice on walking to help older adults stay active and independent.  For information about this and other resources for health professionals, please visit:

    Local People Local Paths - Paths for All provides support, guidance, training and advice to community groups, development trusts and volunteers who are looking to improve their local path networks.  We run a variety of training courses for groups, in addition to providing a 'one stop shop' service for support and advice. 

    Further Information - For information about community and workplace walking for health, please contact Helen Wilson, Development Officer at Paths for All (Tel: 01463 725159; visit our website

    For information about our Local People Local Paths initiative, please contact or visit the 'Developing and Managing Paths' area on

    Step It Up Highland (Web:; Email:; Tel: 01463 729997)

    The Cairngorms Walking to Health Project (Web:;; Tel: 01339 880081)

    Junior Climate Challenge Fund

    Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    The Youth Panel who will assess Junior Climate Challenge Fund (JCCF) applications is now in place. The panel range in age from 12 to 17 and will also be helping to develop promotional material for the Fund as well as acting as ambassadors for the JCCF across Scotland.

    Applications for JCCF grants are invited now and Development Grants of £750 are available to assist Young People developing their JCCF application. For further information please see the JCCF webpage

    Climate Challenge Fund is OPEN for applications

    Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Climate Challenge Fund is OPEN for applications, 2013 & 2014 deadlines confirmed.

    13 projects received over £2.1 million of funding in the 13th round of grants from the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund Applications are invited for presentation to grant panels taking place in 2013 and 2014:

    Grant Panel 15, 18th Sept 2013: Deadline for draft applications is 5th July 2013.  Deadline for final application is 31st July 2013.

    Grant Panel 16, 11 December 2013: Deadline for draft applications is 30 September 2013. Deadline for final application is 29 October 2013.

    Grant Panel 17, 17 March 2014: Deadline for draft applications is 6 January 2014. Deadline for final application is 27 January 2014.

    Groups interested in applying can learn more on our CCF website about funding available, information and criteria and are encouraged to see our how to applywebpage.

    Consultation on Scotland Rural Development Programme

    Posted Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    The first phase of the consultation on the future of the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) is now underway. The SRDP delivers funding to a wide range of rural projects from village halls to farm diversifications. A series of 14 SRDP roadshows also began this week in Portree. Events are taking place next week in Perth (7th May), Inverness (8th May) and Kirkwall (9th May). You can find out more, and get links to the consultation documents and full list of events, in Consultation on future Scotland Rural Development Programme launches.

    Shortlist for the Scottish Charity Awards 2013 unveiled

    Posted Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Check out the shortlist for the Scottish Charity Awards 2013, announced today. The shortlist includes major national organisations, community groups, partnership projects and individuals who have channelled their energies into making Scotland a better place to live including a few environmental organisations!

    In total 24 organisations have been shortlisted across five categories:  

    Charity of the Year 

    Community Action

    Campaign of the Year


    Charity Champion

    Partnership of the Year

    Cast your vote at Voting is open until 5pm on 20 May.

    New Charity - Everything Baby

    Posted Friday, May 03, 2013

    Everything Baby is a new social enterprise providing pre-loved baby goods and parenting support to Highland families. We became a registered charity in April and are approaching various funders to help us get off the ground. Our aim is to open a dedicated pre-loved baby goods shop in Inverness in Summer 2013. If you have any queries about donations, volunteering or working with us, we would love to hear from you. For more information, please Please do 'like' our Facebook page to stay updated - Everything Baby Highland. Thanks for your support!”


    Posted Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    Scotland’s first purpose built cycling track for people with physical and learning disabilities is set to open outside Inverness this spring.
    The new cycle track – to be known as the Highland Cycle Ability Centre - will be a first for the Highlands and Scotland, and will help to raise the profile of disabled sports, building on the legacy of the 2012 Paralympics. Although primarily built for training the next generation of spe-cial- and Para-lympians, the new 1 km track, which will offer time trial technology, will also be available for use by disabled and able-bodied cycling clubs, local schools and community groups. The centre will offer a variety of specialist bicycle models to meet the different needs of its users, including tricycles for added stability, arm-powered handcycles, tandems for visually impaired cyclists, and detachable tandems for wheelchair users. Training workshops on cycle maintenance will also be provided. In time, the aim is to create a multi-purpose facility, with BMX and running tracks.
    Joanna McGregor said: “The Highland Cycle Ability Centre is the first of its kind in Scotland, and will play an important role in supporting young people with disabilities. There are few dedi-cated sporting facilities for young disabled people in Scotland, particularly in rural areas, and so we are delighted to be opening the first centre of its kind in the Highlands.
    “The centre will offer young disabled people opportunities to experience all aspects of cycling, from off-road riding in a safe, yet challenging environment to training workshops on cycle maintenance. Ultimately, the aim will be to enhance their skills and confidence, while at the same time providing a facility that encourages physical activity and helps raise the profile of disabled sports.”
    She added: “This is very much a community facility, and we will be encouraging local schools, community groups and cycling clubs to use the centre. Our aim is to provide a sporting facility where the emphasis is on ability, rather than disability.”
    Charlie Forbes, Disability Sport Development Officer for High Life Highland, said: “This new centre will open new horizons for disabled cyclists to train on a specifically designed cycle track which offers timing systems, which is important for driving performance, and in an area that pro-vides a safe and secure environment. A purpose built area that allows disabled cyclists to train has been much sought after for many years. The opening of this new centre provides a great op-portunity for disabled users across the Highlands and Scotland.”
    This £250,000 project has been spearheaded by the Watermill Foundation, a new trust focused on providing sporting facilities for young people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties, with support from a variety of donors, including Sport Scotland, the Highland LEADER Project, the Robertson Trust and Sport-ed.
    The Foundation is based near Cawdor and works in partnership with Watermill Enterprises, a social enterprise company providing training opportunities for young disabled adults through hor-ticulture. Both organisations aim to break down the social barriers facing young disabled people through sport, training and employment: currently only 39% of adults with a life limiting disability take part in any sport or physical education.
    The Watermill Foundation consists of an experienced team of volunteers committed to improving learning and sporting opportunities for disabled young people across the Highlands. Joanna McGregor, chair of The Watermill Foundation, has worked with disabled people for 40 years. She and husband Alastair were co-founders of Nairn Hydrotherapy Pool and Cantraybridge Rural Skills College, as well as Watermill Enterprises. Other members of the trust have experience in education, sport and skills development.
    Watermill Foundation, The Old Mill, Cantray, Cawdor, Nairn, IV12 5XT (01667 493312)

    Win an environmental face lift!

    Posted Friday, April 26, 2013

    Have you got a patch of unloved overgrown land in your local area? Want to transform it into a haven for bees, butterflies and your local community? 

    The Co-operative are giving seven areas across the UK the chance to win a facelift and be planted with pollinator-friendly flowers, to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.*

    So if you’re a school, community centre, friends of a local park, or any other form of community interest group who have a patch of land that is used by the local community and needs some help, why not nominate today!

    Bikes on the 26A bus route!

    Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    From April 15th to the October 2013, Stagecoach buses on the long route from Inverness to Cromarty (the 26A) will have the capacity to carry up to 4 bicycles. This has been made possible by a partnership between Stagecoach, The Highland Council, HiTrans and the Million Miles project. The route was chosen as it passes through several commuter villages, which are also tourism destinations and the Black Isle has a variety of family/leisure cycle options in addition to the fact that the route passes the Red Rock Mountain biking centre at Learnie. 

    · It will be the responsibility of cyclists to load their bicycles onto the carrier on the rear of the vehicle;

    · Spaces can be booked in advance provided at least 3 hours’ notice is given and bookings are available up to 16:00 each day;

    · To book call: 01463 258934 or email:

    · Don’t forget that cyclists in Highland can take their folding bikes on all Stagecoach services!

    Want to get your workplace moving?

    Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    The Walk at Work Step Count Challenge is back. Now's the chance to step into spring and get more active! Over 8 weeks teams of 5 record their daily step counts using pedometers. The emphasis of the challenge is on setting personal goals and getting more active. We'll give you tips and ideas on how to create a virtual journey by counting your steps and converting them into miles. There will also be some fantastic prize draws and challenges to keep you going.

    This year's challenge begins on Monday 15th April and runs until Sunday 9th June. To register your workplace you need to:
    Download a Coordinator Information Pack
    Recruit your teams and complete the online Registration Form
    Distribute the Team Information Pack and pedometers to staff
    Complete a short online survey
    Get walking
    Don't forget to follow the challenge on our blog. We'll keep this updated with the latest news, your stories and competitions.

    Please note: Registration forms should be returned by Friday 29th March. Spaces and pedometers will be allocated on a first come first served basis. There is a registration fee of £5 per head. This charge contributes to the running costs of the challenge which includes the pedometers and challenge administration. There is a maximum of 10 teams per organisation.

    To find out more visit

    The Earth Connections Sustainability Centre

    Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    The Earth Connections Sustainability Centre, on the Isle of Eigg, offers residential eco-courses and holidays, that will give you the chance to live more sustainably and reconnect with the natural world. 

    Courses include: Intro to Sustainability, Low Energy Living, Renewable Energy, Beekeeping for Beginners, Fun with Nature and much more…We have lots of other activities on offer too - such as wild camping, yoga classes, sailing trips, and cycling - to make your stay here an unforgettable and fun experience!

    For more details contact us at:


    tel:  01687 482495


    Village Halls and Community Buildings Project Visit

    Posted Monday, February 04, 2013

    Would you benefit from visiting an innovative community building that is working towards similar goals to your own project, initiative or enterprise? Are you interested in learning about the KeyStone quality award for community buildings? We're excited to announce details of our Village Halls and Community Buildings themed project visit to Boat of Garten Community Hall. This free event will take place on 7th March, with overnight accommodation and a networking dinner the evening before. Places are limited, so if you'd like to attend please register your interest by 22nd February. Find out more in Village Halls and Community Buildings Project Visit announced - apply now!

    Green Routes to Feeling Good Conference - still a few places left!

    Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Green Routes to Feeling Good - Health links with the environment

    Highland Environmental Network Conference & Showcase Event

    Saturday 2nd March 2013

    Millburn Academy, Diriebught Road, Inverness

    Green Routes to Feeling Good Conference 10 – 4pm

    Join our inspiring and informative day with a wide range of speakers and workshop sessions led by health and environmental experts. This event is aimed at anyone that works or is interested in healthcare or the environment. 

    Green Routes to Feeling Good Public Showcase 2 – 4pm

    A free fun event aimed at all age groups with a wide range of taster sessions and demonstrations to take part in.

     Do you want to start growing or cooking your own food?

    Are you interested in becoming more active or enjoying the outdoors?

    Would you like to start walking more or getting your bike back on the road?

    Come and have a go and find out what’s on offer in your area.

    For the full programme or to book your place or email or call 07733771186



    Take Part in Earth Hour

    Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    At 8.30pm on 23 March, hundreds of millions of people will turn off their lights for one hour, across the globe in a symbolic show of support for action on climate change and for a more sustainable future.

    Highland Council will again be supporting the event by switching off floodlights at local landmarks including: Inverness Castle, Cathedral and Ness bridge floodlights in addition to Urquhart Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, Ruthven Barracks and Spey Bridge in Grantown. 

    We would encourage any Highland people and organisations who do not already do so to take part.  The Earth Hour website and the attached document offers a Toolkit highlighting details, ideas and case studies of action and below are contact details for Kirstie Shirra the Earth Hour Coordinator for Scotland.

    This year’s Earth Hour is celebrating the power of nature – the way renewable energy can help move us away from fossil fuels and reduce global carbon emissions. This is especially important in Highland with our wealth of wind, tide and waves.

    We intend highlighting our carbon reduction achievements within our Earth Hour publicity.  The Highland Council has reduced carbon emissions from its services and operations from energy and fuel use by 13% since 2007/08, ahead of the 12% reduction target set in the Carbon Management Plan.  This has been achieved through reduced energy use in the Council’s estate, fewer business miles travelled, fleet fuel savings and a reduction in waste disposal.  New actions are being developed to continue to reduce carbon emissions that will meet the Scottish Governments target of 42% overall saving by 2020 as set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. More information is available at:

    Next round of Climate Challenge Funding June 2013

    Posted Friday, January 18, 2013

    Applications for Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) grants are invited for consideration by the CCF Grants Panel in June and September 2013. Funding of £10.3 million a year is available until March 2015.

    CCF grants have provided funds and support for Scottish community groups to work with their community to:

    ·         Provide energy efficient refurbishments of community buildings and energy efficiency advice

    ·         Provide household energy efficiency surveys and advice to cut fuel bills

    ·         Create growing space so the community can grow their own food

    ·         Implement lower carbon transport projects, so the community can move away from their cars


    These projects have reduced carbon footprint, helping to tackle climate change and led to community improvements while creating employment and training opportunities. 

    Santander annouce a new Community Grant worth £1.23 million

    Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

    Santander are delighted to announce the launch of  the Community Plus grant
    fund worth £1.23 million. Designed to be quick and easy to use, nominations
    can be made by charities as well as Santander customers and staff. Just
    visit any Santander branch and complete a simple nomination form. The
    completed form should be dropped into the box provided in your local branch.
    There are no closing dates and entries will be regularly considered by a
    panel of staff drawn from across the region. Successful charities will be
    notified within 2 months of submitting their nomination.

    The grant needs to fund something specific e.g.  a piece of equipment or to
    pay for the costs of a part time sessional worker, and it must also directly
    help disadvantaged people in your local area. You must be a UK registered
    charity. Find out more at

    Trustees needed for new charity

    Posted Saturday, January 12, 2013

    EverythingBaby is an exciting new project which aims to provide pre-loved baby goods and parenting support to Highland families.  This social enterprise will host parenting workshops, create volunteering opportunities and open a dedicated shop where local families can purchase high quality and affordable pre-loved baby goods.  EverythingBaby will be a registered charity and company limited by guarantee and is looking for 3 trustees.  In particular, members of the public with specific expertise in retail or charity shop management, accounting, volunteering or early years support are being sought.

    If you are interested in this opportunity then please reply by 25th January, stating your interest to  If you would like further information , you can call Katy on 07788 829996.

    New small grant for paths

    Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Paths for All has just launched a new Local People Local Paths small grant of up to £1,500 which constituted path groups, Community Councils, Development Trusts, community woodlands and health walking projects can apply for to improve and develop local paths. There's more info, including guidance and application forms, on our website at:  The deadline for applications is 25th February. 
    If you have any queries about the grant, or would like to be added to our contact list to receive further info about our community paths support, please contact our Local Paths Development Officer, Fiona McInally, on  01463 725153 or email

    Fancy getting a free lunch through smarter driving?

    Posted Tuesday, January 08, 2013

    Smarter driving advice from the Energy Saving Trust can help buy Scottish motorists a free lunch.

    The Free Lunch app can show how much you’d save by inflating your car’s tyres, switching off your air conditioning or following a host of other top tips. That’s money which you could use to buy your lunch every day!

    What’s more, users of the app can not only learn a whole range of useful driving tips but also have the chance to win £500 worth of supermarket vouchers.

    To try the app, visit For more information on smarter driving, call the Energy Saving Trust’s Advice Line on 0845 512 012 or visit the website at


    Posted Sunday, December 02, 2012

    Man working in allotment

    At this week's Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) Gathering Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced a refresh of the funding scheme. The CCF was launched by the Scottish Government in 2008 and provides funds and support for community groups wanting tackle climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of their community.

    The refresh aims to increase uptake of Climate Challenge Fund grants, with an emphasis on ensuring the fund is accessible to the most disadvantaged communities, including communities experiencing multiple deprivation. The refresh will also implement manifesto commitments for a Junior Climate Challenge Fund and revenue raising by CCF projects for the first time.

    Mr Wheelhouse said, “The Climate Challenge Fund empowers communities, helping them to implement innovative solutions to give their community a more sustainable and low-carbon future.

    “But we must continue to take urgent action to minimise the impact of climate change on the children of today – and, indeed, their children – who are likely to feel the worsening impact of climate change

    “The Youth Panel will place young people in the driving seat of the JCCF and will help bring forward the next generation of projects. I look forward to these youth-led projects coming forward, bringing with them fresh and innovative ideas to help communities reduce their carbon emissions.

    “The CCF must evolve to widen its scope and ensure more communities can develop projects that cut their carbon footprint and embed significant changes into community life.

    “Introducing development grants will help the CCF to reach out to communities who may not have had the resources to apply previously. This should inspire a new generation of projects which will bring climate action, and justice, to those communities in Scotland that are likely to be the hardest hit by the impact of climate change, but may be the least engaged.

    “But Scotland cannot act alone. Worldwide action is necessary and that’s what I’ll be pressing for at the UN climate talks in Doha next week. I want to see more action and higher levels of ambition across the world and I hope other countries will be encouraged to match Scotland’s level of ambition.”

    Louise McDonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot and member of the CCF Grants Panel, said, "In the same way as a low-carbon Scotland is about right now, as well as the future, so is young people’s role in making it happen, in homes and communities across the country for every day.

    “Young Scot knows from the young people we work with that this is an issue that matters to them, so we want to support them as agents of change in leading the way to a low-carbon country which inspires others across the world.”

    CCF is administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful and further details about the refresh of the fund can be found on their website.


    Posted Sunday, December 02, 2012

    energy rating street

    News from BBC Scotland

    Ever wondered how much power it takes to cook a frozen pizza, power a games console, or take a hot shower? Ever considered using alternative energy to power these appliances, reducing your carbon footprint and your energy bills?

    BBC Scotland’s The Day the Power Went Off is an entertaining television documentary that looks at the way we use power in our own homes.

    In this fun experiment, a Scottish street will go ‘off grid’ and explore the possibilities of alternative power. However, this is not a step back in time experiment, as the street will continue to use modern gadgets and live their day-to-day lives. With the help of Eco-experts and inventions, individuals will decide on the best way to cook, wash and keep warm in their homes. And they will have to be creative in powering up the karaoke machine and hot tub for the street party!

    We are looking for a Scottish street or collection of houses in the north of Scotland who could be interested in this project. The programme will be filmed in March 2013.

    If you would like to hear more about this project, or know of any potential people or streets who might like to take part, please contact Natalie Moss at BBC Scotland: Tel: 0141 422 6342 /

    Land Reform Review Group Calls for Evidence

    Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Land Reform Review Group calls for evidence

    Dr Sarah Skerratt, Dr Alison   Elliot, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and Professor Jim Hunter

    Do you have interest in land reform in Scotland? The Land Reform Review Group (LRRG) want to hear from individuals and organisations to help inform their work. The group issued a call for evidence this week, with a closing date for submissions in January 2013.

    new website has also been launched where you can find information, documents and updates on the Land Reform Review.

    The LRRG was set up by the Scottish Government earlier this year, although the work of the group will be carried out independently from government. The group is chaired by Dr Alison Elliot, with Dr Sarah Skerratt and Professor Jim Hunter as vice-chairs.

    The LRRG have a wide remit and want to hear from those with an interest, or involvement in, a range of sectors from farming to forestry, from social and affordable housing to economic and community development. And the LRRG's report and recommendations will have an impact not only on the countryside, but also on towns and cities.

    The closing date for submissions is 11th January 2013. You can find out more, and get links to the Call for Evidence and the group's Work Plan in Land Reform Review Group call for evidence. We have also set up a page in our news section where you can find information and updates on the Land Reform Review.

    Scottish Land Fund

    Posted Monday, November 12, 2012


    The Scottish Land Fund will support rural communities to become more resilient and sustainable through the ownership and management of land and land assets. It will provide practical support and funding to enable local people to work together to develop their ideas and aspirations and plan and complete viable land and land assets acquisition projects.

    It is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

    The Scottish Land Fund will fund projects that:

    • put communities in control of local land and land assets which are important to their  economic, social and environmental development;
    • enable communities to manage local land and land assets well and deliver benefit for the whole community;
    • empower communities to realise the opportunities they see in local land and land assets to meet local needs;
    • deliver real community involvement and participation in land ownership and management;
    • help communities realise the opportunities created by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003;
    • help create resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.


    If you have any questions about the Scottish Land Fund you can contact us in the following ways:

    Ash Tree Disease Survey

    Posted Monday, November 12, 2012


    Ash tree

    Forestry Commission Scotland have completed the rapid action survey of the disease Chalara affecting ash trees.

    The sample survey shows five percent of sites investigated showed potential symptoms of the disease. These sites will not be revisited for further inspection. Although there is not risk to human or animal health, the public are being asked to behave responsibly to ensure that they do not inadvertently carry ash leaves from one woodland area to another. You can find more details on the Forestry Commission Scotland website.

    Environment & Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse said, “Although the rapid survey has been completed, and the results are to be cautiously welcomed, we still need to be vigilant and there is no room for complacency.

    “To establish the extent of the disease, Forestry Commission Scotland has been carrying out a rapid survey involving inspecting 2,730 ash sites across Scotland. Action is also underway to trace the destination of plants sent out from potentially infected nurseries.

    “Only 5 per cent of the sites visited in the rapid survey showed any potential symptoms meriting more detailed investigations and subsequent laboratory analysis and this work is on-going.

    “In addition to the two sites already confirmed, a further five sites have so far been confirmed as being infected, bringing the total known confirmed cases to seven in Scotland.

    “Further surveys, including more detailed surveys in areas around infected sites, will be needed before we can be confident about the full extent of the disease in Scotland. There is also the possibility of windborne spread of the disease from the continent and from infected sites elsewhere in these isles.

    “I must congratulate all the staff and contractors who have rallied to help us respond to this situation. They have done a magnificent job, working round the clock and across the country to get us these initial results quickly and I am very grateful for their dedication and professionalism."

    As the disease only spreads in summer, typically during July and August, there is now a window of opportunity in which to obtain best scientific advice on the appropriate action to take, including how best to deal with infected sites.

    The two sites previously confirmed are at Knockmountain, near Kilmacolm and a private nursery in the North East of Scotland.

    The further five sites now confirmed are in the following locations:

    • Near Castle Douglas
    • Near Carrbridge
    • Near Blairgowrie
    • Near Montrose
    • Near Eyemouth

    A meeting with key stakeholders in Scotland to discuss Chalara and the findings of the survey is to be hosted by Mr Wheelhouse early next week.

    The Forestry Commission has a dedicated section on their website on Chalara dieback of ash and they have also produced a video on how to spot symptoms of the disease. You will also find information on the Woodland Trust website.


    Posted Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    People walking outside

    From Paths for All

    Paths for All are hoping to organise a Walk at Work training course in Highland, for organisations interested in setting up a workplace walking project, and are trying to gauge interest as we would need a minimum of eight delegates to run the course. 

    The course would be free to attend and is open to delegates from any interested organisations. Information about the course can be found in the Documents section, and would be grateful if you could let me know if you or your colleagues would be interested in attending, approximately how many delegates you would have and what course location(s) you would prefer i.e. Inverness or elsewhere in Highland.  

    For information, please also find an information sheet summarising the support that Paths for All can provide to workplace walking projects in terms of small grants, training and pedometers. There is additional information on our website at:

    Please feel free to pass this message on to colleagues and other contacts. And please let me know if you have any other queries about workplace or community walking for health in Highland. 

    Helen Wilson, Development Officer, Paths for All



    Posted Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    Planting trees

    News from the Woodland Trust

    Applications are now open for communities and schools to apply for free trees from the Woodland Trust for planting in Spring 2013.

    2013 tree packs come in a choice of sizes:

    • small pack (30 trees): for planting a hedge or copse (schools are guaranteed this size of pack)
    • medium pack (105 saplings): for planting in small groups or as a hedge
    • large pack (420 saplings): for a long (120m) hedge or woodland block (1 acre of landed needed)

    and themes:

    • wildlife
    • year-round colour
    • future firewood
    • wild harvest and
    • wetland (coming soon)

    There are 1250 packs available across the UK, so get your application in quickly – they are all likely to be allocated by  January 2013. Delivery to successful groups will be the week commencing 4th March 2013.

    Apply for your free trees on the Woodland Trust website

    Climate Challenge Fund application deadlines for Grant Panel 13 announced

    Posted Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    The date for Grant Panel 13 has been confirmed as 20th February 2013.
    The deadline for draft applications is 2nd December 2012 and the deadline for final applications is 20thDecember 2012. For further information on the application process please see

    Rural Scotland Key Facts

    Posted Sunday, October 07, 2012

    The Scottish Government has recently published this year's Rural Scotland Key Facts document. The report shows that more people in rural Scotland rate their neighbourhood as a good place to live compared to the rest of Scotland. However, there are more people living in extreme fuel poverty in rural Scotland compared to the rest of the country. Find out more in Rural Scotland Key Facts 2012

    People's Postcode Trust - Dream Fund

    Posted Monday, October 01, 2012

    People's Postcode Trust - Dream Fund
    The People's Postcode Trust Dream Fund offers funding for projects which: encourage active living; bring communities together; tackle climate change or expand life opportunities. Projects must be a maximum of 12 months duration. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2012.
    For further details please see

    CSV Local Nature Reserve Awards

    Posted Monday, October 01, 2012

    CSV Local Nature Reserve Awards are available exclusively for volunteer-led projects which take place on Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) Projects must encourage volunteer involvement and bring new volunteers onto the reserve, involving people in recording and learning about wildlife, raising the local profile of the site and protecting and enhancing biodiversity. The closing date for applications is 30 November 2012.
    For more details please see


    Posted Monday, September 24, 2012


    Public footpath signs

    The Prince's Countryside Fund next round of funding opens for applications on Monday 24th September. A new application form and eligibility guidance is available on their website now.

    The Prince’s Countryside Fund gives grants to projects that help support the people who care for the countryside.

    It is supported by a unique collaboration of businesses working together to secure a sustainable future for British agriculture and the wider rural economy.

    The fund seeks to address and tackle five key issues:

    • Rural isolation
    • Decline of rural communities
    • Low farming incomes
    • Lack of access to training
    • Disconnect with the value of the countryside

    To be eligible for a grant you will need to demonstrate that your project is tackling at least one of the five issues.

    Applications for this round of funding will open on Monday 24th September and close at 5pm on Friday 19th October. All applicants will be informed of a decision in December 2012.

     You can get all the information you need, including the new application form, on the Prince's Countryside Fund website.


    Posted Friday, September 14, 2012

    Grid connection, EU policy for islands and the use of marine algae as a fuel source are just some of the issues and developments that will be addressed by a major energy conference taking place on Mull later this month.

    The Scottish Islands Federation's event 'Resilience and Innovation: The Islands Challenge' will take place at Craignure Hall on Friday 21st September. The speakers include those from islands around Europe and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell. Community Energy Scotland will be running two workshops and the panel discussion will be charied by Alyn Smith MEP.

    Chair of SIF, Sandy Brunton, said “This important conference will follow on from the annual meeting of the European Small Islands Network, which we are hosting on Mull the previous day. Delegates will also be able to learn how islanders from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland take advantage of the natural resources available to them. The conference comes at a crucial time when island resilience comes under increasing pressure with power supply companies planning to increase their prices by nearly 10% very soon."

    The conference has been timed to coordinate with ferry times so that day delegates can catch the 07.45 ferry from Oban and return on the 17.00 from Craignure. Islanders wishing to attend must register at, where you can also find further information, or email Camille at as spaces are limited.

    There is no charge for attending the day, due to assistance from Argyll and the Islands LEADER and there are limited bursaries to help with travel costs for those coming from distant islands.

    The Scottish Islands Federation was set up in 2008 to assist island organisations and individuals to express their unique points of views, share their stories and make better representations at local, regional, national and European level, on all issues affecting the sustainability of the Scottish islands.

    Scottish Government rural community support database

    Posted Monday, September 10, 2012

    The Scottish Government’s online rural community support database will be launched shortly. Its purpose is to act as a directory of all the organisations in Scotland that provide information and support to rural community groups about funding and project development. It will allow the user to search for organisations operating locally, in their local authority area, or at a regional or national level. It will provide contact information, a website link and a brief summary of the organisation's purpose and scope. Users will access information through a clickable map user interface and will be able to export and print simple reports.

    The interface for the database will be hosted on the Rural Network website, and SCVO’s Rural Team will have responsibility for maintaining and updating the information.

    Tool Bank or Library? Do you use one?

    Posted Friday, August 17, 2012

    Does anyone use a tool bank to share or borrow garden tools they need?

    A query came in this week about setting up a garden tool bank. We'd like to
    call on the experience and wisdom of the Trellis network and ask if anyone
    has experience of using a tool bank or library to borrow garden tools or
    knows of any in operation?

    How does it work? Where is it based ?

    Or perhaps you'd like to use one? What kind of things would you want to
    borrow /lend?

    Please let us know, email

    Scottish Government’s £228k acts as Energy Catalyst for lower energy bills in South Glasgow

    Posted Monday, August 13, 2012

    Community group South Seeds secures Scottish Government Climate Challenge Funding of £278k for practical programme of energy efficiency and greenspace reclamation. The Scottish Government today announced that the South Glasgow charity South Seeds, has received £228,000 to fund a two year programme of local community action to deliver energy efficiency and local food growing projects in the South Glasgow area. Today, Stewart Stevenson Minister for Environment and Climate Change announced that South Seeds is one of 21 groups across Scotland sharing £2.9 million through the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF). Reuben Chesters, Chair of South Seeds said “We’re delighted that our bid to the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund has been successful. We’ll be using the funding to help people in South Glasgow improve their environment through energy efficiency and improving local greenspaces for local food growing.”
    The South Seeds project is based on practical action, and is focused on working with residents to improve tenements. The Climate Challenge Fund helps communities across Scotland to reduce their carbon footprint, supporting a low carbon lifestyle, and contributing to Scotland reaching its ambitious climate change target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The successful South Glasgow project - South Seeds Energy Catalyst - will see volunteers and staff recruited to deliver practical advice and support to improve energy efficiency in properties in the South Glasgow. South Seeds will encourage tenements to tackle energy efficiency by setting up “Close Troops” in which people work together to cut energy bills in their local close, and work alongside the local community to work together to refurbish and manage green spaces for local food growing.
    Reuben Chesters added: “a lot of energy schemes are targeted at houses, but an important part of our work will be helping tenement residents cut their bills. We’ll be doing this by recruiting a
    volunteer army of ‘Tenement Champions’ who can help us take action to cut energy use and improve the standard of living for tenement residents in south Glasgow.”
    South Seeds will spend the next two years working with local community groups, helping people to cut their energy bills by installing energy efficiency measures and thinking about how they use energy in the home. Over two years South Seeds expects to help the local community save 7,439 tonnes of CO2 which would be enough to fill Hampden Park over three times.

    Business Transport Help

    Posted Monday, August 13, 2012

    Fancy up to £50,000 to make your transport budget go miles further? In this current economic climate every penny counts and with help from Energy Saving Scotland advice centre experts businesses could be on the road to major savings. The impartial specialists can help any organisation save money, and of course cut carbon, by becoming more efficient with transport and travel arrangements.
    Using a FREE sustainable transport review many businesses have already benefitted from an average annual saving of over £7,200 and 12 tonnes of CO2. Working with the organisation, an expert transport advisor will audit the current transport and travel activity before recommending how to save money and carbon, issuing a full report for the company to implement.
    There are also interest-free loans up to £50,000 available (funded by Transport Scotland) with payback terms of up to six years. These can be used to buy items which will reduce transport costs such as electric and plugged-in hybrid vehicles, video and teleconference facilities, cycle and shower facilities, fleet management software and vehicle efficiency devices.
    With many ways to save what are you waiting for? Contact your local Energy Saving Scotland advice centre now on 0800 51 2012 or visit:

    Do you live in Locharber

    Posted Thursday, August 09, 2012

    This is for those who live in Lochaber Susan Carstairs is looking for information from householders on their fuel, electricity and transport in order to complete a scoping study for an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the Lochaber area. This is being done initially for a postgraduate course but hopefully could form a first step for a full greenhouse gas assessment for the area in the future and other carbon projects.

    Please contact Susan directly for a copy of the questionnaire:


    Posted Thursday, August 09, 2012

    Are you based in Scotland and have an idea for a project related to farming or brewing? If so, then the Caledonia Best Seed Fund could be for you!

    Caledonia Best beer launched in October 2011 with a pledge to commit five pence in every pint sold in the first six months to support brewing and farming in Scotland. This year's fund sits at £58,000 and is open for applications until 7th September 2012.

    The Seed Fund will support successful applications with a seed fund grant to support projects that would otherwise have difficulty securing funding at the early stages of their development. The fund is open to individuals and groups and grants will be allocated on merit.

    As well as the seed funding grant, successful applications will benefit from mentorship from Tennent Caledonian, one of Scotland's most successful and historic brewers.

    Decisions will be made by the Seed Fund advisory board which includes representatives from Tennent Caledonian, the National Union of Farmers Scotland, the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling Heriot-Watt and Simpsons Malts.

    You can find out more, and get an application form, on the Caledonia Best website Applications should then be sent to

    Keeping cool at Belladrum

    Posted Monday, August 06, 2012

    People queued up to take the HEN water taste challenge at the HEN marquee. Bottled water is not a green option and visitors to the HEN marquee were offered 4 different water samples to taste. The samples included local tap water, 2 well known bottled brands and a supermarket brand. Over 300 people took part in the challenge and less than 1/3 could tell the difference between tap and bottled water! Only 5 people actually managed to get all 4 samples correct!

    People were really interested in the experiment and were even coming back the next day to find out the results. If you were one of the people that took part in the water taste challenge - A was tap on Friday and C was tap on Saturday.

    So the HEN message is be water wise - drink tap and use a reusable bottle!

    Every Drop Counts - HEN's new water efficiency campaign

    Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Highland Environmental Network (HEN) is preparing to launch its new water efficiency campaign “Every Drop Counts” at Belladrum Music Festival. The aim of the campaign is to make people in the Highlands - water wise. Water is a precious resource that we need to conserve, the average person in Scotland uses 150 litres which is just not sustainable. The Every Drop Counts campaign will provide festival goers with lots of hints and tips to make them more water wise, there will also be information on Green Living by the Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centre.
    Carol Masheter, HEN Development Officer said “The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to take action in their own homes by: reducing showers by 1 minute, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth or reducing the amount of times you flush the loo”.
    As well as live music in the HEN Marquee there will be lots of fun activities for all the family to take part in including: tap v’s bottled water taste challenge, water wise quiz, children’s crafts and water play and prizes to win. There will also be a sculpture on display made out of water bottles; to represent 150 litres that we use per day and to demonstrate the amount of waste generated by bottled water. So if you are going to Belladrum come along to the HEN marquee and Free Range Folk stage in the walled garden were you will be able to enjoy 25 music acts playing traditional Scottish music to Celtic rock.
    Music this year comes from a variety of Highland musicians as well as a small number from out with the Highlands with support from For most musicians it will be there first time to off their talents at Belladrum.


    Posted Monday, July 16, 2012

    Scotland’s Biodiversity strategy is set for a refresh to ensure it meets with new international requirements.

    Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson launched the consultation today during a visit to the Linn of Dee as part of his three day visit to the Cairngorms National Park.

    Following the development of new biodiversity targets at UN and EU level the Scottish Government is committed to refreshing the 2004 Scottish Biodiversity strategy to ensure it meets the new challenges up to 2020.

    The 2020 Challenge aims to:

    Increase the general level of biodiversity on land and in our seas and support healthy, well-functioning ecosystems Engage people with the natural world, for the health and well-being benefits that this brings, and empower them to have a say in decisions about their environment Maximise the benefits for Scotland of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to sustainable economic growth Mr. Stevenson said, "This consultation will set out how we will meet our international obligations to halt biodiversity loss and protect our vital ecosystem services by 2020. The pressures on the natural environment from habitat loss, nutrient enrichment and climate change need urgent action and projects such as this are a great example of managing our land to meet these challenges."

    Jonny Hughes, Director of Conservation at Scottish Wildlife Trust, said, "The Scottish Wildlife Trust has been pleased with the way the Scottish Government has involved and consulted us early on in the development of the new 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity. Scotland's natural environment is a massive cultural and economic asset which has been taken for granted for too long.

    "This new initiative from the Scottish Government recognises that the plethora of hidden benefits which nature provides need to be better understood, valued and managed. These hidden benefits include the food we eat, clean water, flood protection, carbon storage, educational resources, recreation, health and well being and economic vitality."

    Susan Davies, Director of Policy and Advice at SNH, said, "The Scottish Government and SNH have worked closely with many organisations to try and make sure the 2020 Challenge will secure a strong and healthy future for Scotland's nature. Healthy nature is incredibly important to us all - not just for air, water and food, but for business, welfare and economic recovery. We need nature to thrive - as much for us as for nature itself."


    Posted Monday, July 16, 2012

    Rural communities in Scotland can now apply for support to help buy their land, Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson announced today. The new £6 million Scottish Land Fund which will empower communities by helping them acquire land opened for applications on Monday 2nd July.

    The Minister announced the opening date for the fund - which will be delivered by Big Lottery Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise - during a visit to locally owned Crossgates Community Woodland.

    Crossgates was the first community in Scotland to successfully purchase land through the community right to buy provisions in May 2005. It also achieved ownership of the "Taft", a 15 hectare wooded area, through funding from the first Scottish Land Fund which ran from 2001 to 2006.

    Since the successful purchase, Crossgates Community Woodland has secured a number of significant achievements. These have included the planting of over 7,000 trees, the creation of a play park and the creation of around a mile of pathways and tracks.

    Mr Stevenson said, "Crossgates Community Woodland is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a local community, with a clear idea of how best to develop land for the benefit of its community, is supported to buy land.

    "And today is an historic day for community land ownership in Scotland - I'm delighted to announce that our Scottish Land Fund, which will empower rural communities to help them acquire land, is now open for applications. The Scottish Government fully supports community buy-outs and is committed to building strong and resilient communities throughout Scotland.

    "Both Big Lottery Scotland and HIE will ensure the fund makes the best use of existing resources and expertise to maximise the land fund's potential. These are exciting times for Scotland and this fund will help more of our rural areas to take control of their own destinies and build the successful, flourishing communities of tomorrow."

    Neil Ritch, Head of Corporate Management at Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said, "This is a really exciting opportunity to help more communities in rural Scotland own and develop their local land and land assets. We know from our experience delivering the original Scottish Land Fund with our partners at Highlands and Islands Enterprise that communities can achieve great things when they own and manage local land and land assets. I am delighted that we are working in partnership with HIE once more to deliver the new fund.

    "The Scottish Government's new Scottish Land Fund will give communities the tools they need to take greater control of their own futures. We will combine our experience and expertise to give communities practical support in developing their ideas and aspirations and submitting strong applications for funding."

    Welcoming the announcement of the formal launch of the new Scottish Land Fund, David Cameron, Chairman of Community Land Scotland, said, "Today communities can start the process of applying to take more control of their futures. With the knowledge the new Land Fund was coming, a number of communities have expressed interest in taking the bold step to community ownership and make a start to a better future.

    "I believe that such will be the interest, it is likely the demand we always knew was there for a dedicated land fund will out-stretch the available resources. When that moment comes I hope the Scottish Government will respond positively and support building ever more momentum in achieving further land ownership change. Communities which have been liberated from the past ownership pattern have been making real advances, and more communities need a taste of that opportunity and success.

    Potential applicants wishing to apply to the Scottish Land Fund or find out more information should contact BIG Lottery on 0300 123 7110 or email

    Funding News from CCF

    Posted Thursday, July 05, 2012

    If elements of your environmental projects are not eligible for CCF funding but still need resourcing, you may be able to benefit from an Action Earth grant, CARES loan or free insulation.

    Action Earth - If you are planning an environmental activity using volunteers, or think you can come up with a good project that improves your local area, you could be eligible for a CSV Action Eart grant.

    The CSV Action Earth campaign runs from May to November, supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. The 2012 campaign offers grants up to £500 to cover plants, materials, tools and expenses and can make a big difference to an event.

    1. CSV Action Earth Awards are grants of £250 for projects who are providing or improving habitats for wildlife, enhancing local nature spots and getting communities volunteering together.
    2. CSV Local Nature Reserve Awards of up to £500 are available exclusively for projects taking place on Local Nature Reserves (LNR).

    If you wish to discuss project ideas or discuss any issues relating to the campaign, please contact Robert Henderson on 0131 222 9083 or

    CARES - Communities and rural businesses all over Scotland can now apply to a £23.5 million government loan scheme to help them get community energy renewable projects up to the planning stage.

    The Community and Renewable Energy Loan Scheme (CARES) is designed to support projects before they reach planning as this stage is considered too high risk for commercial loans. Communities and rural businesses all over Scotland have already benefited from the loans, which are designed to help small-scale projects which directly benefit their local area, and which would not proceed without the loan.

    Individual projects can receive loans of up to £150,000 to cover 95% of agreed costs. Free local advice and support is also available.
    Organisations wishing to apply for a loan should contact Community Energy Scotland at

    Free insulation - The Scottish Government currently funds free home insulation in many areas of the country through the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre network, in partnership with Scottish Local Authorities. Householders in South East Scotland are among those getting free insulation to help stay warm and cut energy costs, along with many other local authority regions.

    The scheme offers free loft insulation, including ‘top-up’ insulation, and cavity wall insulation to all properties in Edinburgh, Fife, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders. It's not means-tested in any way; the only condition is that the property must be suitable for the type of insulation available. This is determined by a free no-obligation survey by an installer. Households living in other areas can also access free or discounted loft insulation and cavity wall insulation by calling their local advice centre free on 0800 512 012.

    To find out more please read

    Evaluating Your Gardening Project Training

    Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012

    Evaluating your therapeutic gardening project is one of the key ways of providing evidence to funders and commissioning and referral bodies such as NHS, GP's and activity referral schemes.
    Trellis is proposing to run a training day on this subject. Focusing on soft outcomes (e.g. outcomes from training, support or guidance interventions such as increased confidence or better time management which, unlike hard outcomes such as qualifications and jobs, are likely to describe an individual’s journey), pros & cons of various methods and practical exercises, the aim is to leave with an evaluation plan for your project.
    This would take place in Autumn / Winter 2012 and the approximate cost will be £60 for the day. Please contact us if you are interested and if we have sufficient interest, we can go ahead. Contact Jenny at or phone Trellis on 01738 624348
    For general information and resources on evaluating your project see

    National Spring Clean 2012 was a great success!

    Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012

    Thank you for helping to tackle the blight of litter in Scotland by promoting National Spring Clean 2012. Thanks to the support of a myriad of charities, businesses and organisations such as yourselves the campaign reached far and wide, engaging almost 120,000 Scots from Shetland to the Scottish Borders.

    Around 1,100 tonnes of litter were removed from across Scotland in what we estimate is the largest mobilisation of the Scottish public since World War Two.

    We’d love your support in promoting the campaign next year and will be working hard in the meantime through education and enforcement to help ensure that our beautiful country remains clean.

    If you, or anyone else would like to take part in a Clean Up before next year’s campaign we can supply FREE clean up kits, these can be ordered from:

    Seasonal Eating Campaign

    Posted Saturday, June 30, 2012

    Some of Scotland's top chefs are backing the Scottish Government's seasonal eating campaign and have dished up a series of recipes for an Eat in Season recipe finder.

    Top chefs including Nick Nairn, Roy Brett, Albert Roux, Tom Kitchin, Graeme Pallister and Donald Munro are among those who have provided recipes for the recipe finder app which has been launched as part of the wider Eat in Season campaign.

    During the launch at the Royal Highland Show last week, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead was joined by Mr Nairn, Mr Brett and Mr Munro to demonstrate how tasty, quick and easy cooking with seasonal produce can be. The campaign aims to increase awareness about what food is in season and persuade people to eat more seasonal produce.

    Speaking at the launch, Mr Lochhead said, "Fresh, in season food is tastier and can often be cheaper as well as healthier. In Scotland, we're blessed with a fine natural larder on our doorstep and eating seasonal food means we can enjoy it at its absolute best.

    "It's great that so many of Scotland's top chefs are backing our campaign because as they've shown me here today, it's easy to whip up a tasty meal using seasonal produce in next to no time."

    Celebrity chef and Michelin star winner, Nick Nairn, said, "We all know we should be eating in season, but most of us don't know what's in season when. We need a reliable source of information to find the best produce at the best time of year. People can use this free app to help plan what they should be eating."

    The Eat in Season app will allow people to search through over 230 recipes that use seasonal ingredients and is also linked to the Love Food Hate Waste recipe tool to help use up leftovers.

    Evaluation of last year's campaign showed:

    98 percent of people were motivated to buy or eat in-season food
    Morrisons saw a 42 percent increase in the sale of seasonal foods that were featured as ingredients on recipe cards distributed in-store
    85 percent of those surveyed said the campaign helped motivate them to think about which foods they choose and when
    82 percent agreed the campaign told them something new
    This year's Eat in Season campaign will run until 3rd August and will feature press adverts alongside promotional marketing events at supermarkets across the country.


    Posted Saturday, June 30, 2012

    Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson today announced that the new Scottish Land Fund will open for applications on Monday 2nd July. The £6 million fund will empower communities by helping them acquire land, and will be delivered by Big Lottery Fund Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

    Mr Stevenson made the announcement during a visit to Crossgates Community Woodland. The community was the first in Scotland to successfully purchase land through the community right to buy provisions in May 2005. It also achieved ownership of the “Taft”, a 15 hectare wooded area, through funding from the first Scottish Land Fund which ran from 2001 to 2006.

    Since the successful purchase, the community have secured significant achievements including the planting of over 7,000 trees, the creation of a play park and around a mile of pathways and tracks.

    Mr Stevenson said, "Crossgates Community Woodland is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a local community, with a clear idea of how best to develop land for the benefit of its community, is supported to buy land.

    "And today is an historic day for community land ownership in Scotland - I'm delighted to announce that our Scottish Land Fund, which will empower rural communities to help them acquire land, is now open for applications.

    "The Scottish Government fully supports community buy-outs and is committed to building strong and resilient communities throughout Scotland.

    "Both Big Lottery Fund Scotland and HIE will ensure the fund makes the best use of existing resources and expertise to maximise the land fund’s potential.

    "These are exciting times for Scotland and this fund will help more of our rural areas to take control of their own destinies and build the successful, flourishing communities of tomorrow."

    Neil Ritch, Head of Corporate Management, Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said, "This is a really exciting opportunity to help more communities in rural Scotland own and develop their local land and land assets. We know from our experience delivering the original Scottish Land Fund with our partners at Highlands and Islands Enterprise that communities can achieve great things when they own and manage local land and land assets. I am delighted that we are working in partnership with HIE once more to deliver the new fund.

    "The Scottish Government’s new Scottish Land Fund will give communities the tools they need to take greater control of their own futures. We will combine our experience and expertise to give communities practical support in developing their ideas and aspirations and submitting strong applications for funding."

    Sandra Holmes, Head of Community Assets at HIE, said, "HIE is delighted to be involved in the delivery of this next chapter in the history of community land and asset ownership in Scotland. Over the past 20 years we have seen the benefits that ownership of assets brings to our communities. Community buy-outs are no longer experimental projects but an effective and proven rural regeneration model.

    "Around 500,000 acres of land are now in community ownership in Scotland – more than the John Muir Trust, the RSPB and the National Trust for Scotland combined. The new Scottish Land Fund will enable us to maintain the momentum and enable communities throughout Scotland to invest in a sustainable future."

    The Scottish Land Fund will make available £6 million over the next three financial years – 2012/13 to 2014/15.

    Potential applicants should call the enquiries line at BIG Lottery 0300 123 7110 or email

    Construction to begin at 10 megawatt Community Windfarm at Corrimony

    Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

    A Highland community charity has completed the final stages of fundraising as construction begins on a 10megawatt windfarm at Corrimony, between Glen Urquhart and Strathglass, near Inverness.
    Soirbheas Ltd, a community charity representing the communities of Glen Urquhart and Strathglass, has partnered with Corrimony Energy, a local family-owned company, which is to build and manage the Corrimony windfarm. The windfarm is set to be operational early next year.

    The charity has an economic interest equivalent to one of the five turbines on site, which will not only provide clean electricity but will also generate long term income for the local communities the charity serves. These communities will receive a fifth of the annual cash-flowgenerated by the windfarm. The income will be used to benefit the communities directly via investment into schemes that aim to, for example, reduce fuel poverty, support economic growth and community resilience, tackle environmental issues through green projects, and look after vulnerable members of the communities.

    Debt funding for the construction of the windfarm has been provided by the Co-operative Bank and a £500,000 investment from Social Investment Scotland, via the Scottish Investment Fund. As a result of its involvement, it is hoped that Soirbheas will receive income of in excess of £1 million over the first ten years of operation, with the potential for at least as much again during the balance of the windfarm’s expected life.

    The windfarm site is on Corrimony Farm at the head of Glen Urquhart and is far enough away from neighbouring properties to ensure minimal visual impact. Electricity will connect to the National Grid at Fasnakyle Power Station in Strathglass and will contribute to Scotland’s national targets for green energy.
    Soirbheas was formed in 2009, specifically to take forward the Girvan Family’s proposal that the communities should have a meaningful interest in thewindfarm they proposed to develop. The board of directors are all local to the communities represented by Soirbheas and share a common vision of earning revenue from a renewable energy resource to ensure the wider community flourishes and the area becomesmore resilient and attractive as a place to live and work.
    Tanya Castell, chair of Soirbheas, said: “That this project is so close to completion, with only construction of the windfarm to go, is a great testament to many people, not least the Girvan family for their inspiring community spirit but also to the volunteers who have helped Soirbheas and of course to the various bodies who have provided vital funds to allow us to reach this point, SIS foremost (along with the Big Lottery Fund, Community Energy Scotland and Highland Council).

    “This project, which is set to earn our communitiesa valuable revenue stream over the next two decades, will allow us to make a positive impact on climate change by harnessing natural local resources and using them to directly benefit the whole community,deliveringsignificant opportunities for social and economic benefit.”

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I am delighted construction is about to begin on the Soirbheas community windfarm. The Scottish Government is determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy.

    “Scotland is leading the way across the UK in how we support local and community ownership of renewable energy. We have set a target of 500 MW of community and locally owned renewable energy projects by 2020, which could be worth up to £2.4 billion to Scottish communities and rural businesses over the lifetime of those projects.”

    Alastair Davis, chief executive of Social Investment Scotland, said: “Soirbheas has had a strong vision for community resilience since it was formed in 2009.

    “Its dedication to transforming the lives of the local community must be commended and the proceeds from this windfarm will be extremely important in both securing the future of the region whilst contributing towards the Government’s objectives for renewable energy. We look forward to working with Soirbheas in future and are delighted that we can play a part in helping to build the capacity of the local community.”

    ENDS. ##


    Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

    2013 has been designated by Government as the Year of Natural Scotland. VisitScotland/EventScotland in close association with the Scottish Government, SNH and many other nature based bodies are developing a programme of events and features that will bring Scotland's natural heritage to the attention of visitors and the Scottish population in a coordinated manner in a way never seen before.

    The objectives for the year, in summary, are to create economic benefit, enhance Scotland's reputation, increase awareness, inspire people and visitors to participate and increase joint working amongst busineses and organisations across Scotland.

    A steering committee has been created to coordinate the development of the programme for the year and significant activity is already being developed by SNH, NTS, HS the two National Parks, Creative Scotland, FC, Wild Scotland and Scotland Food and Drink. That's fine but the organisers are keen to know about and feature as many nature based facilities, events and activities as possible. They don't need to be new or even specially happening for 2013, they just need to be of potential interest to visitors or local people.

    Job Opportunity for Development Worker with Aigas Community Forest

    Posted Friday, June 22, 2012

    Aigas Community Forest (ACF) is seeking a self employed Development Worker to help bring about the community purchase or lease of Aigas Forest from Forestry Commission Scotland, through the National Forest Land Scheme.

    The applicants should have experience of, and a track record of success in, securing grant and trust funding, project management, social enterprise, working with communities and the ability to manage financial projections/business plans. They should also have excellent communication skills and be able to represent the organisation externally to funders and other stakeholders. Knowledge of forestry and associated sectors is an advantage but not essential. Experience of community land purchase is also desirable but not essential.

    This contract is for an eight-month period from August 2012 part time. For further information see the Jobs section or visit ‘Documents’ section on or contact Andrew Leaver, Secretary, Aigas Community Forest, North View, Aigas, Beauly, Inverness-shire, IV4 7AD or email call 07796 225728 or 01463 782597

    Make savings with the Carbon Management Programme for Private Sector

    Posted Monday, June 11, 2012

    Carbon Trust Scotland will be launching two Carbon Management programmes for SME’s in June with the choice of attending a launch workshop in either Glasgow (25th June) or Inverness (27th June).

    Although it costs around £3,000 to take a company through the programme we are currently offering places to a limited number of businesses this year for £500.

    Summary information from the first two programmes show the 20 businesses involved collectively identified potential annual cost savings of £1.2m.

    In addition, being among the first SMEs in the UK to develop a Carbon Management Plan will bring significant ‘green marketing’ opportunities to these businesses, which include such leading names as: Wm Tracey Group, Soapworks, Hebridean Seaweed, Nairns Oatcakes, Harris Tweed Hebrides and Abhainn Dearg Distilleries.

    Further information and flyer for the programme can be found at:

    Wanted - Community Cycle Trainers

    Posted Friday, June 08, 2012

    Do you love cycling? Then this might be just the opportunity for you to share your passion!

    Transition Black Isle can offer a 4 day Cycle Leader Training Course, insurance, support, resources and £8/£10 per hour in exchange for around 80 hrs work per year. We currently need Trainers in Muir of Ord, North Kessock and Fortrose. Once trained you will be required to organise and deliver events for kids and/or adults in your community such as group bike rides and bike maintenance sessions.

    You would be part of the TBI Transport team helping to deliver the Million Miles Project to reduce car travel in your area and improve access to more sustainable transport options for all.
    For more details and an application form contact:
    07715 663781
    Application deadline 14th June 2012

    Learn more about the PVG Scheme

    Posted Monday, May 28, 2012

    Would you like to learn more about the PVG scheme and how it affects your organisation? Do staff members / volunteers require training to facilitate a verifier / signatory for the PVG Scheme?

    Signpost have two courses available (please find attached details). These will be held in the training room at Signpost – 2nd Floor, Highland Rail House, Station Square, Inverness – on the 28th June 2012. The cost of the two courses together would be £25 (£20 to members), including buffet lunch. Attendance at either the morning or afternoon session only would cost £15 (£12 to members).

    For bookings or further information contact

    Community Travel Grant

    Posted Monday, May 28, 2012

    Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Buchan Countryside Group have joined forces to help community and other groups of all abilities enjoy Scotland's wonderful nature.

    With outdoor activity recognised as being beneficial for mental and physical wellbeing, unfortunately the outdoors are not easily accessible for everyone. By offering 50 percent travel grants, SNH hope to offer support to those who aren't fully independant such as the elderly, those with disabilities or long-term illness. It is hoped that those taking advantage of the grants will gain the confidence to then go on and explore the outdoors on their own.

    The grant scheme is open to groups operating in Moray, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and the Cairngorms National Park, with visits to places such as nature reserves, wildlife centres and country parks all elligible for the funding.

    Further information and application details are available from the Buchan Countryside Group website

    Big Lottery Information Session on 31st May in Inverness

    Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012


    The Big Lottery Fund are holding an information event on 31st May 2012 at Town Hall, Inverness.
    There will be two sessions: the first runs from 10am – 12.30pm and the second from 1.30pm – 4.00pm. Tea & Coffee will be available. To book a place or for further info call 0141 2421400.

    2014 Communities
    • From £300 to £2k for grassroots sports projects
    • Eligible organisations include community sports clubs, voluntary groups, schools and community councils
    • Funding aims to encourage more people to take part or volunteer in sport or physical activity
    More information:-

    Awards for All
    • From £500 to £10k for wide range of community, arts, sports, heritage, health, education and environmental projects
    • For example, putting on an event, activity or performance; buying new equipment or materials; running training courses, conferences or seminars; setting up a pilot project; carrying out special repairs or conservation work; paying volunteer expenses, costs for sessional workers or professional fees; carrying out feasibility studies; transport costs
    • Range of not-for-profit groups eligible to apply including community and voluntary groups and schools
    More information:

    Coastal Communities Fund
    • Grants programme run by Big Lottery Fund (BIG) on behalf of the UK government
    • Deadline for the first round of applications is past but the fund will be available again in 2013 and 2014
    • Designed to support the economic development of coastal communities by promoting sustainable economic growth and creating jobs that are sustainable in the longer term
    • There is no restriction on communities in terms of population size
    • Grants in excess of £50k
    • Wide range of organisations eligible to apply including local authorities, voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, development agencies
    • All applications must meet the outcome that coastal communities are better able to use their assets (physical, natural, social, economic and cultural) to promote sustainable economic growth and jobs;
    • They must also meet at least one of the following outcomes:-
    • Coastal Communities have greater capacity to create a sustainable economic future and are better equipped to adapt to change;
    • Partnerships are developed to support economic innovation, enterprise and investment either within a community and/ or across a number of coastal communities;
    • People have more opportunities for training and skills development, including volunteering.
    More information:

    Communities and Families Fund
    • Grants programme funded jointly by the Scottish Government and BIG
    • Grants of between £250 and £10k for projects that benefit children - or parents and families of children - who are aged 8 and under
    • Eligible applicantsinclude voluntary and community groups, statutory bodies, community councils (ineligible organisations include schools, profit-making organisations, non departmental public bodies)
    • Must meet at least one of following outcomes
    • Improve the quality of life of children (pre-birth to 8) through greater access to early learning, play and child and maternal health support
    • Enable communities shape and deliver support for families.
    • Examples of the types of projects that could be supported include:- parenting support and development; community play; better nutrition for young children; community-based family support and childcare
    More information:

    Community Spaces Scotland
    • Programme aims to bring communities together around a space or place that matters to them, for example, a park or community garden, an outdoor play area, an allotment, a village hall or a community centre.
    • From £10k to £250k but anticipated average will be around £100k
    • Mainly for capital works although revenue funding may be provided for projects that meet the outcomes of the programme, for example, for green gyms.
    • Funding targeted to specific areas of Scotland – parts but not all areas of Highland
    • Range of not-for-profit groups eligible to apply including community councils, voluntary groups and schools (local authorities are not eligible)
    • Final application round opens on 14th June 2012
    More information:

    Growing Community Assets
    • Aims to help communities have more control and influence over their own future through the ownership of physical assets such as land, buildings or equipment, but may also include other types of asset such as energy
    • Projects must meet all four outcomes for the programme. These are that communities - work together; become more sustainable and improve their economic, environmental and social future; develop skills and knowledge; overcome disadvantage and inequality – through the ownership and development of local assets.
    • £10k to £1m
    • Range of not-for-profit groups eligible including social enterprises, voluntary and community groups. (local authorities - including schools - are not eligible)
    More information: -

    Heroes Return 2
    • For World War II veterans who saw active service and are resident in the UK/ Republic of Ireland
    • For commemorative visits (within the UK and overseas) to mark the anniversary of events that led to the end of WWII
    • Fixed amount grants of between £150 and £5.5k depending on the number of people taking part and the destination
    More information:

    Investing in Ideas
    • To develop ideas that have a clear public benefit and help to turn good ideas into well planned projects
    • Grants of £500 to £10k
    • For example, market research; feasibility studies; business planning; exchange visits in the UK to see how other projects work; community consultation; professional advice; technical reports; scheme design studies
    • Eligible applicants include voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, local authorities and health bodies, community councils
    More information:®ioncode=-sco

    Life Transitions
    • Aims to support people at key times of change and help them make their lives better particularly projects that reach people most in need and those who are least likely to receive support
    • Expects to fund a wide range of activities and services such as projects that offer supported employment; encourage mentoring, befriending and peer support; build financial literacy, financial capability and financial inclusion, or develop basic and softer skills such as communication skills
    • Range of not-for-profit groups eligible including social enterprises, voluntary and community groups, local authorities
    • £10k to £1m
    More information:

    Supporting 21st Century Life
    • Aims to improve the quality of family life by helping families most in need to deal with the challenges of family life, intervening early to prevent poverty and disadvantage and give children a better chance in life.
    • Expects to fund wide range of activities and services such as parenting and family support; tailored advice and support to help people access services; projects that encourage mentoring, befriending and peer support; activities, such as play, volunteering and outdoor experiences.
    • Range of not-for-profit groups eligible including social enterprises, voluntary and community groups, local authorities
    • £10k to £1m
    More information:®ioncode=-uk

    Village SOS
    • Aims to contribute to rural revival by supporting inspiring community business ideas that bring communities together to tackle the challenges they face.
    • Projects must be based in communities with a population of 3,000 people or less
    • Grants from £10k to £50k (unable to contribute to projects costing more than £100k)
    • Examples of the types of projects that funding might be available for includes village shops, community transport schemes, tearooms, woodland projects, broadband, energy schemes
    • Eligible applicants include social enterprises, voluntary and community groups, community councils
    • Final deadline date for applications 12th September 2012 but applications can be submitted and assessed before then.
    More information:

    Young Start
    • Grants programme run by BIG on behalf of government to distribute money from dormant bank and building society accounts
    • Grants from £10k to £50k
    • For voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises, housing associations, sports organisations, co-operatives and charities(schools and statutory bodies are not eligible to apply)
    • For projects that create opportunities and help young people aged between 8 and 24 realise their potential.
    • Projects must meet one or more of four outcomes and some examples of the type of projects can could be supported are provided below.
    • Confident - young people have more confidence and skills e.g. using local artists in a creative arts’ project to improve confidence; providing peer support such as buddies and mentors
    • Healthy - young people have better physical, mental and emotional health e.g. youth workers providing support to young people with mental health issues; getting young people involved in sport through the use of local sports facilities.
    • Connected - younger and older generations are better connected and have more understanding and respect for each other e.g older people teaching young people about the history of their area or skills such as cooking and gardening; young people teaching older people how to use technology and try new activities such as using the internet, social networking and gaming.
    • Enterprising - young people are better prepared for getting a job or starting a business e.g. work experience tasters with local employers; volunteering placements with local social enterprises.
    • Open application process
    More information:

    Have a WEEE Spring Clean

    Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Alness based charity and social enterprise, ILM Highland, is encouraging local businesses to clear their WEEE from the Highlands. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment – known as WEEE, is one of the fastest growing waste streams in Europe. In the UK alone, we throw away around 2 million tonnes of WEEE every year; much of which ends up in landfill. The European WEEE Directive came into force in 2007, which made it illegal for businesses to dispose of their electrical waste into landfill.

    ILM already deals with over 2,000 tonnes of domestic electrical waste each year from across the Highlands. Where possible, these items are refurbished and sold at very reasonable prices in ILM’s shop so that they may be reused. All profits made by ILM Highland are ploughed back into the organisation to provide vital services to often vulnerable and disadvantaged Highland residents. As a fully authorised treatment facility, ILM Highland has almost 10 years experience in the recycling and processing of electrical waste. ILM can provide local businesses with a professional, confidential and legitimate route to deal with all types of WEEE; whilst providing the necessary compliance certification and paperwork.

    In addition to helping the environment and complying with the WEEE Directive which is law; local businesses will also be directly supporting local jobs and local enterprise in the Scottish Highlands. There are also positive benefits for the local businesses themselves, as clearing away their electrical waste may help businesses increase their revenue by expanding their operations through hiring more staff, or renting out office space previously clogged with old equipment; or by staff becoming more productive as the office is cleared bringing increased morale and better working environments.

    Kenny Horsfield, the WEEE Manager for ILM Highland, says: “There really isn’t any need for businesses to hold onto their old waste electrical equipment. ILM can offer businesses a fast and easy solution, which takes away all the worry and stress about what to do with their computers for example that may contain sensitive data, etc. We are fully authorised to provide confidential data wiping or destruction services. We can also collect any WEEE directly from businesses, or they can drop their waste items off at our Designated Collection Facility in Alness…which ever is easiest. Dealing directly with ILM Highland cuts out the middleman which will save companies money”.

    Businesses across the Highlands now have a secure, legal and simple solution to get rid of their electrical waste once and for all – helping not only their staff and their business, but also supporting local enterprise, local jobs and the wider environment of the Scottish Highlands and their communities.

    CSV Action Earth grants

    Posted Monday, May 21, 2012

    If you are planning an environmental activity using volunteers or think you can come up with a good project that improves your local area, then you could be eligible for a CSV Action Earth grant.

    The CSV Action Earth campaign is running from May to November, supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The 2012 campaign offers grants up to £500 to cover plants, materials, tools and expenses and can make a big difference to an event.

    CSV Action Earth Awards are grants of £250 for projects who are providing or improving habitats for wildlife, enhancing local nature spots and getting communities volunteering together
    CSV Local Nature Reserve Awards of up to £500 are available exclusively for projects taking place on Local Nature Reserves (LNR)
    Last year, CSV Action Earth volunteers were involved in tasks such as improving woodlands by planting and clearing, turning derelict wasteland into bee-friendly wildflower meadows, creating ponds and footpaths, building bird and bat boxes, tagging sharks and a whole range of other environmental activities.

    We are keen to help projects and groups attract new volunteers to their work. Grants will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, so please register quickly. Projects can apply now. You can apply online, download forms or get more information at

    If you wish to discuss project ideas or discuss any issues relating to the campaign, please contact Robert Henderson on 0131 222 9083 or email:

    Get involved and help make a difference to your local environment!

    Highlands and Island Woodfuel Group

    Posted Friday, May 18, 2012

    THE Cairngorms National Park is to host a groundbreaking gathering of players in one of the north’s fastest growing green industries.

    The second meeting of the fledgeling Highlands and Islands Woodfuel Group takes place in the Duke of Gordon Hotel in Kingussie on Thursday 31 May.

    At an inaugural gathering in February, more than 50 woodland managers, forestry contractors, researchers, stove and boiler installers and suppliers of pellets, woodchips and logs gave a resounding thumbs up to proposals for a new regional forum to represent the sector.

    Now stakeholders are being invited to come and formally establish the new group.

    “Woodfuel offers great scope for people to have a bigger stake in their own local energy supplies,” said event organiser Amanda Calvert of woodland charity Highland Birchwoods.

    “We’re keen for all those involved in this dynamic and exciting sector to get involved in shaping productive and co-operative ways of working together. This will help ensure the industry thrives and grows, bringing jobs to the area and boosting the local economy.

    “Among the topics on the agenda for the day are business development and financing installations and there will be an opportunity to see a working commercial woodfuel boiler in action at the venue, the Duke of Gordon Hotel.”

    The meeting is being funded by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) which has played a pioneering role in supporting and developing the woodfuel industry in the Park. Land management officer Penny Lawson said: “The Cairngoms National Park Authority is delighted to support the blossoming Highlands and Islands Woodfuel Group by hosting its second meeting at Kingussie within the bounds of the National Park.

    “We hope the event will appeal to the many local woodfuel producers, users and others involved in the industry, as well as those from the wider Highlands. The meeting offers a valuable learning and networking opportunity on our door step, one not to be missed.’

    Ian Ross, chair of the CNPA’s woodfuel steering group added: “There is a significant wood fuel resource within the National Park Area and this can make a major contribution to fuel choice and cost for homes and businesses both within and out with the Park.

    “It also allows woodlands to brought back into management which is sympathetic to the nature conservation and biodiversity commitments of the National Park. Wood fuel can be an increasingly important contributor to the sustainable rural economy of this important part of Scotland.”

    For further information or to get involved in the group contact Amanda Calvert phone: 01463811606

    Make this the year you volunteer!

    Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012

    The National Trust for Scotland has set up a NEW Highland Conservation Volunteer Group based in Inverness. If you’re 18 or over, reasonably fit, and enjoy the outdoors then we'd love to hear from you!

    Becoming a Conservation Volunteer (CV) would give you the opportunity to:

    Learn new skills such as drystane dyking, footpath construction and woodland management;
    Work in the stunning countryside and beautiful gardens throughout the Highlands;
    Meet new people, enjoy some fresh air and exercise, and become actively involved in conservation and the Trust;
    Attend training courses and lectures to enhance your understanding of countryside skills and conservation issues.
    The Group will have its base in Inverness, but if you live near to one of our Highland Properties you're still very welcome to join in when the Group attends a weekend project near you. You'd simply have to make your own way to the property.

    For further information and to download a copy of our events programme, visit or contact Julie Bond, Conservation Volunteer Co-ordinator by email at or by calling 0844 493 2589 (Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays).

    We look forward to welcoming you to the Group!


    Posted Friday, May 11, 2012

    THE potential for planting and managing farm woods for domestic and commercial fuel is to be explored at a free event in Dingwall next week.

    Until the 20th century, home grown firewood was the most common source of fuel used by farmers for heating and cooking. As oil ushered in a new era of convenience, the use of wood declined, and on many farms trees were removed, or left unmanaged.

    Now soaring prices of high carbon fuels such as coal and kerosene and huge advances in wood burning technology are causing a steep rise in demand for woodfuel. Sales of wood burning stoves have rocketed and firewood merchants across the country are struggling to keep up with the explosion in demand for logs to fuel them.

    As the drive to cut carbon emissions gathers pace and oil prices rise, biomass boilers are rapidly gaining recognition as a practical, efficient way of heating homes and businesses.

    Dan Gates, from the wood heating specialists Uaine Limited, will be the keynote speaker at the free seminar at Dingwall Auction Mart from 6 - 9pm on Thursday 17 May. The event has been organised by Black Isle charity Highland Birchwoods as part of Use Greenheat, an EU funded project promoting renewable energy.

    Mr Gates draws on extensive work with the biomass and agricultural sector in asserting that the time is ripe for bringing farm woods into management for fuel. “Two to three hectares of well managed woodland would be enough for a medium to large farmhouse with a 25 - 50 kilowatt boiler to be entirely self sufficient in fuel,” he explained.

    “With the new and rapidly expanding market for woodfuel, and uncertainty over the future affordability of fossil fuel heating, the economic case for farmers to diversify into growing trees for firewood, both for home use and to sell locally, is getting stronger all the time.”

    Support is available to help finance forestry projects and biomass boilers, and to help with marketing woodfuel. The Scotland Rural Development Programme can fund boilers and specialist processing equipment, and encourages the creation of new woodlands with grants that will contribute to the cost of their establishment. Automated log, chip and pellet boilers are eligible for payments under the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Inventive(RHI), a cash back scheme for heat similar to the feed in tariff for solar or wind.

    According to Mr Gates, keeping supply chains short and sticking to local markets when diversifying into woodfuel makes both economic and environmental sense.

    “If you add the cost of haulage to processing costs, it is hard to make the figures add up. However, producing fuel for domestic use can dramatically cut energy bills, and supplying local householders and businesses can be a profitable sideline. Overheads can be reduced by collaborating with other woodfuel producers and through sharing equipment and setting up local machinery rings. These so called farmer or forest cooperatives are very common in Scandinavia and Highland Birchwoods has done work on business cases in the Scottish context.”

    Questions have been raised as to how ‘environmentally friendly’ woodfuel really is.

    “Essentially, a tree absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide when it is growing as is released when it is burned,” Mr Gates explained. “The emissions in the process come from the fuel used for processing and diesel used for transporting logs or woodchips.

    “Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil releases carbon stored underground millions of years ago. Greenhouse gases are released through the refining, transportation and burning of oil, coal and gas. The emissions from biomass are well under 10% of those from fossil fuel.”

    Mr Gates is keen to stress the strategic opportunities for farmers to work partnership within the energy sector. “This may be forming a joint venture with a boiler supplier to heat say a local school or town swimming pool,” he said. “Alternatively larger forestry contracting companies will take an option on the woodland.

    “Perhaps the best example is Deeside Woodland Products (DWP) Harvesting in the North East. They share costs of production among 36 members and supply woodchips to local heat users on a ‘heat’ contract. This gives better value than selling to big users who typically are further away - it costs more in transport to deliver wood products to that market.”

    A Forestry Commission Scotland spokesman said: "For farmers, developing their own woodfuel supply from under managed woodlands could be very beneficial. Trees can turn an unproductive area of land to a productive one. Developing their own woodfuel supply can be an opportunity for farmers to both to save money in fuel costs and to develop a new income stream from sales of woodfuel."

    Contact Amanda Calvert at Highland Birchwoods on 08000 285858 to find out more and reserve a place. Complimentary refreshments will be available on the night.

    BTCV announce new name - The Conservation Volunteers

    Posted Thursday, May 03, 2012

    BTCV has been working for over 50 years to help local people reclaim green places. From May 1st, we will have a different way of introducing ourselves.

    Right now, with cuts in public expenditure, and one third of the UK's natural assets in danger of being lost or degraded, our work is more important than ever.

    We are delighted to have the involvement of 2,000 community groups in our Community Network. And to have hundreds of thousands of volunteers involved in our own environmental projects. But we think that all those people deserve better recognition and support for their vital work.

    For a long time, people have had difficulty with our name. The full name "British Trust for Conservation Volunteers" is long winded and complicated. And the initials, "BTCV", are easily muddled up. We need to simplify the way in which we introduce ourselves, so that people can understand and remember who we are.

    From May 1st, we will introduce ourselves simply as "The Conservation Volunteers". Please visit our new website at , where you can see a short film explaining why we have made the change, and a copy of Roots, our supporters magazine, which has some great news about the fantastic work being carried out by conservation volunteers all over the country.

    People have always been at the heart of The Conservation Volunteers. It is the dedication and effort of volunteers and communities that helps to protect green places and make them special. It is the goodwill of landowners and partner organisations that helps to mobilise and focus volunteer effort. And it is the support of funders that has helped us to keep going for over half a century.

    Thank you all for being part of the BTCV story over the last fifty years. And thank you for your continuing involvement with The Conservation Volunteers.
    The changeover will be scheduled according to a national timetable. So locally, you may not see an immediate difference in terms of our minibus, or office signage. But we will let you know when those things are about to change.


    Posted Monday, April 30, 2012

    The Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee has today published a letter on reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Concerns raised include the need for Scotland to get a fair share of CAP funds, and for the European Commission to be honest about the timetable for reform.

    Following a comprehensive programme of evidence sessions, the Committee has outlined the following issues:

    Scotland must get a fairer share of both direct support funds (pillar one) and rural development funds (pillar two) within the EU and UK. Scotland currently receives the lowest share of rural development (pillar two) funds across the whole of Europe
    The Committee does not agree that the phasing out of direct payments to farmers is in the interests of Scottish Agriculture. The Committee considers that these payments provide a life line to Scottish farmers and crofters and should be continued
    The timetable of the new CAP is scheduled for 2014 however the Committee is calling for urgent clarification on whether this is achievable and what the interim proposals would be
    The Committee welcomes the inclusion of a ’Scottish clause’ to tackle the issue of ‘slipper farmers’, that is farmers receiving subsidy payments for land that is not farmed. However, it must reflect Scotland’s diverse land, taking into account farming which could include grazing of heather not just grass; and not exclude those such as crofters from accessing funding
    The greening proposals need a significant amount of revision before they will be considered workable by the farming community
    Committee Convener, Rob Gibson MSP said, “The Common Agricultural Policy affects thousands of Scottish farmers and crofters along with the communities they support, so it’s vital the Commission get this right. In our letter, the Committee has expressed concern over the proposed reform of this policy.

    “Reform was meant to deliver a better deal for Scottish farmers. However, our Committee is clear that these proposals do not deliver progress or give Scotland its fair share of CAP funding. If we do not learn the lessons of the past we put at risk the future of Scottish farming.

    “We are also calling on the Commission to urgently clarify its timetable for reform. It is clear that the farming community do not have faith that this can be delivered by 2014. The Commission needs to come clean and be honest with Scottish farmers on a realistic timetable."

    Commenting on the report, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said, "It’s critical that we get a fair deal for Scotland’s farmers in Europe and I welcome the support shown by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee in this report.

    "When it comes to CAP reform, the devil is in the detail but it's reassuring that the committee's views largely reflect our position.

    "As the committee acknowledges, Scotland currently receives the lowest level of Single Farm Payment and rural development funding in the UK and amongst the lowest in Europe. This must be addressed in the current reform process and this is a priority for the Scottish Government.

    "This week I’ve attended the European Council working to get the best possible deal for Scotland and made clear that we oppose the UK Government’s unhelpful desire to see a substantial cut to the Direct Payments which are a lifeline for so many Scottish farmers.

    "If the redistribution of CAP direct payments proposed for 2014 onwards applied to Scotland as a member state, our farmers could receive between £100 million and £200 million more each year – valuable support that would help them continue to manage our landscape and produce the fine raw ingredients that are the backbone of our food and drink industry.

    "I also agree with the committee that we need to be realistic about the timescale for reform and – crucially – ensure that workable interim support measures are put in place."

    You can find out more on the Scottish Parliament website

    Highland Brings Soil Experts ‘Down to the Ground’

    Posted Monday, April 30, 2012

    This May, people in Highland will get an opportunity to take part in a Festival with a difference. The Highland Soil Biodiversity Festival comprises nine days of illustrated talks, field visits and guided walks to raise awareness of the importance of our soils for nature and wildlife.

    Janet Bromham, Biodiversity Officer with Highland Council is co-ordinating the Festival. She said “We have put together a very interesting programme of events all over Highland to try to answer the questions of Why does soil matter? What does it do for us? and What lives in and on it?

    “We are holding this Festival during Scottish Biodiversity Week because soil and soil biodiversity is receiving more attention from the press and the policy makers – the State of Scotland Soil Report was produced last year – and yet very few people have a clear understanding of how soils work and why they are important to us. It fits in very well with the Scottish Biodiversity Week theme “Biodiversity is Life – Biodiversity is Our Life” and we hope lots of people across Highland will take this opportunity to find out about soil and associated wildlife.

    “There will be something for everyone, from a Soil Biodiversity Forum at Great Glen House in Inverness, to walks, talks and site visits looking at the animals that live in and on the soil, how soil influences vegetation and land use, and how we can manage our soils better to benefit wildlife and people. We are running a BioBlitz event in Dingwall, where people will get a chance to spot as many different species of plant and animal as they can in 24 hours, and a Worm Charming Championship in Lairg – which, of course, will be judged according to strict International Worm Charming Championship rules!”

    Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS said: “It’s the little things, the creepy crawlies, that make the world work, but for most of us, out of sight is literally out of mind when it comes to the creatures that live in the soil. And yet they are vital for our well-being, and we ignore the health of the soil environment and the creatures that live in soil at our peril. I applaud this important initiative.”

    Professor Richard Bardgett, Lancaster Environment Centre added: “Soil, and the multitude of organisms that live in it, play a vital role in controlling all the biogeochemical cycles on which the functioning and future health of the Earth depends. This festival is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about the many, often unexpected, ways that humans depend on soil, both knowingly and unknowingly."

    The Festival is co-ordinated by Highland Council on behalf of the Highland Biodiversity Partnership, which was set up in 2005 to provide guidance and support to a network of local biodiversity groups, and make progress on the key strategic biodiversity issues in Highland.

    It is funded by the Scottish Government and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme, with match funding from Highland Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland.

    Events run from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 May, visit the Highland Biodiversity Partnership’s website for a detailed programme and further information. Contact Janet Bromham or Jonathan Willet on 01463 702274 for further information.

    National Trust have launched a new project to get children to enjoy the great outdoors

    Posted Monday, April 30, 2012

    Concern about the drop in children enjoying the outdoors has led to the National Trust launching a new nationwide campaign to encourage sofa-bound children to take to the outdoors and enjoy classic adventures from skimming stones to building dens.

    '50 things' is an interactive checklist of the best things to do in the great outdoors - complete with rewards and games on the way. It all free! To find out more visit


    Posted Monday, April 30, 2012

    The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has launched its first international undergraduate degree. Delivered entirely online, the BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Development allows students from anywhere in the world to gain the qualification.

    Created by staff at Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, the course explores sustainable economic, social and community development as well as the environment.

    Programme leader, Dr Michael Smith, said, “Sustainable development has never been more in focus. Leaders are gearing up for one of the largest ever conferences on sustainable development in Brazil and governments are thinking seriously about alternatives to the current global economic system which appears less sustainable as each year passes as populations grow and resources become more limited.

    “This degree is available to anyone with access to a computer and broadband connection and we’ve built flexibility into weekly interactions and group activities, so students can continue to work alongside their studies.”

    As well as the undergraduate degree, the university also offers short courses in sustainable development for professionals who would like to develop and add to their existing knowledge and skills. Fully accredited by the Institute of Economic Development, both the defree and short courses allow graduates the chance to have fast-track access to full institution membership.

    Joe Macphee, Head of Economic Development at Western Isles Council, said:

    “This course aligns with our mission to support economic and social regeneration. We need to encourage and enable communities to generate new ideas and maximise potential from development opportunities. This course seems well placed to help this process.”

    To find out more about the courses in sustainable development that are on offer, visit the UHI website or call the Information Line on 0845 272 3600.


    Posted Monday, April 23, 2012

    As part of their goal to improve the service they provide, an online survey has been set up by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) Planning Department to collect users' feedback.

    The survey is open to individuals, organisations, businesses and developers who have applied for planning permission within the National Park, commented on a planning application or who have contacted the Planning Department for advice on planning issues.

    The planning arrangements in the Cairngorms National Park are unique in Scotland and involve collaboration with five local authorities who border the Park, including Highland Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Moray Council, Angus Council and Perth and Kinross Council.

    CNPA Planning Officer Andrew Tait said, “We’re aware planning policy and procedures can be complex and an important part of our job is helping people through the process. The feedback from the survey will help us carry on the good work we’re doing and also identify areas where we may be able to improve how we work.”

    The survey is being held as part of the CNPA's annual Service Improvement Plan which identifies areas that can be improved in order to keep the planning service effective and efficient for all users.


    Posted Monday, April 23, 2012

    The 2012 Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards are now open for entries. The Awards complement the work of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum by encouraging food and drink businesses to be innovative, forward thinking and collaborative through celebrating their excellence and achievements.

    Supported by Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the Awards are now in their eighth year and showcase the wide range of food and drink products in the region, produced using some of the best natural produce in the world.

    This year sees the introduction of five new categories to the existing awards, which include:

    Environment Award
    Best Drink Award
    Best Marketing Initiative
    Development of Export Markets Award
    Restaurant of the Year Award

    Quintin Stevens of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum said, “Some 1900 businesses operate in the food and drink supply chain and help underpin the economy in the Highlands and Islands. With some of the best natural produce in the world, the Awards showcase the wide range of food and drink products in the region and the equally diverse profile of businesses, from internationally renowned companies to small innovative producers.

    “We’ve introduced several new awards this year to cater for and appeal to the wealth of outstanding innovation and effort we know is helping to shape the future of the industry. We hope that more businesses in the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry will step forward this year and let the Awards help gain recognition for and promote their achievements."

    Entries are now open until Friday 15th June and can be made online, via email or post by following the guidelines on the entry website The shortlisted finalists will be announced in September and the Awards Dinner and Ceremony to honour the winners will take place at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on Friday 19th October.

    VIBE Awards Launch

    Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES) Awards launch will take place in Inverness on Thursday 26th April 4-6pm. The event is an opportunity for business that are interested in being recognised for their employment of environmental best practice to find out how to enter the VIBES award 2012.

    The event will take place at:
    HIE Offices
    Cowan House
    Inverness Retail Park

    For more details please contact

    Travel project jobs

    Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Interested in helping with our Million Miles Project? TBI is looking for a full-time project officer for our three-year project to help Black Isle residents reduce their car usage, and we also need a part-time PR consultant and Bookkeeper.

    The Million Miles Project hopes to reduce the annual distance driven by Black Isle folk by a mere 1% - or a massive Million Miles, depending on which way you look at it! We’ll be looking at the things that stop people using bikes, lift-share schemes and public transport, and trying to make them easier and more fun.

    The Travel Project Officer will take overall control of the project, arranging events, liaising with other interested parties, managing part-time staff and co-ordinating volunteers. The PR Consultant will over-see the marketing and communications side of the project, and the Bookkeeper will maintain financial records, including PAYE and monthly reports against budget.

    If you’re interested in any of these positions, we need applications by 20th April. Send a CV and covering letter, or in the case of the PR Consultant or Bookkeeper posts, a proposal setting out your background, your proposed approach to the work, and an estimate of fees. Applications should be sent to Martin Sherring, Stoneybank, Culbokie, IV7 8JH.

    There’s more information available on the website


    Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    The official national launch took place on Thursday 29th, in Portobello in Edinburgh, with Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & Environment, and Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful.

    It’s still not too late to join the 60,000 who have already signed up, and help Keep Scotland Beautiful reach the target of 200,000 Scots out cleaning their favourite part of Scotland this Spring.

    It’s completely free to take part, plus there are competitions and Greggs treats can be ordered for every person who takes part in your clean-up event. And if you don’t fancy organising your own event, you can search our on-line map to see if there is an event in your area you can join.

    So, what are you waiting for? More information, and on-line registration, can be found here:

    If you would like to organise a clean-up event out-with the National Spring Clean dates (1st April – 31st May), you can order a free clean up kit here:

    New Round of Energyshare Funding

    Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    The energyshare Fund, a collaboration between energyshare and British Gas, will open for applications again from Tuesday 10th April onwards. This new round of funds will have eight awards of amounts between £2,500 and £5,000 available to local energy projects.

    Local community groups who wish to apply to the Fund will have two options available:

    Raise £5,000 of your own through the website and British Gas and energyshare will match it. Submit an online application to be considered for one of three awards of £2,500
    During the previous energyshare Fund, four local communities were helped to realise their renewable energy projects and between them they are set to generate enough energy to power 1,169 homes and earn a projected annual income of £500,000.

    Funding received through the scheme must be used towards a potential renewable energy installation, energy efficiency measures or behavioural change measures.

    Further details on the fund including how to apply, are available from the energyshare website

    New Flood Awareness Service for Businesses

    Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012

    The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and have recently launched a flooding awareness campaign specifically aimed at businesses.

    14,000 businesses in Scotland are at risk of flooding and being prepared can significantly help reduce the impact it has on a business. SEPA’s Floodline direct warning service aims to give people who sign up valuable time to take action and protect their business against flooding.

    Sign up to the new free flood warning Floodline

    0845 988 1188

    Soirbheas - The Community Wind Energy Project for Glen Urquhart and Strathglass

    Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Corrimony Energy is Building a small (5 turbines) wind-farm. The community charity Soirbheas are raising funds to own one of the wind turbines. The money raised from the generation of electricity will be fed back into the community.

    How will the money be spent tackling fuel poverty, Community Growth Projects and community sustainability. The Charity needs community support and feedback to make sure the money is spent in the most effective ways.

    To find out more visit the Soirbheas website

    Help needed to mobilise 200,000 volunteers to keep Scotland beautiful

    Posted Monday, March 19, 2012

    As one of Scotland's leading environmental charities, Keep Scotland Beautiful has been active in Scotland for over 40 years. During this time much of our work has focussed on litter, waste and campaigning for a clean and tidy country.

    National Spring Clean is our litter campaign to encourage communities of all types to take ownership of an area close to them and use their combined effort to make a difference.

    Participation has risen exponentially over the last few years we now seek your support to assist in reaching our ambitious target of 200,000 participants in the 2012 National Spring Clean campaign.

    Groups can register for a free Clean Up Kit and find out more about what is happening in their area by visiting the website

    Please assist us by supporting our vision of a clean, green, sustainable Scotland and encourage all of your members to register and organise a local clean-up to support National Spring Clean 2012.

    Please feel free to use the promotional flyer, email / newsletter text and logo attached to this email and let us know if you need any other materials or information.

    On behalf of Keep Scotland Beautiful, thank you for supporting our National Spring Clean campaign.

    Keep Scotland Beautiful, working for a clean, green, sustainable Scotland in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland.

    Join us and 200,000 volunteers in keeping Scotland beautiful. Scotland’s biggest clean up, National Spring Clean, runs from 1st April – 31st May 2012. Find out more and register at: #NationalSpringClean

    Working for a clean, green, sustainable Scotland in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland.

    HEN Conference 24th March at Drumnadrochit

    Posted Monday, March 19, 2012

    From Fuel Poverty to Green Gold

    Still a few places left, so it's not too late to join us for an inspiring day which will also be a great opportunity to learn more about sustainable energy and network with like minded organisations and individuals.

    Download the booking form from the conference page or call Carol on 07557044809.

    Tick Bite Prevention Week 26th March - 1st April

    Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Tick-borne disease charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness-UK) and its Patron, TV Bushcraft and Survival expert Ray Mears, are warning both outdoor workers and outdoor-pursuits enthusiasts to be vigilant about a potential increased risk of tick bites this spring. The week long event is being held between March 26th and April 1st.

    The charity is using its annual awareness campaign Tick Bite Prevention Week to highlight the health risks that ticks pose, especially following the recent EU ban of the herbicide Asulam. Up until its ban, Asulam was used by hill farmers and other professional to control the invasive spread of bracken which provides the perfect habitat for ticks. Ray Mears warns:

    "The control of bracken is vital to the survival of numerous species of flora and fauna as well as reducing tick populations. The spread of bracken as a result of this ban will lead to increased tick numbers making it all the more important that the public takes precautions against tick bites when out and about in rural areas."

    BADA-UK, a registered charity run by unpaid volunteers who have been affected by Lyme disease and associated infections, believes that the key to combating the recent rise in tick-borne disease is through increasing public and professional awareness. The charity advises that with no preventative vaccine available, the best defence against tick-born infection is to avoid being bitten, by taking a few simple precautions when out and about.

    Wendy Fox, Chair of BADA-UK says:

    "We understand, perhaps better than most, the devastating effects that tick-borne diseases can have, therefore we strive to help prevent others from falling victim to them.

    Ticks are part of the natural world and the great outdoors are there to be enjoyed. It is therefore important to be informed about, rather than unknowingly exposed to, infections that are preventable".

    Further information about Tick Bite Prevention Week can be found on their website.

    Lights out! - Earth Hour

    Posted Friday, March 09, 2012

    Highland Council has participated in Earth Hour each year since it began in 2008. As a show of support floodlighting are to be switched off at key landmarks including Ruthven Barracks, Inverness Castle, Glenurquhart Castle and Eilan Donan Castle. The aim is to encourage people to think about the energy they use, where it comes from and the impact that it has on the environment and climate change.

    WWF are also encouraging individuals to sign up to the campaign and they can register to do so on the website below. WWF publish a league table of the Local Authorities with the most signatories and last year Shetland Isles Council came out on top place.


    National Spring Clean

    Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Keep Scotland Beautiful is excited to announce details of Scotland’s biggest annual litter clean up, National Spring Clean, and this year we’re hoping it will be the biggest and best yet.

    This year’s campaign will run from 1st April – 31st May 2012 and this year we’ve set ourselves the ambitious target of getting 200,000 participants.

    Make a difference to your favourite place
    Taking part in National Spring Clean is a great way to make a difference to your favourite place in Scotland.

    Whether it’s your local park, a favourite beach, the route of your Sunday walk or an unloved piece of land that you pass everyday there are thousands of places that would benefit from a bit of TLC.

    So this Spring why not spend an hour or two with your family, friends, colleagues or community group to improve your neighbourhood.

    How you can help
    Sign up to now to receive your FREE Clean Up Kit. Your kit contains everything you need to get started including tabards, posters, a ‘how to’ guide and details on how you can get the litter you collect picked up afterwards.

    Visit to find out more, including details of great competitions and how to get your hands on some tasty Gregg’s treats.

    Is there Green Gold at the end of the Rainbow?

    Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Don’t miss out on our Green Gold day! From Fuel Poverty to Green Gold is the theme for the Highland Environmental Network 2012 Annual Conference. The invitations are out to organisations and individuals to attend HEN Annual Conference that will take place on Saturday 24th March in Drumnadrochit.

    There is increasing concern about the alarming rise in fuel poverty across Scotland. HEN wants to raise awareness about the environmental impact of traditional fuels and how communities and business can realistically move towards renewables. This motivating event will aim to explore practical alternatives for communities and businesses to tackle fuel poverty; focusing on the positive outcomes that sustainability can bring – green gold!

    “HEN has been running conferences for a number of years now and the events have gone from strength to strength. The event also provide a great opportunity to network as well as learning more about how we can help to sustain our environment and share good practise.” Said Jenny Sleeman, Chair of HEN

    As well as a programme of inspiring speakers, delegates will have the opportunity to attend 2 workshop including: Getting the most out of wood fuel, Using a Thermal Imaging camera to tackle fuel poverty, Developing a business model for a low carbon economy, Practical ways to reduce fuel poverty in my community and Making Renewable Energy work for you.

    Key note speakers:
    Andrew Millson - Scottish Business in the Community
    Chris Perkins - Highland Birchwoods
    Dr Peter Dennis - The SEAM Centre, Inverness College UHI
    Richard Jones - HBS Ring Ltd

    The AGM will take place at 4pm after the conference – all welcome.

    For further information on how to book a place at the conference contact Carol Masheter, HEN Project Development Officer (p/t), or go to the website to download programme and booking form

    Speakers & Workshop Facilitators Biographies

    Dr Peter Dennis, The SEAM Centre, Inverness College, UHI
    The SEAM Centre is a training, information and research facility for Sustainable Energy and Micro-renewables based at Inverness College UHI. The Centre is an important hub for micro-renewables and sustainable energy technology within the Highlands, Islands and Scotland. Inverness College UHI is also a partner in the EU funded Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) project, SMALLEST. This project seeks to draw on the shared knowledge and skills of European partner regions to create an innovative service assisting remote communities to implement renewable energy solutions.

    Andrew Milson, Scottish Business in the Community
    Scottish Business in the Community is one of the Prince's Charities in Scotland, it is the only organisation supporting and challenging its private sector members and its partners to improve their impacts on the economy, environment and society. Andrew is the Head of Environment, Training and Advisory Services at SBC on his journey to Scotland from South Africa via a commercial life in London and a development world in Tanzania. During this time, Andrew come to realize the power of business and with that it’s (unfulfilled) capacity to make lasting change for a fairer, safer and more environmentally sound world.

    Amanda Calvert & Chris Perkins - Highand Birchwoods
    Highland Birchwoods was formed in 1992 as a partnership of the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage, Highland Council and Highland & Islands Enterprise to promote best practice in the management of woodlands and forests to: improve conservation and biodiversity values, deliver sustainable rural development, enhance recreational, landscape and amenity facilities. Amanda originally studied Biological Sciences at Wolverhampton, upon graduation she decided that her ultimate career would be one that meant spending her time carrying out conservation work in one form or another. She joined Highland Birchwoods team in 2010 to run the highly successful “Use Green Heat” project. Chris has extensive experience in rural development and countryside management. He has worked as a Project Manager for Scottish Native Woods, run his own native woodland management company and the Loch Katrine Native Woodland project. Chris moved from native woodland management to Highland Birchwoods to manage the “Forestry and Rural Development Scheme”. Although a self confessed native woodland nut, he works mainly with commercial woodland supply chains and is also the owner/manager of the smallest district heating scheme in Scotland!

    Richard Jones - HBS Ring Ltd
    HBS Ring Ltd was started in 1991 to match up farmers with a surplus of machines or labour with those who had a shortage and so "The Machinery Ring" was born. Since then activities have expanded and they now offer just about everything a Farmer, Estate, Contractor, Small Business or Individual Member could need including training and advice on renewables. Richard Jones has a background in farming and originally joined the ring as training co-ordinator and is involved in all aspects of HBS Ring Services.

    Robert Dunn, The Lochaber Initiative on Fuel and Energy (LIFE)
    LIFE is a project delivered by The Lochaber Environmental Group funded by the Climate Challenge Fund. The Project aims to reduce energy and fuel consumption, and thus Lochaber’s carbon footprint by using thermal imaging cameras to see where homes are losing heat. The project also providing information on insulation and other home energy saving methods, particularly where free support is available from the government; as well as encourage the use of local renewable fuel and energy sources.

    Alan Grant - Energy Saving Scotland advice centre Highlands and Islands (ESSac)
    The ESSac helps householders save energy, carbon and money by providing free, impartial, expert advice on all matters related to energy efficiency, small scale renewables and low carbon personal transport. Alan is an Outreach Engagement Officer, and is working with community groups and external partners to promote the Scottish Government’s Energy Assistance Package targeting lower income groups and the fuel poor. Alan joined the ESSac in May 2009, having worked previously for The Highland Council and Cairn Housing Association in their Housing Departments.


    1. Andrew Millson - Developing a business model for a low carbon economy.
    Recognising the opportunities and challenges faced by business and organisation that choose the low carbon route.

    2. Dr Peter Dennis - Making renewable energy work for you.
    Making the right choice when going for a renewable heating or energy system.

    3. Amanda Calvert - Getting the best out of wood.
    Advice on wood fuelled systems, types of timber and storage.

    4. Alan Grant – Practical ways to reduce fuel poverty in my community.
    Reduce fuel costs in the home and stay warm.

    5. Robert Dunn – Lochaber Initiative on Fuel and Energy
    Using a thermal imaging camera as a tool to tackle fuel poverty.

    The BIG Lottery Fund

    Posted Friday, February 10, 2012

    The BIG Lottery Fund is now using online interactive sessions to help even more organisations get grants of up to £10,000. All you need is a computer with broadband and either a microphone and speakers, or a telephone. Joining by microphone and speakers will incur no cost to you, but via BT landline will cost you less than £5 for one hour.

    The first session on 9 February 2012 is aimed at beginner applicants. So if you have never successfully applied for a small grant from BIG, are just setting up as an organisation or new to fundraising, why not join this user-friendly session?

    It will take you through the requirements for applying, help you decide which grant is right for your project and give you an overview of our three small grants. They will also give you tips on completing your application, using Awards for All as an example. You’ll be able to see their presentation, ask questions directly and get on the spot responses. Previous participants have found the system easy to use (there’s a short demonstration at the start) and have saved on time and travel costs.
    If you are looking for a quick start to getting your project funded this could be for you. Places are limited, so to register please use the invite below now.

    Further identical sessions will take place in 2012 on 13 March 3-4pm and 4 April 10-11am - registration for these is not yet open (please check their website in future).

    From Fuel Poverty to Green Gold

    Posted Tuesday, February 07, 2012

    HEN 2012 Annual Conference & AGM From Fuel Poverty to Green Gold
    Sat 24th March 2012 at Craigmonie Centre, Drumnadrochit.

    This motivating event will aim to exploring realistic alternatives for communities and businesses to tackle fuel poverty; focusing on the positive outcomes that sustainability can bring – green gold!

    Key Speakers
    Andrew Millson - Scottish Business in the Community
    Chris Perkins - Highland Birchwoods
    Dr Peter Dennis - The SEAM Centre, Inverness College UHI
    Richard Jones - HBS Ring Ltd

    As well as a programme of inspiring speaker delegates will have the opportunity to choose from a selection of workshops including: Getting the most out of wood fuel, Using a thermal imaging camera to tackle fuel poverty, Developing a business model for a low carbon economy and Making Renewable Energy work for you.

    Book now as places are limited – Deadline 5th March 2012
    The AGM will take place after the conference at 4pm – all welcome!

    For the full programme and booking form go to the conference section of the HEN website

    Accounts Made Easy

    Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012

    a new accounts service for Registered Charities and Voluntary Organisations
    · Book-Keeping

    · Account Preparation

    · Independent Examination

    All charities and voluntary organisations need to have their accounts checked to make sure that their finances are managed properly and running smoothly. Most don’t require an audit by an accountant.
    Our new Accounts Service can help with:
    · Financial Systems

    · Book Keeping

    · Preparing your Accounts

    · Independent Examination

    All registered charities need to file accounts and returns with OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator). If you are a charity with an annual income of less than £500,000 we can help you to meet your legal requirements and avoid having your accounts returned by OSCR.
    ask the experts
    Finding someone with the required expertise to independently examine your accounts can be difficult and time consuming. Because we support other charities and voluntary organisations, Signpost can now offer you a professional Independent Examination service that is tailored to meet the individual needs of your organisation. Our highly trained staff have in-depth knowledge
    of the laws and procedures governing charities accounts. They will work with you to produce professional, compliant, annual accounts in line with OSCR requirements.
    Already producing compliant accounts?
    Then ask us for a quotation to carry out your independent examination
    Because we’re here to help, our rates are kept low.
    payment options
    The cost of our service is based on a standard rate of £25 per hour. All work is costed up to the nearest quarter-hour. However, we will be more than happy to negotiate a fixed-price deal if that is what you prefer. In line with our charging policy, if your organisation needs this service and genuinely cannot afford to pay... please contact us to discuss your options.

    and what else

    In addition to our Accounts Service, our friendly, experienced staff can offer a range of services to support charities and voluntary groups to run their organisations dynamically and efficiently.

    Signpost can offer you help with:
    · Governance

    · Fundraising

    · Quality Standards

    · Human Resources

    · Training a variety of office services including photocopying, services including photocopying, laminating, franking and mailing.
    For more information about our services and how we can help your organisation, please contact:
    The Gateway
    1a Millburn Road
    IV2 3PX

    t: 01463 711393



    Signpost is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland, no. SC394375. Signpost is a Scottish Charity, no. SC042210

    BTCV’s Half-price Membership Offer

    Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Environmental volunteering charity BTCV Scotland is currently offering half-price membership of just £19 to its newly enhanced Community Network whose member groups include hundreds of community associations, conservation societies, gardening projects, and ‘Friends of’ groups throughout the country. All care for an aspect of their local environment - a community garden, nature reserve, woodland, allotment, park or open space. As well as the environmental gain, such projects provide valuable social, health and learning opportunities for everyone taking part.

    At the heart of the Community Network’s provision is an improved programme of free and subsidised training events covering a wide range of topics from practical conservation skills to working with volunteers from different backgrounds.

    Other Network benefits include:

    • Support from BTCV’s local offices to help member groups with their projects on the ground.
    • Online assistance through BTCV’s Community Hub, including links to the comprehensive GRANTnet funding website and a Resource Bank packed with useful information for group leaders.
    • The Chestnut Fund - a small grants scheme enabling groups with limited funds to equip themselves with necessary tools and training.
    • BTCV’s popular insurance scheme enabling groups to ‘do their own thing’ with essential insurance cover for volunteers and public alike, plus peace of mind for group organisers.
    • The Network Bulletin, three issues annually, showcasing the work of member groups.
    • A monthly e-Bulletin providing up-to-date news and information on training courses, funding opportunities, and networking events. Information is power!

    BTCV Scotland is developing the Community Network in partnership with the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity (FEVA), with support from the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage. The Network is aimed at supporting both ‘traditional’ environmental groups, plus organisations representing the wider spectrum of community and voluntary activity. This includes BME groups, youth organisations, health agencies, and others whose volunteers and clients can also contribute to, and benefit from, environmental activities.

    BTCV Scotland’s introductory offer of £19 for new members runs until 1 April 2012. And for those groups who don’t require the full package of benefits, the Community Network also provides a number of free information, learning and networking opportunities for interested individuals and groups.

    For further information visit, email, or telephone Graham Burns at 0141 552 5294.

    The Scottishe Mink Initiative Team

    Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    In 2011 the volunteer networks have expanded to new areas across Aberdeenshire, north rural Tayside, Moray and the Highlands. The project has added to the already large volunteer base and raft network from the previous projects, with now over 500 volunteers in place and over 900 rafts active across 20,000 km².

    Since April this year over 100 mink have been removed from the SMI area. In response to mink sightings reported north of Ullapool, SMI extended the project area northwards to cover much of the North West Highlands. Cromarty Firth Fisheries Trust has now taken on the responsibility of mink control within their area and two more trusts are set to follow early in 2012. The new volunteer and local networks that have been established comprise of over 100 organisations and groups. We continue to raise awareness about the problems mink cause and the aims and achievements of SMI. Our work has featured in a number of scientific and technical publications and SMI has had a prominent and enthusiastic presence at many local and national events.

    If you need any equipment or just want a chat about the progress, please do get in touch.

    Cat Robinson
    Mink Control Officer
    Cairngorms and Moray
    (Rivers Spey, Lossie, Findhorn, Nairn, Ness and Beauly)

    c/o Cairngorms National Park Authority
    14 The Square
    PH26 3HG

    07825 185 178

    Renewable Heat Premium Payment

    Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Through the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme homeowners in Scotalnd can benefit from a cashback voucher of up to £1,250 towards the cost of a home renewable heating system such as a heat pump or wood fuelled boiler.

    It is only available until 31 March 2012 so if you are thinking about adding a renewable energy system to your home find out more information by visiting the Energy Savings Trust website.

    Free road safety play for community audiences

    Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Is your community interested in hosting a free road safety play suitable for all generations? Road Safety Scotland has been working with Baldy Bane Theatre Company in the development of a new play which is set to tour the country for a ten-week period in spring 2012.

    It is hoped that a wide variety of groups will take up the offer to host the stage play Better Late Than Dead on Time in their local community venue. The play covers many issues including inappropriate speeds, hazards to drivers and pedestrations and young drivers. All topics are dealt with sensitively and are primarily presented in a humorous but realistic way to focus awareness and discussion in the audiences.

    Mairi Blair, Assistant Director, Road Safety Scotland said, "In the road environment, pedestrians and drivers can be affected by the same road safety issues, no matter the age. Baldy Bane Theatre Company has, once again, developed a wonderfully funny, and incredibly thought-provoking and stimulating play to engage the whole community. Don't miss out!"

    Alison Couston, Executive Director, Baldy Bane Theatre said, "We are excited about taking this new production out on the road as it is relevant to so many groups within our communities. It gives a very human perspective on the issues highlighted in the play, and, most importantly it is very entertaining for the audience and will provide an excellent focus for any group meeting. We are keen for as many organisations to get in touch to embrace the opportunity of hosting this free resource."

    If considered appropriate, there is the opportunity for an interactive post-show session, which takes the form of an enjoyable, and possibly rewarding quiz.

    The play will tour from 6th February 2012 until 13th April 2012. The production is funded by Road Safety Scotland and is free to all groups. If you are interested in hosting the play contact the Baldy Bane office directly on 0141 632 0193 to reserve a booking.

    Take One Action - Scottish Tour Film Programme February 2012 Announced!

    Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    The Festival is supported by The Co-operative and Creative Scotland. All events feature discussion with local business, campaigners and filmmakers details of our 2012 Scottish Tour showcasing "the best of the fest" across rural Scotland. Spread the word to people you know in Stirling, Ashford, Dumblane, Comrie, Aberdeen, Banchory, Alford, Nairn, Inverness, Cromarty, Ullapool, Stornoway and Skye! And if you know secondary schools in these areas that might also be interested in taking part, please get in touch.

    Visit the website for email from or If you need to speak to us directly, please telephone +44 (0)131 553 6335 or with media enquiries please call Simon on +44 (0)7515 106 303. or

    Dates of tour
    Fri 17th FebMacrobert Centre, StirlingEven The Rain
    Sat 18th FebAshfield Village HallThere Once was an Island
    Sat 18th FebAshfield Village HallEven The Rain
    Mon 20th FebMacrobert Centre, StirlingHomegrown
    Tues 21st FebVisit Scotland Information Centre, Callander There Once Was an Island
    Wed 22nd FebComrie Village HallYou’ve Been Trumped
    Thurs 23rd FebBelmont Cinema, AberdeenEven The Rain
    Fri 24th FebWoodend Barn, BanchoryHomegrown
    Sat 25th FebTullynessle & Forbes Hall, Alford Blood In the Mobile
    Mon 27th FebEden Court, InvernessBlood In the Mobile
    Tues 28th FebNairn Community & Arts Centre Even The Rain
    Wed 29th FebRoyal Hotel, Cromarty Homegrown
    Thurs 1st MarMacphail Centre, UllapoolYou’ve Been Trumped
    Fri 2nd MarAn Lanntair, Lewis You’ve Been Trumped
    Sat 3rd MarDuirnish Media Club, SkyeThere Once Was an Island
    Sat 3rd MarDuirnish Media Club, SkyeYou’ve Been Trumped

    Rural Priorities Assessment Rounds - Dates announced

    Posted Monday, December 05, 2011

    Dates have been published on the Scottish Government website for the next Rural Priorities Assessment Rounds in 2012. Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs announced this week that the Rural Priorities funding scheme will open for business again in 2012. However, he said it was vital the Axis 1 funding was spent carefully as there was less money in the pot because spending was brought forward in 2009 and 2010 in response to the credit crunch. Find out more

    The Arkleton Trust Future Theme - call for expressions of interest

    Posted Monday, December 05, 2011

    Are you interested in an opportunity to promote, and possibly research, an emerging issue concerning rural areas? If so, the Arkleton trust is inviting expressions of interest from those wishing to develop proposals which will help to determine the future theme(s), on which the Trust will focus its efforts for 2 - 3 years from 2013. You find out more in The Arkleton Trust Future Theme - call for expressions of interest.

    Keep the Heat in Campaign, Highlands

    Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011

    The campaign from Friends of the Earth Inverness & Ross
    is helping businesses in the Highlands to ‘Keep The Heat In’

    The campaign – funded through the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund – will run until March 2012, by which time we hope to have save hundreds of tonnes of greenhouse gases. Trained energy advisors are available for free visits to discuss all aspects of energy in your business and direct you towards other sources of help. Peter Elbourne is the group’s lead Energy Advisor:

    "The campaign is about stopping energy waste, so we want to help businesses in the Highlands with all aspects of their energy use, including advice on lighting and renewables."

    ‘Keep The Heat In’ kicked off in Dingwall on Saturday 11th June, when volunteers began speaking to businesses in and around the High Street about the project. We will be trying to contact every one of the offices, restaurants, bars and retailers.

    To help work out how much electriciy businesses are consuming, we also have two types of monitor available to borrow for two weeks at no cost.

    Focusing a campaign in a community makes it easier for us to work out what common barriers businesses are experiencing. We're finding that a lot of businesses are reliant on electric heating, which is expensive and polluting. A local campaign also encourages businesses to make the necessary changes together. So if you run a local shop and you're 'keeping the heat in', then put up one of our window stickers! Now that we are getting towards the end of our campaign in Dingwall, we will be shortly moving on to Inverness and, eventually, Nairn.

    Please contact us if you would like more details about our project or if you are interested in taking part in one of our campaign days.

    Below is a list of some of the businesses in the area that we have advised during our campaign:

    - The Greenhouse, Dingwall - Green Tree, Strathpeffer
    - Ma Maison Ecossaise, Inverness - Celtic FC, Inverness

    Also see downloads for a report on the campaign in Dingwall.

    For more information contact 07715 663781 or email or visit

    Climate Challenge Fund has reopend

    Posted Monday, October 10, 2011

    Keep Scotland Beautiful welcomes today’s (5th October 2011) announcement, that The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) which supports community-led action to reduce emissions, has reopened again with the addition of a stream dedicated to under 18s called Junior CCF.

    Announcing the £10.3 million extended Scottish Government scheme, Environment and Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson met with P4 and P5 pupils from Churnside Primary at Lambhill Stables in Glasgow which previously received over £360,000 from The Climate Challenge Fund to create a community hub. Now training and educational opportunities are offered at Lambhill Stables to local residents on the following themes: gardening; renewable energies; and sustainable transport.

    Mr Stevenson said, "The Junior CCF is an exciting addition to this overall project and I look forward to seeing the innovative ideas put forward by Scotland's children to reduce our carbon footprint. The ambition of Junior CCF is clear - to provide the means for the next generation to make a real difference on an issue we know they are passionate about.

    "Since 2008, 345 individual communities across Scotland have received awards through CCF and their contribution in tackling climate change is greatly acknowledged. Our Economic Strategy and Spending Review makes strong references to the importance of grass roots action such as this if we are to move towards a truly low carbon economy.

    "Lambhill Stables is a great example of how CCF offers real community benefits. It has brought the practical benefits of low carbon living into this area making it relevant and making a positive difference to people's lives."

    Keep Scotland Beautiful has administrated CCF since it was launched in June 2008. Chief Executive Derek Robertson said, "Keep Scotland Beautiful is delighted to hear that the Scottish Government has re-opened the CCF to applicants today. Keep Scotland Beautiful has managed the CCF on behalf of the Scottish Government since 2008 and provided support to communities, including Lambhill Stables, taking action on climate change. Our staff's passion and commitment to the CCF has been evident in the ongoing success of the scheme and is an integral part of Keep Scotland Beautiful's vision for a clean green sustainable Scotland.

    “Having managed our flagship education program Eco-Schools Scotland so successfully for over 10 years we feel the addition of Junior CCF will really benefit from the strengths and expertise Keep Scotland Beautiful has and the added value that brings to the fund"

    For more information and detail of how to apply visit

    Highland Cross - Call to charities who wish to apply for funding

    Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011

    The Highland Cross Organising Committee is calling on registered charities that provide medical or social services for the benefit of the people of Highland to apply for funding. Previous applicants to Highland Cross, whether successful or unsuccessful, are welcome to apply. Highland Cross can only provide capital funds and cannot support revenue or staff costs. Applications must be with Highland Cross by 31 October 2011.

    Applications to be a major beneficiary from Highland Cross 2012

    Charities that provide medical or social services for the benefit of the people of Highland can apply to become a major beneficiary from Highland Cross 2012, which will take place on 23rd June 2012. A potential major beneficiary will usually seek a sum in the region of £20,000 to £40,000. Funding will not be available until the autumn of 2012.

    Major beneficiaries are expected to contribute to the successful organisation of the event by:

    Contributing £1,000 towards the costs and

    Providing 20 appropriate people to act as marshals

    Normally Highland Cross will have three or four major beneficiaries each year. Applications must be with Highland Cross by 31 October 2011.

    Applications for smaller amounts of assistance

    Applications for smaller amounts of assistance should also be made by 31 October 2011, and if surplus funds are available from the 2011 event, a distribution may be made thereafter. The smallest grant ever given was for just under £60. Funding for smaller grants will be available from November 2011. Applicants for smaller sums are not required to pledge finance or personnel, but many beneficiaries do offer small numbers of marshals to future events.

    Application process

    Whether charities are looking for funding for a small project, or to be a major beneficiary, applications must be made on the funding application form, which can be obtained from

    Alternatively, a copy of the application form can be requested from Highland Cross Organisers, Redwood, 19 Culduthel Road, Inverness, IV2 4AA or by e mail to

    The completed form should be sent with the required supporting documents to Highland Cross Organisers at the above address.

    Charity Selection Process

    All applications undergo an initial screening. If successful at that stage, applications to be one of the principal charities will have the opportunity to present their case to a selection panel in Inverness. The Organising Committee do not select the charities as a number of the Organisers are professionally involved with charity work in the Highlands.

    Major Beneficiaries

    Charities are chosen by an Independent Charity Selection Panel of three members who are quite separate from the Organising Committee. The Charity Selection Panel normally selects up to 6 potential major beneficiaries for interview and then informs the Organisers of the nominated causes.

    Smaller Grants

    Grants for smaller amounts are assessed on the basis of the application form. Where they consider it necessary the Independent Charity Selection Panel may seek additional information from applicants.

    Further background information on Highland Cross can be found on its website

    Withdrawal of Emergency Tugs off ther West Coast and Northern Isles - Can you help?

    Posted Monday, September 19, 2011

    The Local authorities of the Highlands and Islands have been working together for a number of months to try to persuade the UK Government of the need to retain the 2 MCA funded Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) which currently operate off the West coast and around the Northern Isles. The ETVs were introduced following the environmental disaster caused by the Braer shipping accident and the vulnerabilities that existed then have not diminished significantly to warrant the withdrawal of this service. Indeed, the MCA’s own risk assessment, carried out in 2008 (the Marico Report) made a very strong case for retaining the ETVs and nothing has changed since then to materially affect their assessment, save the need to make budget savings. Furthermore, the MCA do not plan to introduce any measures to compensate for the withdrawal of the Tugs such as improved AIS tracking, mandatory pilotage or investment to improve the sea going and fire fighting capability of the existing harbour tugs.

    Local authorities have met with the Shipping Minister and with MCA officials on a number of occasions but it is clear that they will not change their minds unless an alternative funding source can be identified. We have issued press statements and have received some press coverage, but we need more people to become aware and get involved. With a local MP sitting in the Treasury as the Chief Secretary, it must be possible for funding to be found elsewhere, if there is a political will to do so, but we have reached the end of what can be achieved through political channels alone. We need assistance to raise the profile and generate a head of steam around this issue that Ministers will have to listen to.

    Can you help? To join the campaign to retain a vital maritime and coastal protection measure which the UK Government has decided to remove for budgetary reasons and against the strong advice of the UK Parliament’s Transport Committee.

    Please join the facebook campaign Save Scotland's Tugs
    Please lobby the following:
    The Secretary for State for Transport, Phillip Hammond
    The Chief Executive of the MCA, Sir Alan Massey, Sir Alan Masey and
    The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.

    Kate Lackie
    Business Manager
    The Chief Executive’s Office
    The Highland Council

    Please see Downloads - for a Risk Assesment

    HEN at Belladrum 2011 5th - 6th August

    Posted Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    The date is nearly upon us and there is definitely a feeling of excitement building in the HEN House! HEN will be at Belladrum on mass this year accompanied with 25 Highland based musical acts. So what is it all about?

    HEN is hoping to sign up over 60 people to take action to reduce their carbon footprint. Local bands will show their support by wearing feathers and taking on the challenge of carbon reduction. There will be quizzes and fun activities to test your carbon footprint and even a chance to have a thermal image taken. So if you’re coming to Belladrum this weekend don't for get to pay the HEN House a visit you will find us in the Walled Garden - enjoy the music and chill out with us!
    Friday 5th August

    2100 Black Rock Ceilidh Band
    2000 Dorec- a -belle
    1900 Last Summer Effect Unplugged
    1800 Adrian Telfer
    1715 Corralach
    1630 Lilian Ross and Malina MacDonald ,Lewis Kane
    1545 Ghillie dhu folk band
    1500 Alice Bentley with Finnie Eveling-Swinney
    1415 Ally McLeod and Donald Forbes
    1330 Corey Symonds
    1245 Graham Bell
    1200 Jamie Reid

    Saturday 6th August

    2100 Ashley Mackay +3
    2000 Maria Hall Unplugged Band
    1900 RONA
    1800 Fiona J Mc Kenzie, Stu Clarke and Lisa Rigby
    1715 Acoustic reverb
    1630 Emily McKinnon
    1545 Waiting for Bruce
    1500 Sarah Jane Thomson
    1415 Malcolm Cumming
    1330 Graham Brown +1
    1245 Feis Chataibh
    1200 Megan Blyth

    HEN at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival

    Posted Monday, July 18, 2011

    Highland Environment Network (HEN) will be having a major presence at this year’s Tartan Heart Festival 2011 at Belladrum with the introduced of the FREE RANGE FOLK STAGE. HEN successful secured funding from the Climate Challenge Fund which will enable them to be at this year’s festival.
    The resources of HEN, Glachbeg Croft and Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival supported by the Climate Challenge Fund have combined to provide this stage to give Highland acoustic performers an opportunity to play at what they see to be their local festival.
    The Free Range Folk Stage has grown out of the Glachbeg Croft Education Centre music club which has been set up in response to local musicians concerns that, though there was a lot of music to be heard in the Highlands, a great deal of it was not from local acoustic performers.
    Festival goers will have a chance to listen to some musicians that are becoming well known on the local scene, as well as those have their own flock of followers! All we ask listeners to do is to open their ears and minds to something that hasn’t quite happened at Belladrum before. There are 25 acts lined up to play a range from folk through to a fusion of traditional with modern music.

    We want to use this opportunity to engage with people and to encourage them to take action to reduce their carbon emissions. We have also sorts of fun activities planned as well as a great music line up including having a thermal image photograph taken of yourself just to see how hot or cool you really are!

    If you are at Belladrum come along to the walled garden and find out what it’s all about, you might even win a prize!


    Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011

    We are very excited to be through to the final round of the Jubilee People’s Millions grant programme run by the National Lottery and ITV.
    If Wild things! are successful with this grant we will be able to provide some unique experiences and opportunities for children, teenagers and adults in the Moray Firth Region through our Coastal Classroom programme.
    The coastline of the Moray Firth supports some of the UK’s most threatened species. With the help of the Jubilee People’s Millions, we aim to use the Moray Firth coastline as an inspirational location for outdoor learning whilst also enabling participants to make a significant practical contribution to it’s conservation.
    In order to create a classroom where sea anemones and shore crabs are your classmates...
    We need your help!
    To learn more about this exciting new programme you can watch our YouTube movie at
    or go to our website at:

    West Wheels - New Car Club in Mallaig!

    Posted Friday, May 20, 2011

    Car Clubs are a new innovative way of cutting the costs of car ownership and helping the environment. Members are able to book out a car for use when they need it while the club takes on the responsibility for ownership, maintenance and insurance.

    Due to initiatives from residents of the Small Isles and Knoydart, Mallaig has been chosen as one of the sites for a car club which is being launched on Monday by Cllr Allan Henderson and the Mallaig Harbour Master James MacLean.

    Funding from the Scottish Government via Transform Scotland has allowed the purchase of two cars, a Ford Focus and a Ford Fusion. During the initial 5 month trial period membership is being offered at £10 with a deposit of £50. Cars can then be booked out at either an hourly or daily rate. Bookings are on the internet and bills are sent out on return.

    A good take up of this opportunity will help us to make it permanent. An estimated minimum of 25 members is needed to secure the project for the future. For those not needing a car on a daily basis the club offers the prospect of giving up private car ownership altogether. Data from a study at Findhorn showed that members saved from £1,000 to £3,500 per year.

    The Mallaig community has been actively supportive of the project. Mallaig Harbour Authority has provided a car parking space on the pier for convenient collection and the Fisherman’s Mission has supported the launch with refreshments. Morar Motors will be used by the project for maintenance for the cars and have provided useful advice.

    The Mallaig project has been financed through Carplus, a charity promoting alternatives to private car use. More details are available on

    Development officers:

    Susan Carstairs 01687 450327
    Duncan Spence 07848448404

    And the local advisory group includes:

    Lucy Conway
    Gwen Barrell
    Georgie McMillan
    Judy McEwan

    Outdoor Learning in the Curriculum for Excellence - New Factfile

    Posted Friday, May 20, 2011

    New Curriculum for Excellence Factfile for Outdoor Learning is now available:

    The factfile provides information on Outdoor Learning in the Curriculum for Excellence and has been developed to (among other things) help teachers and schools communicate with parents and wider partners who support learning, such as employers and community organisations.


    Posted Friday, March 18, 2011

    On the 1st March we launched the energyshare fund and have up to £500,000 initially available to fund renewable energy projects. We are calling for communities to tell us about projects that they'd like to get funded. We'll support projects across the UK, and what's more this is just the beginning!

    energyshare want to support and fund as many communities as possible and with our founding partners, British Gas, energyshare is committed to distributing a further £3m to community renewable projects over the next 3 years.
    By taking part members will help to shape the way energyshare funding works in the future.
    We're also excited to be launching lots of new features on the site, including:

    A tool to log the renewable energy you are generating. We want this to be a big celebration of sustainable energy being produced across the UK. If you're generating, log your power and put your energy on the map.

    Check your energy use as an individual against the national average.

    Follow our households over the course of a year and find out how they get on with the gadgets we provide them, the challenges they're set and their video diaries!

    Plus there's improved functionality for groups, a better information database and new case studies.

    This is just the first funding round and the beginning for energyshare. By taking part you'll be helping to shape the community and the funding in the future.

    To find out more about the fund and let us know you're interested in applying, click here. We look forward to hearing about your ideas!


    The energyshare team
    Lucy Conway
    Landshare Community Manager

    Landshare - connecting growers to people with land to share.

    Follow us on twitter:

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    Download our iPhone App and start land spotting:
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    Something truly amazing is happening in renewable energy, and we want everyone to be part of it.
    Find us on Facebook:
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    Volunteering Matters

    Posted Friday, March 18, 2011

    Volunteering Matters - supporting communities, organisations and individuals in Highland

    Volunteering Matters is a new organisation being formed from a merger between CVS Inverness, CVS Nairn and Volunteering Highland from 1 April 2011. Volunteering Matters will provide support and advice to individual volunteers across Highland and to voluntary organisations and communities within the Inverness and Nairn areas.

    We are currently seeking a Chairperson and 2 additional Directors

    The Chairperson will be expected to lead the development of the new of the new organisation, ensuring that the merged companies come together in a cohesive whole and Volunteering Matters is established as an effective and respected organisation in the Highlands. This voluntary position requires an individual with experience in networking, communication and governance as well as excellent chairmanship skills. The Chair will provide support to the new Chief Executive Officer.

    It is intended that each Director of the new organisation will be responsible for leading on certain aspects of the agenda at Board level. Currently Directors representing the work of the three original organisations have been identified, as has the Director with responsibility for Finance. We now seek two further Directors. We would welcome applications from individuals with experience of one or more of the following areas: valuing volunteers and the volunteer experience; developing the potential of individuals; training and development; tendering; income generation; business development; marketing and PR; and communications.

    Applications, marked Private and Confidential, are invited in writing. Please mark the sealed envelope as either “chair” or “director” or both. Applications will not be opened and acknowledged until after the closing date.

    Please send to Johnson Swinton, Director, Volunteering Matters, 1a Millburn Road, Inverness IV2 3PX by 29 April 2011, enclosing a short CV.

    If you would like to discuss this opportunity before applying then please contact Johnson Swinton on 07411711825

    Electric Car for Sale

    Posted Friday, March 18, 2011

    The EU NPP Clim-Atic project has now come to an end and they are now selling the project's electric car openly and competitively as required by the EU funding terms. We are doing this through an eBay Open Bid and details of the car can seen at

    2004 Vauxhall Astra Electric Car with lithium batteries
    Converted to Electric by Dragon Electric Vehicles in 2009
    End date 22 Mar, 2011 20:00GMT

    To book a vehicle viewing in Aviemore on Friday 18th Friday, or for more details, contact

    The Cairngorms electric car was one part of the project, and it was the first trial in Scotland of an electric car in rural areas. Since October 2009, it was given an thorough trial by a community transport group in Badenoch and Strathspey (

    HEN Conference 2011 - PLACES AVAILABLE!

    Posted Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    Greening at Grass Roots - Empowering Local Communities
    Sat 12 March
    Fortrose Academy Community Theatre & Black Isle Leisure Centre

    Come and join us for an inspiring day of presentations and talks about how communities can make changes for the better. We are delighted to announce that we have Cllr Ian Ross, Highland Council, Lucy Conway from the Isle of Eigg and Peter Dennis of the SEAM Centre, Inverness UHI addressing the conference this year. We also have several workshops being led by the above speakers and in addition Transition Black Isle and the Grow North Project.

    Note: Lunch inluded in conference fee

    For further information, programme and booking from go to the conference page of the website or contact:
    Lara McDonald
    Project Development Officer (p/t)
    Tel: 01463 231 557 or 07807 228 213

    The Community And Renewable Energy Scheme loan fund

    Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011

    The Community And Renewable Energy Scheme loan fund was launched by Richard Lochhead yesterday.

    It is designed to cover the risk of the pre-planning stage of renewable energy projects by offering loans of up to 90% of the costs, providing there is a minimum community benefit from the project. It will be open to community groups, land managers, local businesses and co-operatives working in partnership with community groups.

    Community Energy Scotland will be delivering this fund from April. Read more on the Scottish Government Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (Loan Fund) here

    National Spring Clean 2011 - Volunteers Wanted!

    Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Wanted! Volunteers to spring clean Scotland.

    Scotland’s biggest annual litter clean up is back, and Keep Scotland Tidy needs your help! So if you are looking for a volunteering opportunity, round up some school mates, friends or colleagues, choose a location and sign up to join thousands of others picking up litter to clean up Scotland - it couldn’t be easier.

    Since 2007, almost 200,000 people have taken part in over 3,000 events over the month of April, collecting enough rubbish to fill 86,413 wheelie bins!

    Now, as National Spring Clean celebrates its 5th birthday, the campaign period has been extended so that volunteers can also carry out litter picks in the last two weeks of March and the first two of May, and already there are almost 12,000 volunteers signed up to spring clean 161 areas of Scotland.

    But, today Keep Scotland Tidy is calling out to all of you who hate litter and would like to do something positive to improve your corner of the community - we need you to do your bit and help make this the biggest and best clean up event ever.

    Donna Hegarty, Programme Manager for Keep Scotland Tidy said, “Without the commitment of the volunteers who take part in National Spring Clean every year, Scotland would definitely be a dirtier place.

    “Most of the litter that our volunteers pick up could have been recycled, helping us achieve a zero waste society, but unfortunately there are still a number of people who insist on littering.

    “By working with local authorities across the country, we hope that recycling on the go facilities and general waste bins located in key places will encourage people to dispose of their waste appropriately, while fining those caught in the act will also help to reduce littering of our streets and open spaces.

    “But until then, we need your help to keep Scotland tidy”.
    It couldn’t be easier to take part in National Spring Clean 2011. All that volunteers need to do is visit and register. A free clean up kit - containing everything you need to spruce up your local area, including black sacks, clear sacks for recyclable materials, tabards and information to support your event - will then be sent to you.

    For further information, please contact Suzanne Roberts on 01786 468236 / 07841 369 430 or e-mail

    Please visit for further information, or the National Spring Clean blog at for behind the scenes information.

    Note to the Editors
    • National Spring Clean will take place throughout Scotland from Monday 14 March - Monday 16 May 2011.
    • Full details on National Spring Clean, including an online map showing where many of the events are taking place, are available at
    • Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) is an environmental charity which fundraises to protect, preserve and enhance the environment of town and country in Scotland for the benefit of the public. Keep Scotland Beautiful administers the People and Places, Keep Scotland Tidy, Blue Flag and Seaside Award, and the Eco-Schools Scotland environmental programmes along with the Sustainable Scotland Network, Climate Challenge Fund and Going Carbon Neutral Stirling campaigns. Further information can be found at

    Compost competition

    Posted Monday, February 14, 2011

    Show off your creative talents and passion for composting -

    It does cover Scotland and is open to adults as well as schoolchildren!

    Ensuring communities benefit from Scotland's next energy revolution

    Posted Thursday, February 03, 2011

    SCVO is calling on third sector organisations to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation, ‘Securing the benefits of Scotland’s next energy revolution’ to ensure that the voice of Scottish communities is fully represented. The consultation puts forward proposals to ensure Scotland and its local communities benefit from renewable and low carbon energy developments.

    SCVO has prepared a briefing paper with further details about the consultation and encourages organisations with an interest to respond. Alternatively, if SCVO members would prefer to contribute views via SCVO’s response, please contact: by 7 February 2011. (Consultation deadline: 18 February 2011).

    Refurbished computers available to voluntary and community organisations

    Posted Thursday, February 03, 2011

    The Highland Council has entered into a contract with Fujitsu to replace its computer equipment over a 5 year period. As part of this both organisations wish to benefit the local community by distributing 7000 PC units* over the lifetime of the project through a recycling partnership with ReBOOT. ReBOOT is a computer recycling social enterprise based in Moray and a registered charity.

    Fujitsu are funding ReBOOT to provide this service and ReBOOT in turn will provide a range of training opportunities for different groups. ReBOOT are establishing a facility in Inverness to carry out this service.

    It is proposed that the refurbished machines should be available to voluntary and community based organisations operating in the Highland area. This could include charities, social enterprises, community councils and clubs or groups such as Scout or Guide groups.

    Should your organisation wish to be considered for one of the refurbished computers, please complete this short survey. The information that you provide will assist with prioritising the distribution and will be used solely for this purpose. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.

    The survey is available electronically on survey monkey and can be accessed at the following link:

    If you are unable to complete the survey electronically or know of any organisations who may wish to be considered for this programme but are not on email, paper versions of the survey can be provided by contacting the Highland Council Policy Team on 01463 702006.

    The closing date for responses is Friday 25th February.

    S2S Fair

    Posted Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Wednesday 20 April 2011
    Edinburgh Corn Exchange

    S2S is the premier event in the Scottish social enterprise business calendar. It offers attendees and exhibitors a dynamic, busy and productive environment where social enterprise organisations can meet, trade, collaborate and develop partnerships with public and private sector delegates and with each other.

    Last year’s S2S Fair saw an exciting blend of trading, workshops and networking. Over 100 exhibitors and 700 participants attended with 89% of exhibitors winning new trade and developing business leads on the day. Planning is now under way for S2S 2011 with a variety of exciting workshops and demonstrations.

    There are 10 stands sponsored by HIE available, at no cost, to Social Enterprises from the Highlands and Islands who want to represent the work they do and have strong visual impact. This year the stands are in two short rows facing each other to create a group effect.

    The organisers of S2S are also looking for organisations to do demonstrations in 'The Zone'. Previous examples have included cookery, dancing and painting. If you would like to demonstrate the work you do please let me know.

    Financial assistance towards travel and accommodation is available to Social Enterprises. To indicate your interest in taking a stand or demonstrating in 'The Zone' please email me on or call me on 01463 715 533. Please let me know by Friday 4 February.

    Wood Fuel Database

    Posted Monday, January 24, 2011

    The Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College UHI are working together with the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) on identifying people and businesses involved in all aspects of wood fuel within the park area - logs, chip or pellet production and sale, boiler and stove supply, installation or maintenance.

    They hope to produce a new map database of suppliers servicing the Park area that will be available on, as part of the wider sustainable rural communities objectives.

    If you are a business or individual, particularly those who are currently or potentially in the future, involved in any aspect of the wood fuel supply, including stove/boiler suppliers and plumbers and would like to be on this database then contact Adean Lutton at
    Tel: 01738 877 265

    Climate Challenge Fund 2011 - 2012

    Posted Monday, January 24, 2011

    The Scottish Government have proposed, in their recent draft budget, to continue the Climate Challenge Fund in 2011-12 and to increase the funding available to £10.3 million. This announcement recognises the efforts you have all made during the past two and a half years and will provide you the opportunity to apply for funds to support your organisations activities to take action on climate change.

    The Climate Challenge Fund three core criteria against which all applications, from both new and existing groups, will be measured will remain as:
    · The community must be at the heart of the decision making process of the project;
    · The funded activity should lead to significant CO­2 reductions;
    · The funded activity should result in a positive legacy for each Community.

    Communities which have previously received CCF monies will be able to apply for funding using the existing communities’ application form. The new application form and guidance document that you will need to use will be available from the 5th of January from the new Climate Challenge Fund website, The site will also provide downloadable guidance as well as links to organisations that may be able to support the development of your application.

    Training Opportunities

    Posted Monday, January 10, 2011

    SCVO's training programme features a wide range of courses as well as opportunities for flexible learning such as learning short courses, distance learning and learning blocks.

    To find out more and make bookings visit

    Get £200 off the cost of Learning with an Individual Learning Account
    If you earn £22,000 p.a. or less you could be eligible for an ILA. SCVO courses are approved for ILAs. For more information about opening an ILA visit:

    John Muir Award

    Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    John Muir Award Biodiversity Stories

    2010 was declared the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) by the United Nations. The John Muir Trust is a member of the IYB-UK 2010 partnership and has been helping promote awareness and understanding of biodiversity.

    A wide range of examples of how groups doing their John Muir Awards have engaged with biodiversity can viewed at the John Muir Award 2010 Biodiversity Stories page. ( From Scottish Borders community schools to Snowdonia outdoor centres, Wildlife Trusts to open prisons, conserve audits to fungal forays – the John Muir Award has provided a context for thousands of individual Biodiversity Stories.

    The John Muir Award encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, and is open to all. It is the main educational initiative of John Muir Trust. Support the John Muir Award by joining the John Muir Trust – as a Group or Individual

    Freelance Vacancy Argyle - Scottish Crofting Federation

    Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    A freelance administrative position is available with the Scottish Crofting Federation in Argyle.

    Mainly an admin role it does not require an in-depth knowledge of crofting. It is offered on a part-time, short-term self-employed basis, involving making the room bookings, securing local tutors for each session, maintaining accurate student records, dealing promptly with tutor invoices and adhering to the project budget.

    Payment is at the rate of £8.00/hr for 3 hrs/week for 16 weeks on the administrative work and £5.95 for 3hrs/week for 10 weeks to facilitate on each night of the course, with a mileage allowance also provided (up to a maximum of 260 miles). This means that the post-holder can also take the course should they wish, and not have to pay.

    The intention is to run the course from January to March/April, with December for preparation and finding suitable tutors. Further information is available from Su Cooper,

    Highland environmental children’s group weigh in with “significant observation” of rare sawfly

    Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    As part of their John Muir Award activity, a small but active environmental group has got involved with biodiversity by making a “significant observation” in the form of a sawfly known as Cimbex luteus*.

    Group leader Justine Robertson decided to use the John Muir Award to help young people connect with Ardersier Common, a Highland Council Site of Special Scientific Interest, “we wanted to try and understand the biodiversity of our local common and the ways in which it is used by people and wildlife alike.”

    The group aims to give children suffering from long term illness and/or disability the self confidence to tackle issues and activities designed to improve their communities and their environment.

    The young people responded well to spending time at Ardersier Common, and quickly tuned in to the nature on their doorstep, “It was amazing with all of the calls we heard, the colours that stood out in their own fashion, and the trees, and berries we picked” John, 14.

    However, it was the finding of an extremely rare ‘wee beastie’ that fired the imagination of the group. “We have found what has been described by eminent individuals, as a "significant observation" in the form of Sawfly known as Cimbex luteus, something not seen in Scotland for a very, very long time,” explained Justine.

    Murdo Macdonald from the Highland Biodiversity Recording Group was very impressed with the groups findings and has offered to give a talk to the group before the end of the year. Murdo is also a biodiversity mentor for iSpot, the website aimed at helping anyone identify anything in nature, and has helped the group share their rare finding (

    “I feel extremely proud to have our own ISPOT dedication and how so many people have taken an interest in our discovery. It was so great to be mentioned in glowing terms on the Highland Biodiversity Recording Group’s web site. I feel proud and overwhelmed that our discovery was described as a ‘significant observation’.” Jessica, 12.

    *Sawflies are insects. The adults have two pairs of wings, but unlike closely related bees and wasps, sawflies lack any obvious narrow waist between thorax and abdomen. Sawflies get their name from the female's saw-like ovipositor (egg laying appendages), which is used to cut or drill into the host plant to lay eggs usually in the plant tissue.

    Cape Farewell 2011 Expedition

    Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    Cape Farewell has brought together leading artists, writers, scientists, educators and media for a series of expeditions into the wild and challenging High Arctic. Together they have mapped, measured and been inspired by this awesome environment and have endeavoured to bring home stories and artworks that tell how a warming planet is impacting on this wilderness.

    Scotland's Islands and the Faroes
    July 2011

    In July 2011 Cape Farewell embarks on its biggest project yet, in partnership with Cove Park: a month-long expedition by boat across the Scottish islands from Oban to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and the Faroes.

    After eight journeys to the high Arctic and one to the Peruvian Amazon, we are bringing the notion and experience of expedition home to the UK, with an exploration of island ecologies and cultures, and of the strategies for sustainable and resilient futures being implemented across the Scottish Western Isles.
    Scottish Islands Project Forum
    10-12 December 2011

    Our exploration begins in December 2010 with a meeting of 40 artists, scientists, funders, storytellers and cultural leaders at Cove Park on the Rosneath Peninsula north of Glasgow. Here we meet our project partners and discuss the values and aspirations of the expedition and the nature of our engagement with local communities, arts venues and sustainability and heritage organisations. We also shape the expedition itinerary with our programme partners, with the aim of sailing, weather permitting, to Mull, Eigg, Skye, South and North Uist, St Kilda, Lewis, Orkney, Unst (the most northerly of the Western Isles), Shetland and the Faroe Islands.

    Up to 40 Scottish and international artists are joining the crew in weekly rotations of 10, along with oceanographers, marine biologists and climate scientists, on board marine mammal research vessel Song of the Whale. Our journey includes visits to remote and uninhabited islands, marine conservation areas, pioneering renewable energy projects and active engagement in festivals, community events and other cultural programmes as part of the Scottish government’s year of celebration of island cultures.

    Artists are invited to join the expedition through dialogue with our Scottish partners. The aim of the Cape Farewell/Cove Park Scottish Islands Project is to stimulate and support the creation of new works and new collaborations between artists, scientists and community and cultural organisations around the theme of climate change, resource use and resilience across Scotland’s islands.

    The expedition generates opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue, creation and performance in specific and sometimes challenging or fragile environments on both land and sea. These events and explorations are recorded in digital media by sound artists, photographers and filmmakers, and in the works of visual artists, storytellers and musicians. Beyond the expedition we aim to support artists with both financial and physical resources to enable them to continue their research through residencies at Cove Park and on the islands themselves, and to develop new works of music, theatre, storytelling, visual art and dance specifically for the islands with which they have made a connection.
    For more information go to

    Scottish Young Green List

    Posted Friday, December 03, 2010

    Do you know a young person who is passionate about all things green? Someone who works tirelessly to inspire others to action and make their green ideas a reality?

    Nominations are now open for the first ever Young Scottish Green List. If you know someone aged 11 - 25 years old that deserves to be recognised, make a nomination by midnight, Friday 14th January. Visit

    Award-winning environmental comedy, Beyond the Pole, available for pre-order now

    Posted Monday, November 29, 2010

    DVD release of the world's first global warming comedy, Beyond the Pole. Available for pre-order now on, the film follows two men (Stephen Mangan and Rhys Thomas) on their comically doomed quest to be the first unsupported, vegetarian, organic, and carbon-neutral expedition to walk to the North Pole. Beyond the Pole was recently named Best Comedy at the London International Film Festival and won the crowds over in California, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Los Angeles United Film Festival.

    Filmed in Greenland on floating sea ice in remote polar bear country, the movie also features Helen Baxendale (Friends) and Alexander Skarsgard (HBO's True Blood). The DVD release includes deleted scenes, outtakes, and a making-of video showing the fun and frantic experience of trying to film in the arctic. We really think you would enjoy the film if you haven't seen it already, and if you have, feel free to leave us a review on Amazon.

    Green Focus at SCVO Conference - The Gathering 2011

    Posted Monday, November 29, 2010

    Dear Colleague

    Next year's Gathering will take place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on 23rd and 24th February 2011. The Gathering is Scotland’s voluntary sector fair. Organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), it attracts around 3,000 visitors over two days and is the largest event of its kind in the UK.

    The Gathering incorporates an exhibition and marketplace with 90 exhibitors, as well as a packed events programme of 60 workshops and seminars led by voluntary organisations, government, the media and companies who work with and alongside the sector. There will also be launches of products and services, interactive activities, networking opportunities, entertainment and much more.

    Programme of Events
    We have a new structured programme for the 2011 Gathering to allow delegates to plan their attendance more effectively, engage with event hosts and have time to visit the ever popular exhibition and marketplace. If you are interested in hosting an event at the Gathering, please contact us (see below).
    Catriona Prebble, Green Agenda Officer
    Direct Dial: 0131 474 6174
    Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
    Mansfield Traquair Centre
    15 Mansfield Place
    Edinburgh EH3 6BB

    Exhibition and Marketplace
    We have introduced zones within the exhibition and marketplace, including a 'Green Zone'. For this we aim to get together a gathering of organisations to showcase the many green products, initiatives and solutions with which the sector is involved. It would be great if you wanted to be part of this! But please book quickly as spaces are going fast.

    Gathering Website
    For more details, check out our new look Gathering website which will keep you up-to-date with the latest news stories, exhibitors, event programme.

    If you are interested in any of the above or wish to discuss your participation at the Gathering, please contact Alex Thomson (T: 0131 474 6150; E:

    'Natural Communities' BTCV's Community Mentor programme.

    Posted Monday, November 22, 2010

    The latest CLAN Bulletin can be viewed via the link below. Thanks to everyone (especially David) who contributed to this issue.

    Social Entrepreneurs Fund Outreach

    Posted Friday, November 19, 2010

    Everyone says they want some funding
    so come and find out how to get to £5000 for a Social Enterprise Idea!
    12 - 1pm, Wednesday 1 December
    81a Castle Street, Inverness
    Are you considering applying for the Social Entrepreneurs Fund? Then this is a good opportunity for you to meet with Eileen Inglis from Scotland Unltd to talk through your application. we will have a informal introduction to the fund from 12 - 1pm where people can hear about the and ask Eileen questions, to find out if the fund is for them. Lunch provided.
    More information:
    Unltd and Firstport are trying to attract more applications from the Highlands & Islands and are looking for individuals or newly formed social enterprise organisations who are still in the start-up phase. There are two main funds are available to individuals who have great ideas and the vision, passion, drive and commitment to develop them.

    Individual one on one sessions can be booked with Eileen if you have a specific business idea in mind.
    For catering reasons you will need to let us know if you are coming so please email Lindsay on as soon as possible or call us on 01463 715 533

    Home Energy Volunteering Opportunities with FREE Training Provided

    Posted Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Alness Transition Town Group has exciting and rewarding opportunities available for Home Energy Volunteers on our Home Energy Project. If you know anyone who may be interested in helping Alness become a more sustainable community, and would like to learn new skills and help improve their CV as well as meet like-minded people then this is the opportunity for them. Hours and days are flexible.

    We will provide support and expenses as well as free training in the City & Guilds Energy Awareness Course — a nationally-recognised and accredited level 2 qualification. As a Home Energy Volunteer they will be making a real difference in the community by providing advice and information to people, as well as helping the environment by reducing our impact on climate change.

    The free training is due to take place the week commencing 22nd November in Alness, we would therefore appreciate a reply from people interested in this volunteering opportunity by mid November.

    Please do not hesitate to get in touch for more information.
    Many thanks and kind regards,

    Claire Pratley
    Home Energy Advisor
    Alness Transition Town Group
    West End Community Centre

    Tel: 01349 884896
    Mob: 07920 437526


    Theremal House Surveys

    Posted Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Dear friends,
    Would your group would be interest to offer thermal surveys to house holders to make their dwellings more energy efficient. REAP is in process to apply for funding to do such surveys. But funding may only be attracted if REAP can prove that there is demand for such a service. REAP has been doing thermal surveys for the past two years in Aberdeenshire and is keen to expand throughout the Highlands north and westwards.

    Wilf Shenk
    Energy efficiency outreach officer
    177 Mid Street
    Keith AB55 5BL
    01542 888070
    My work days are Mon-Wed
    REAP is a charity based in Keith / Moray, promoting energy efficiency and social enterprise.

    Energy Saving Week 25-31 October 2010

    Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Energy Saving Week!
    Take control and generate your own energy!

    Hello! It’s Energy Saving Week! You’ll find everything necessary to take control and start cutting your energy use at home and in how you travel. And why not enter the brilliant prize draw to win nearly £20,000 worth of Energy Saving Trust Recommended products?


    Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    THE relationships between locals, incomers and land in communities throughout Scotland and beyond will be explored in a groundbreaking conference in Edinburgh next month.
    Building vibrant communities deeply rooted in the places they live is crucial in adapting to life beyond oil. This theme will be at the heart of the two-day event ‘Transitions: Diverse Routes to Belonging’ which will feature author and activist Alastair McIntosh and Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the rapidly growing worldwide Transition movement, among others.

    People who are working in Transition initiatives or interested in building resilience in their communities, will gather for the international Transition conference at Pollock Halls on 20 and 21 November. Delegates will investigate how the challenges brought by looming energy shortages and climate change can be tackled by encouraging creative, collaborative ways of living.

    The conference is being hosted by Transition Scotland Support with the support of the Transition Network and Transition Edinburgh University.

    “Oil has become the lifeblood of how we feed, entertain and house ourselves - it’s what makes our modern lifestyles possible,” said Rob Hopkins, author of the Transition Handbook. “We are now entering the end of the age of cheap oil. That coupled with the climate change agenda means we have to rethink some very basic assumptions about how we live.”

    As well as taking practical steps, such as producing food locally and introducing currencies and trading systems to enable local economies to flourish, the Transition model recognises work to build cohesion in fragmented communities as being central to making them fit to face the future.

    This chimes fundamentally with the thinking which sparked land reform in Scotland in the 1990s. Alastair McIntosh was at the forefront of this historic movement, most famously in the run up to the landmark community buyout of the island of Eigg 13 years ago.

    “The rekindling of community is the most important form of transition that we collectively face in the world,” he said.

    “That raises the question as to how we get on with each other when we are from so many backgrounds, both native and non-native.

    “We must therefore ask whether it is possible to reground ourselves in becoming indigenous no matter where we are from and where we live.”

    The two day international event will be preceeded by the Scottish National Transition Gathering on Friday 19 November.

    For further information and to book a place go to to

    Notes to editors:
    1) For further information and high resolution pictures of the speakers contact Catriona Ross on 0782 4531942. Members of the media wishing to attend the conference should e-mail

    2) Further information on Transition worldwide see

    3) Alastair McIntosh is a Professor of the Centre for Human Ecology and author of number of studies and books, including Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power and Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition. For further information see

    Catriona Ross
    01463 871056
    0782 453 1942

    Highlands International Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference

    Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Highlands International Biodiversity and Climate Change Conference
    An Official Contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity at Inverness Council Chambers

    5 November 2010 9:00- 4:00pm,

    The Highland Council, CIFAL Findhorn, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, CNPA, Perth College UHI/Centre for Mountain Studies, Trees for Life, RSPB, Forestry Commission Scotland, Moray Firth Partnership, 2020Vision, BTCV, Marine Conservation Society, Crofters Commission, Highland Biodiversity Forum, Scottish Rural Property & Business Association, Sky and Lochalsh Environmental Forum, Highland Environmental Network, Community Woodlands Association, IUCN, and the Scottish Government are pleased to invite you to attend our major Scottish international conference in Inverness.
    For further information please visit


    Posted Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    The Highland Council is inviting responses to the consultation on the draft document “Adapting to Climate Change in Highland” . The document and consultation questions are available on the link below.

    The consultation will be open until the 31st December 2010 and responses can be sent to:

    Ailsa Villegas
    Sustainable Development Officer
    Chief Executives Office
    Highland Council
    Glenurquhart Road
    IV3 5NX

    or electronically:

    CANCELLED - Leading Environmental Projects, Dunnet

    Posted Monday, September 27, 2010

    Unfortunately, the Leading Environmental Projects training session on 4 Oct in Dunnet has been cancelled.
    If you would like to know more about HEN training events then please go to the Training Page of the website
    or contact Jenny Sleeman at BTCV on 01463 811 923 or email


    Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    The Scottish Biomass Heat Scheme (SBHS) was launched in 2008 by the Scottish Government to encourage renewable heat use by businesses and district heating demonstrators. The scheme is delivered by the Biomass Development Team of Forestry Commission Scotland. On 2 June 2010 the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment & Rural Affairs announced the final call for applications to the SBHS at a Low Carbon Economy Conference held in Dunblane

    Limited funds remain. The Final Call is addressed to any organisation across Scotland which is not eligible for either SRDP or CARES funding, for biomass heat-only installations that can complete by March 2011.

    Projects must address the SBHS aims stated in the application guidance (see our website, and clearly demonstrate that they can complete by March 2011. Priority will also be given to projects from:

    • small-medium sized enterprises in the Highlands & Islands
    • private developers for district heating schemes.

    The call will remain open until 30th September 2010 or until the funding has been allocated and closure of the SBHS announced, whichever is sooner.
    For full details and application forms see

    Job Vacancy, Admin Assitant

    Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Alness Transition Town Group, Home Energy Advise Service have a vacancy for a part time Admin Assistant.
    Deadline for applications is Monday 4th October. All details are on the website

    Tel: 01349 884896

    Have you news you'd like to share?

    Posted Monday, August 30, 2010

    HEN would like to hear from anyone who has a local news items, job vacancies and volunteer requests etc and we will post it in our News section. Also if you have an event then you'd like to see listed go to our What's On page.

    WANTED - Chance to milk a cow!!

    Posted Friday, June 18, 2010

    Somebody wishes to arrange an opportunity for their Mother to milk a cow
    for her birthday. Can anyone out there help? If so please contact Bob Bull
    on Tel. 01463 811923 or email

    BTCV - Change Programme

    Posted Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Only one week left to register for the Change Programme!
    If your organisation wishes to increase peoples' awareness and appreciation of nature and help people to lead more sustainable lives, don;t miss out on this free training.

    Change brings together Scotland's leading behaviour change practitioners to provide support and training on the most up to date thinking on engaging people to live more sustainable lives. Participating in Change will improve the way you work with volunteers, enable you to reach new audiences and help you to rethink what you are able to achieve with your volunteers. The first training workshop will run on 23rd June.

    You can find out more and register for the Change Programme on the FEVA website. Registration date is 11th June.

    For further information, contact:
    Kerry Riddell
    Development Manager (Sustainable Communities)
    BTCV Scotland
    Ellrig, High Street, Moniaive, Dumfries DG3 4HN

    01848 200381
    0782 7873773

    Kerry Riddell
    Development Manager (Sustainable Communities)
    BTCV Scotland
    Ellrig, High Street, Moniaive, Dumfries DG3 4HN

    01848 200381
    0782 7873773

    A Helping Hand to Grow Your Own

    Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2010

    A Helping Hand to Grow Your Own

    Would you like to enjoy your own food fresh from the garden? A new Transition Black Isle project, Grow North, is looking for participants. The year-long project is for Black Isle residents who wish to learn more about how to grow their own fruit and vegetables. Grow North aims to provide practical support for 50 households in learning how to grow, look after and use a range of crops that can be grown successfully on the Black Isle.

    Thinking about taking part?

    You will be able to attend 8 training days spread throughout the year, covering the basics of starting your garden, planning your site, sowing seeds, planting out, pests and diseases, caring for your crops, composting, fruit, herbs, harvesting and preserving. The training will comprise practical hands-on sessions at 3 sites around the Black Isle.

    You will be able to see the season progress at each study site, and carry the lessons learned back to your own garden. You can take home seedlings and plants that you have worked on during the training days to grow on at home.

    Detailed notes to accompany the training days, forming a growing guide
    Opportunities to network with others taking part to swap ideas and share experience.
    Practical help days

    Climate Change Event - Inverness

    Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    The Royal Society of Edinburgh is conducting an inquiry on adaptation to climate change and will be gathering evidence at Great Glen House in Inverness on 2 June.

    Also in collaboration with Highland Council and the UHI, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) is holding a competition to identify a future aspirational vision for a low carbon life in the Highlands of Scotland. For furhter information go to

    In the evening the public will have the opportunity to view stands from various organisations on what

    Project Co-ordinator Wanted!

    Posted Monday, April 12, 2010

    Transition Black Isle
    Projects Co-ordinator

    Transition Black Isle wishes to appoint a projects co-ordinator, working on a contract basis from home, for overseeing a variety of initiatives from growing food to saving energy. A knowledge of the principles of the Transition Movement would be an advantage.

    Skills required :

    CSV Action Earth 2010

    Posted Monday, April 12, 2010

    CSV Action Earth 2010
    Please find below information about the CSV Action Earth campaign which runs from 1st March until 31st July 2010. We want to empower people to take action in their community. To do this, we have two different grants to give to groups of volunteers who are carrying out local environment projects or who are improving biodiversity in Scotland. As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, there is no better time to get involved.

    1. Our SNH Biodiversity Awards of


    Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    JOINING forces to source and process local firewood has the potential to boost rural communities and cut fuel poverty.

    With oil prices erratic and on an upward curve, the case for making the most of fuel from forests in and around many Scottish communities has never been stronger.

    Sales of wood burning stoves are at record levels. By working together to supply their own homes and businesses, people have the prospect to boost the local economy and create stronger, revitalised communities.

    A free event exploring the process of setting up and running a successful community wood fuel enterprise is being held in the Cairngorms National Park on Saturday 1 May.

    The pioneering community of Laggan, which was one of the first places in Scotland to take over the running of its local woods, is the venue for the dynamic day on Setting up a Community Woodfuel Enterprise

    The Community Woodlands Association (CWA) is running the event for Clim-ATIC, an EU funded project to help rural communities in northern Europe adapt to the impacts of climate change. Clim-ATIC is working jointly the Cairngorms National Park Authority on a number of projects in the Park.

    Laggan Forest Trust is keen to set up a woodfuel enterprise itself, and event leader Jake Willis of the CWA will draw on this, and other examples, to illustrate how the so-called

    Wanted! - Community to Volunteer

    Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    A Climate Change Strategy is being developed by Highland Council. This will cover the work of all Council Services across all sectors. However, climate change impacts will vary greatly between regions in Highland. They will affect communities and individuals in different ways dependent location, knowledge and understanding, vulnerability to change and capacity to adapt.

    For this reason I am looking to find a community to work with in developing a Local Climate Change Action Plan. I would then like to use the process of developing a local action plan as a template to encourage more communities in Highland to do the same.

    If you know of a community that may be interested in taking part, then please get in touch.

    Ailsa Villegas
    Sustainable Development Officer
    Chief Executives Office
    Highland Council
    Glenurquhart Road
    IV3 5NX
    tel: 01463 702 543


    Posted Monday, March 01, 2010

    Win a weekend camping pass for one to 2010's Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival.
    Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, 6th and 7th August 2010. The Highlands' own homegrown festival of music and performing arts for all ages, now in its seventh year.

    To be able to enter, simply sign up as a delegate to this year's HEN Conference.
    On arrival to the conference you will receive and Competition entry form. All correct entries will be gathered and the winner announced at the end of the Conference.
    For further information go to our HEN Conference Page.

    Community Woodlands Association - Please Support!

    Posted Friday, February 12, 2010

    CWA Funding Ends June 2010 - Please give us your support!

    We are doing our best in this difficult climate to source new funding to continue to deliver our services. Our current funding package ends in June this year and we need our members assistance. Please consider helping us by increasing our profile to the wider public. There are a several ways that you can do this:
    Send all your friends, family and colleagues this Link to 'Wha's Like Us' the Woodland Culture Presentation by Eoin Cox, that went down a storm at the conference in November. (approx 10 mins)

    Encourage those on your own membership list, and anyone else who may be interested, to sign up for the free e-newsletter . Raise the profile of CWA, mention you are members of the Association in all your media communications
    Anyone can contribute directly using the donation button on our website.
    As a result of discussions at the AGM in November, a funding sub-group has been established to attract unrestricted funding (i.e. not linked to specific projects). You will be welcome to join the funding Sub-Group with your ideas to bring in more donations - contact me if you would like to help.

    Diane CampbellDevelopment Manager
    Community Woodlands Association
    69 St Valery Place
    Ullapool IV26 2TD

    Tel/ FAX 01854 613737
    A Company Limited by Guarantee registered in Scotland Company No: 275097 Charity No: SC038374
    Registered Office: Old Poltalloch, Kilmartin, Argyll PA31 8RQ

    COMPETITION!! Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival donate prize!

    Posted Friday, February 12, 2010

    Win a weekend camping pass for one to 2010's Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival kindly donated to the HEN Conference.

    To be able to enter, simply sign up as a delegate to this year's HEN Conference (see website for details) and on arrival to the conference you will receive and Competition entry form. All correct entries will be gathered onthe day and the winner announced at the end of the Conference.

    Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, 6th and 7th August 2010. The Highlands' own homegrown festival of music and performing arts for all ages, now in its seventh year.

    Carbon Army - BTCV

    Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010


    Contractor Required - Transition Black Isle

    Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Transition Black Isle
    Contract Notice -

    HEN Conference - Sat 6 March 2010 - FREE PLACES FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS!!

    Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Making Green The New Black - Youth & Environment. How to Connect?
    Sat 6 Mar 2010
    Highland Council Headquarters, Council Chambers, Inverness

    For 2010 HEN is planning a conference on the theme of youth and environment

    BTCV Scotland - Sustainable Communities Mentorship Programme - Regional Workshops

    Posted Monday, January 11, 2010

    Regional workshops to be held in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness are planned for the spring as part of BTCV Scotland's ongoing Sustainable Communities Mentorship Programme.

    Glasgow: 25th & 26th February
    Aberdeen: 11th & 12th March
    Inverness: 18th & 19th March

    This programme offers training and support to individuals in Scotland who want to inspire their own communities to take action on Sustainability and Climate Change and aims to develop a network of Sustainable Community Mentors throughout Scotland through a series of regional training workshops and ongoing support. There is no fee for participants; costs are covered by BTCV Scotland in partnership with the Sustainable Development Commission Scotland and the Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity.

    'Two day well spent - an enjoyable, informative and inspiring workshop'

    'Highly motivating, I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to take environmental action'

    'For anyone starting out on a project, this course should be a requirement'

    The programme starts with a 2 day training workshop which will provide participants with the skills and knowledge to raise awareness about Sustainability and communicate Climate Change in their own communities. Participants will also work on developing their own unique skills, producing Action Plans for their communities and learning tools to take forward practical Community Projects to improve the local environment and take action for a more sustainable planet.
    After the workshop, participants will receive ongoing support from local BTCV Scotland staff, installments of resources and access to national and local skills sharing and networking events.

    More information and registration forms are available here:-

    Please note the closing dates for registration: Glasgow: 12th February, Aberdeen: 26th February, Inverness: 4th March

    Do get in touch if you would like more information.

    Best wishes

    Kerry Riddell
    Development Manager (Sustainable Communities)
    BTCV Scotland
    Ellrig, High Street, Moniaive, Dumfries DG3 4HN

    01848 200381
    0782 7873773

    Crofting - Induction Courses

    Posted Monday, January 11, 2010

    Announce a 10 week part-time evening course.

    Job Vacancy - Carbon Emissions Community Worker

    Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Job Vacancy - Carbon Emissions Community Worker

    The Carbon Emissions Community Worker will establish and consolidate carbon reduction values and aspirations with the local community (i.e., the school, feeder primaries, school families, resident community groupings, local businesses and associated environmental lobby groups) through activities such as the encouragement of smart meter based consumption changes, house lagging encouragements, co-housing practices, changes in personal transport patterns, personal food buying, diet and growing patterns (e.g home growing of salads and fruit) etc. This work will be related to school study activities and initiatives (in co-operation with the Climate Change Curriculum Manager) and community learning.
    Purpose of the Post:
    The purpose of the post is to assist the REAL Community Interest Company management team to achieve its mission, to develop community linked carbon reduction opportunities: which allow for experiential and enthusiastic learning and participation to take place in fresh contexts and alternative situations that will enhance the understanding of the issues around climate change; which further promote the Curriculum for Excellence ethos, namely the creation of successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors;
    which teach about young people

    CRNS -More Than Recycling Conference and Awards, March 2010, Edinburgh - Book Online!

    Posted Friday, December 04, 2009


    Alness Transition Town - projects receive funding

    Posted Thursday, December 03, 2009

    Two major projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions in Alness have received a major funding boost this week from the Scottish Government

    Welcome to our new website

    Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    We are delighted to welcome you to our new and wonderful website.

    As part of a 2 year development programme, supported by Highland Council, we have been able upgrade our website, giving it a much more contemporary look and making far more user friendly.

    As part of this upgrade an online Environmental Directory has been integragted. The purpose of this directory is to list community groups, schools, organisations, NGO

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