On my first day as Communications and Involvement Manager for Cairngorms Connect, I got lost in heavy rain and turned up late and soaking wet. It was a bad start, to what could have been a bad first day - but this omen couldn’t have been more wrong.
My first few weeks have been utterly brilliant, as I’ve spent getting to know some of the people and places which make up the 60,000 hectares Cairngorms Connect area. At RSPB Abernethy reserve, we crossed burns spilling into ancient forestry, and discussed forestry management and rare sightings of pine martens under dripping anorak hoods. We visited the tree nursery where downy willow saplings were waiting to be transported up the mountain, as part of a project to restore the montane willow population on the slopes above Loch A’an.
Image (above): Burn at RSPB Abernethy spilling out into the forest, slowing the course of water.
At Wildland Cairngorms, hen harriers and golden eagles flew overhead as I marvelled at the native woodland creation at Glentromie. It reads like a landscape in transition – one which reveals the past through its still-visible bare hills and offers a glimpse into the future through the millions of native saplings which are slowly but surely conquering. Alongside tree planting and natural regeneration, Wildland Cairngorms is endeavouring for better access to these areas through the creation of all access management tracks, in a practical acknowledgement that people and nature do not live-in isolation from each other.
Image (above): Tree planting at Glentromie, WildLand Cairngorms.
At Forestry and Land Scotland’s Glenmore Forest Park, we ambled past mountain bikers and through ancient forest and blaeberry bushes to the invisible boundary between RSPB Abernethy and Forestry and Land Scotland’s Glenmore. Neither wildlife nor people would notice this boundary, just as Cairngorms Connect looks at the bigger picture: landscape-scale habitat restoration and bringing together connecting landowners in its vast and ambitious vision.
Over slightly damp sandwiches and flasks of tea on the shores of An Lochan Uaine, we talked about managing for visitors, and how human recreation and nature can fit side by side.
Image (above): An Lochan Uaine, Glenmore, Forestry and Land Scotland.
Over a socially distanced ramble through NatureScot’s Invereshie Forest, I saw trees which had been winched over, as part of the work to restore a healthier forest through deadwood creation and more natural structuring. These are important feature of a healthy ecosystem, and the ground was teeming with insect life, in a vivid representation of the phrase “life after death”.
Image (above): Trees winched over to create a restore a more natural forest. Invereshie Forest, part of Invereshie & Inshriach National Nature Reserve, NatureScot.
Over the next coming weeks, I’ll be further exploring the Cairngorms Connect area, meeting more people from all four partners (Wildland, Forestry and Land Scotland, RSPB, and Nature Scot) and beyond. My job will involve working across the partnership to communicate the relentless optimism of Cairngorms Connect, and involve many people in the ambitious habitat restoration work, made possible by funding from the Endangered Landscape Programme.
Stay connected to Cairngorms Connect via Twitter and Instagram.
Got a question or want to chat more about opportunities to be involved with the partnership? Contact Sydney at email@example.com
Main image: Sydney Henderson, Communications and Involvement Manager for Cairngorms Connect. Credit: Paul Jepson
In January 2021, my university tutor informed me that ‘normally, there is an option to spend a trimester on a professional placement’. I didn't need to hear more; this was the dream opportunity I was waiting for! It was a challenge I accepted in the middle of a pandemic – but here I am, working with the Cairngorms Connect team as an Assistant Monitoring Officer intern.
Staff from Cairngorms Connect and Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) celebrated Moth Night (8-10 July) with a mothing training session for partnership staff and the CNPA Kickstart Rangers.