“I’ve always enjoyed conservation but, just as important to me, is encouraging people to connect to nature.” Conservation Officer Alexandra Hoadley has been reflecting on her two years with Fife Coast & Countryside Trust and her important community engagement role with the Lyne Burn Project in Dunfermline.
The project’s first phase was to restore the burn to a more natural condition – following man-made changes – by reinstating its meanders, which has been achieved thanks to SEPA’s Water Environment Fund. Next has been improving greenspaces along its corridor by planting trees, orchards, hedgerows and wildflower areas to encourage pollinators and provide an enjoyable space for locals.
“It’s been such rewarding work as we’ve been able to do it all hand-in-hand with the community,” says Alexandra. “We’ve worked with schools, community groups, businesses and individuals. In the past two years we’ve engaged with around 500 adults and children and planted 2000 trees and 2000 bulbs.
“We planted 50 trees with pupils at Touch Primary School marking 50 years of the school. We have also run sessions with local Scout Groups where some scouts were planting their first trees as part of the project! We planted an orchard with Touch Community Garden and the 40th Fife Scout Group and we set up a butterfly survey route so volunteers can count butterfly numbers.”
Undoubtedly the pandemic posed a challenge, but one that was largely overcome by offering outdoor workshops and guided walks. The most recent was wild garlic planting in Rex Park. But now indoor workshops can take place such as how to attract wildlife to your garden – one participant has even been motivated to create her own pond!
“Some people return to our events three and four times. They’ve got to know each other, and we’ve got to know them which makes for a lovely team effort on volunteer days,” says Alexandra.
Under the Lyne Burn Green Network, FCCT works with many partners such as Butterfly Conservation and the British Trust for Ornithology. And the project is grateful for donations of trees and plants from businesses, schools and community groups.
Alexandra says: “We are already seeing wonderful wildlife using the burn. A mother duck and ducklings and a kingfisher have been spotted. People have told us it’s their favourite walk now.”
She has also created guided walks in Pittencrieff Park with Fife Council’s Community Development Worker (Gaelic) Kirsty Strachan that connect people to nature and trees and explore their Gaelic heritage. These events are funded by the Wellbeing Through Heritage Project which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing following the pandemic.
And a big part of Alexandra’s role at FCCT has been to manage conservation at Birnie & Gaddon Lochs near Collessie, which are home to a huge range of bird and plant species. She’s worked with local volunteers to manage vegetation, encourage wildlife and most recently to refurbish the 20-year-old bird hide. “Many of the volunteers have been volunteering at the site for over 10 years and have built up great knowledge,” she acknowledges. “I’d like to thank all the partners and volunteers I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my two years at FCCT.”
FCCT Head of Conservation and Engagement, Sarah-Jane Latto, said: “Alexandra has been a wonderful team member and colleague and it’s been a joy to work with her on various conservation and community projects throughout Fife. She will be missed within the team but we all wish her the very best with her new adventures across the Firth of Forth.”
Alexandra moves on to Edinburgh City Council as a Greenspace Development Officer (Ecology). The Lyne Burn Project continues so keep an eye on FCCT’s website and social media for updates.