Staff blog: Making Connections at Schiehallion
John Low, the Trust’s policy officer, visits Schiehallion with Alex Rowley, Scottish Labour Party MSP and colleagues
Last week, Alex Rowley MSP, and deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, along with his colleagues Jayne and Connie, took time out of their busy schedule to visit with myself and colleague Helen McDade at the Trust. Following an initial meet and greet at our Pitlochry office, we headed over to the Trust property at Schiehallion. Getting onto one of the properties we take care of is a great way for people to experience and see the value of our work first hand, while also getting a chance to see the challenges we face.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so we walked the Schiehallion foot path - built and maintained by the Trust as it manages the main access route for walkers. We explained that with more than 20,000 people a year visiting the mountain, keeping the path in good condition is a constant challenge. Something we need to publically fundraise to continue as there is limited statutory funding for footpaths in Scotland.
During our walk over the mountain we saw examples of the damage caused by red deer to the young trees on the hillside and explained how the high numbers of red deer across highland Scotland are having a negative impact on biodiversity and in particular on our native woodlands.
As we walked over the brow of a ridge on the southside of Schiehallion Alex was taken aback by the visual impact of the Calliachar and Griffin wind farms that are clearly visible above Aberfeldy. We explained that we would be opposing, at a Public Local Inquiry in November, another proposal at Crossburns beside Calliachar for a further 25 turbines. An action he fully understood - commenting on his appreciation of the Trust’s work in trying to protect wild land and wild places.
Alex was very interested in all the work of the Trust and also knew of our contribution to inclusion through the John Muir Award recognising the importance of our work to connect people with nature and to highlight its importance and value for Scotland’s health and well-being.
Meetings such as these are important to develop a shared understanding of the value of wild places. We look forward to speaking further with Alex, Jayne and Connie.
Main photo shows: from left to right, Alex Rowley, Connie Welsh, Jayne Baxter of Scottish Labour and Helen McDade, Head of Policy with the Trust.