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4 Sep 2023

Field Notes: Summer jobs on Skye

Campfires and marine litter kept our Seasonal Ranger Ben Smith busy this summer on Skye, but he still found time to take in the local wildlife.

Skye - fire signs at Bla Bheinn

Seeing the wildfires spread across other parts of the Highlands made us very conscious of the potential threats posed to our local wild land during an extraordinarily dry June on Skye.

We promoted sensible behaviour towards campfires during this particularly hazardous time by installing signs to discourage the use of open fires and developing a fire pit monitoring programme to repair the land damaged by fire pits and encourage campfires to be set in safe locations.

Skye - campfire before and after repair^ Before and after: making repairs to an unsafe firepit site

All fire pits in Strathaird have now been logged and an action plan created for each. The aim was to repair all the fire pits in areas that would be at risk of wildfire, eg. within wooded areas, peatland, or long grass. Fire pits in safe locations (eg. along the loch-side) were left, hopefully encouraging campers to use these instead.

Campfires tend to be started at dusk so we used this time to engage with visitors and promote responsible campfire behaviour. The information on fires from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code was a handy reference.

In July, we focused on the marine litter that washes up on Skye's beautiful beaches.

The quantity of plastic is quite disheartening, but with it comes opportunities! While walking the shores of Loch Slapin collecting the huge quantity of fishing net that collects along the high tide mark, numerous visitors asked what we're doing. It was a great opportunity to share the Trust’s work and highlight the issue of maritime waste.

Later in the summer, we organised a community beach clean with local schools and community groups. This will hopefully help strengthen the link between the local townships and the Trust, as well as local environmental groups such as Skye Beach Cleans and the Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum.

Skye - beach clean at Camasunary^ Cleaning up Camasunary beach with volunteers

We also worked closely with a team from Loughborough University, who came to Skye to study the quantity of sea plastics and try source its origin.

I feel lucky to have worked in such a special place this summer. One of the many highlights was watching dolphins play in Loch Scavaig, gannets hitting the water like missiles and the common seals and their pups on the rocky outcrops - just some of the diverse wildlife that lives on the land and surrounding waters cared for by the Trust on Skye.

NatureScot logo - smallerOur Seasonal Ranger role on Skye is supported by NatureScot, through the Better Places Green Recovery Fund.

Shells at Sandwood

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