Field Notes: Conservation work parties restart on Skye
Conservation Officer Cathryn Baillie reports on the welcome return of local conservation work parties on Skye, plus an exciting new initiative aimed at visitors.
After a year of avoiding each other, it is finally time to invite people back onto the land and get some practical work done.
We held our first volunteer day last week in Strathaird, a small group of local people came and spent the day with me, clearing invasive species from some of our regenerating woodland. It was great to hear some chatter and laughter in the air after such a long period of quiet, and we achieved so much more than I could possibly hope to do alone.
The volunteers were all delighted to have some company again, and all too happy to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to removing some of the prickly heath, Sitka spruce and fuscia that is trying to establish itself in parts of our woodlands.
After a successful and enjoyable day, I am looking forward to being able to host more volunteer days in the near future. There is certainly plenty to keep us busy!
Skye conservation days
Another exciting project that we hope to launch this year is a 'voluntourism' programme. We have teamed up with local tour operator - Real Scottish Journeys - to try and address some of the issues caused by ever growing visitor numbers to our island.
We will be offering several opportunities for tour groups to visit and spend the day with us on one of our Skye properties. After a morning of walks and talks exploring the land, the wildlife, the people and the history, we will take part in some active conservation. It could be a beach clean along the spectacular Elgol coastline, or an afternoon in one of our woodlands, clearing invasive species or planting native trees.
We hope these opportunities will offer a rich and rewarding experience to those who take part, and would love to see demand for this kind of tour over take the more usual, whistle stop tour of the island’s hotspots.
More and more people are eager to give something back when they travel, and we are looking forward to being part of that movement. Skye hosts in the region of 650,000 visitors each year, imagine how much could be achieved if they all signed up to volunteer for a day!
- Find out more about Real Scottish Journeys' Skye conservation days programme.