Did you know that Scotland has declared a climate emergency?
Would you reduce how much meat you eat?
Would you give up your car to help stop climate change?
Would you switch to renewable energy for your house?
On Thursday 10th October Green Hive will facilitate an engagement event where we are inviting the public to come give us their thoughts on how they feel about what Scotland is doing and what they think Scotland needs to do going forward to combat the global issue of climate change. These events will be held across the length and breadth of Scotland and we hope you will come along and have your say. Everyone is welcome! Bring your pals, bring your Gran, bring your chess club. You don’t need to know anything about climate change to join in the discussion – we are looking to hear opinions from everyone regarding changes that will affect all of us.
The Scottish Government are setting world leading targets to be the first country to reach net-zero emissions by 2045. Reaching our targets must be a shared, national endeavour involving people in their schools, workplaces and communities as well as government. The views you share at these conversations will help the Scottish Government develop a new public engagement strategy that will help Scotland transition to a greener and more sustainable society that we can all be proud of.
Keep an eye out for further information about these events which will be available on twitter @ScotGovClimate in the coming weeks.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the event in Nairn, and email ClimateChangeEngagement@gov.scot with any enquiries about the wider programme of consultation and policy development. Thank you!
We’re fast approaching the end of the season for Balsam Bashing – a massive thank you to everyone who has helped out and spent time clearing Himalayan Balsam this year, the Riverside and surrounding area looks completely renewed after all your hard work!
Green Hive volunteers working alongside Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) have managed to clear over 2 acres of balsam from our banks!
We would also like to thank James the SISI co-ordinator for taking time with us to train and demonstrate various methods for invasive species removal. You can have a read through the “species spotlight” on Himalayan Balsam on the Summer 2019 SISI newsletter here
In the next couple of weeks the balsam plants will have ripened their seed pods, making removal very difficult due to the seed pods method of explosive distribution. So, in preparation for next year’s activities – here’s a little about Himalayan Balsam and my top five tips on Balsam bashing!
A wee bit about Himalayan Balsam
Himalyan Balsam is a bonnie but aggressive invasive species to Scotland – if you have taken a walk along the river side in the last few months you would have noticed large thickets alongside pathways, growing up from the banks of the river and hemming out most other plant life.
The Royal Horticultural Society gives us some history and background on the plant itself:
Introduced to the UK in 1839, Himalayan balsam is now a naturalised plant, found especially on riverbanks and in waste places where it has become a problem weed.Himalayan balsam tolerates low light levels and also shades out other vegetation, so gradually impoverishing habitats by killing off other plants. It is sometimes seen in gardens, either uninvited or grown deliberately, but care must be taken to ensure that it does not escape into the wild.
In small amounts this plant can be controlled and doesn’t necessarily pose a danger to ecosystems, however if left unchecked balsam can take over large areas. This can lead to a lack of biodiversity with few plants – such as nettles – able to survive amongst the dense jungle of stems.
The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) have provided this insightful infographic which shows the impact of large scale Himalayan Balsam growth – Himalayan Balsam Infographic
Balsam is easy to spot when out and about, each stem can grow up to 10 feet in height with the flowers clustering at the top of the plant.
Flowering occurs between June and September with pink, purple and sometimes even white flowers which look similar to orchid blossom. Shortly after the flowers have bloomed, seed pods appear and ripen which explode on touch, dispersing up to 7m away from the plant – each plant can produce 800 seeds!
Himalayan Balsam seeds can stay dormant for up to two years and if carried into a river course, beause of the buoyancy of the seed pods, balsam can establish itself all along the banks of rivers and surrounding areas with ease.
So what is Balsam Bashing?
Green Hive are working in partnership with the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) to help educate and train volunteers in spotting and removing invasive species such as Himalayan balsam, giant hogweed and japanese knotweed.
As well as providing help and advice SISI co-ordinators like James actively look for local volunteers to survey and remove balsam up local river courses, you can find information on their volunteering events here and keep an eye on our Facebook for updates on local SISI events.
Balsam Bashing is a quick an easy way to remove balsam without the need for specialist equipment or weed killers. You don’t need permission or any special licence to go balsam bashing, and you’ll quite often find me standing by the side of a path, pulling out errant stems on my way home from the Hub.
The roots of Himalayan balsam are very shallow and the stem of the plant is hollow, making the plant easy to remove from the ground. Personally I find the sound of the stem snapping very satisfying and the entire experience becomes very moreish.
To uproot the plant, grab the stem and try to pull the plant out from the roots – try to get down to the lowest node on the stem to guarantee the plant will not regrow.
If you are conscious of bees and buzzing insects, I recommend giving the plant a little shake first to dislodge any fuzzy friends.
When you are finished clearing a section, make sure to pile up your balsam – the best course of disposal is through letting the plant degrade naturally but you will need to ensure the root cannot catch hold in the ground.
When piling up your balsam be aware of your surroundings, because the plant will start to degrade naturally the area can end up a bit messy for a couple of months – so when you are making your piles, try to do so off to the side of any access paths and roads.
It’s always a good idea to check the area after a couple of weeks for any regrowth or missed areas, it’s always nice to watch nature creep back into your cleared space. I was able to spot stands of knotweed that had previously been hidden away by balsam – that will be the next to go!
Top Five Tips for Balsam Bashing!
Location, Location, Location
Once you have located a patch of balsam that you are thinking of clearing, check around the area for any hazards such as; brambles, unstable divots (rabbit burrows), loose riverbank sides, nettles, dog poo and any other human refuse.
I recommend putting on a good pair of boots and a waterproof jacket (maybe even trousers too!) and shielding your hands from nettle stings with a pair of gardening gloves.- you will be comfortable and dry no matter what the weather!
Keep your Riverside beautiful
As you clear through the balsam, I find it easiest to gather the uprooted plants into a pile – just be careful not to block off access to footpaths and try to ensure that there is no risk your uprooted stems can fall into the river, where they can release their seeds and spread further downstream.
Teamwork is Dreamwork!
Pulling balsam stem by stem is not too challenging, but sometimes it can be a daunting challenge to clear all by yourself, bring along some friends and make a day of it! We co-ordinate events with SISI and our volunteers, pop down to the Hub and find out what we have going on!
Don’t stop de-leafing…
Take time to appreciate your impact once you are done bashing for the day, it can be a bit overwhelming when you are in an area that is overgrown with balsam plants, especially if you are out by yourself! You can do a lot of good in little bursts over the course of a couple of months, and it’s really rewarding watching the balsam disappear and the native habitat rejuvenate.
Green Hive and SISI have a program of workshops focusing on other invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed – so if you didn’t get a chance to bash some balsam, you can try your hand at one of our volunteering events coming up!
Keep up to date on upcoming events by signing up to our newsletter here
We have taken occupancy of a unit in the Balmakeith industrial estate and are turning this big empty space in to a creative upcycling centre for the Nairnshire Community. Specialising in the reforming of plastic, we hope to offer another option to consider, before recycling or landfill.
But we need your help to get this space up and running! We are on the look out for some very specific items to help fit out our upcycling and plastic reforming workshop. If you think you can help with a donation of any of the items on our workshop ‘Wish List’ please get in touch, and we would be more than happy to give you, or your business a mention on our donors hall of fame. View our wish list and get in touch with Andy if you can help.
Despite the rain there was a great feeling, engagement from local people and lots of positive feedback. From Green Hive’s perspective the day certainly boosted volunteer support for the riverside invasive species project and our engagement with people living in Queens Park, which surpassed what we were hoping to achieve when we originally thought of having a family day at the park. A fantastic £250 has been raised for future work in Riverside Park and that all certainly couldn’t have happened without the support from other local groups.
We want to say a big thank you to all who came together and made it possible:
Nairn Boys’ Brigade and Girls Association
Nairn & Nairnshire Community Planning Partnership
The Highland Council
Forres and Nairn District Welfare FA
High Life Highland
Scottish Invasive Species Project
Nairn Connects BID and the food vendors; Swansons, Morton’s Sweet Shop, Forbes Farm Fresh & Capaldis ice cream van
And all of the volunteers who turned out, set up and made everyone feel so welcome. With special thanks to Darren Duff for transporting all of the kit and Scott Main Millar for stepping in to the role of goalie at the last minute!
The Riverside Fun Day was a pilot to try out a partnership approach to developing the park, so your perspectives will be really helpful going forward. Please comment on this post or email Kirsty to share your thoughts on the day. Your feedback will be shared at the next Places and Spaces NNCP meeting where the group will consider what happens next in our work at Riverside Park.
Andy is passionate about working with recycled materials and as Enterprise Project Officer is helping Green Hive to set up our remaking workshop in Nairn. He studied a Masters in Fine Art Sculpture and has been a sculptor for over a decade. He believes creative making can have a positive cultural and environmental impact on our community.
Caroline has returned to Nairn, her childhood home town, after living for ten years in Glasgow. The natural world inspires her to create and nurture bonds, especially the Queenspark river side where she grew up playing on the banks of the River Nairn. She hopes that through her work with Green Hive, Nairn’s natural environment can be accessible for everyone, regardless of their circumstances.
‘New friends and natter’
Friday 5th July
Friday 19th July
Green Hive Hub, Links Studios, Grant Street, Fishertown, 10am-1pm
Open doors at our hub space, a chance to socialise with other Green Hivers, have a nice cuppa and some cake. All welcome.
Bumblebags Sewing Group
Saturday 6th July
Saturday 3rd August
Green Hive Hub, Links Studios, Grant Street, Fishertown at 11am
Take part in our sewing group at the Green Hive hub, upcycle unwanted fabric to create reusable bags to be donated to local shops to reduce the number of plastic bags used in Nairn. Learn new skills and meet some new people.
Nairn River Invasive Species Project
Himalayan Balsam pulling
Saturday 20th July
As part of the Riverside Fun Day, meet at the Green Hive stall at Riverside park at 12pm
Volunteers will be supported by trained members of the SISI and Green Hive teams and all protective clothing and equipment will be provided.
Riverside Fun Day
Saturday 20th July
Family friendly fun activities, nature trails and sports (more below).
Community Orchard Day
Sunday 21st July
Sunday 25th August
Meet at Viewfield Community Orchard at 12.30pm
Lend a hand to keep the community orchard maintained and thriving. Tools and gloves provided and no experience necessary, just come along and join in.
Saturday 20th July 12pm-3pm at Riverside Park, near the Jubilee Bridge
Green Hive, the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Partnership and other local community groups with an interest in the Riverside Park are joining together to provide a free and accessible afternoon of activities.
Green Hive’s recent survey in Queens Park highlighted that the Riverside Area, including the play spaces and football pitch, were of value to the local residents.It was apparent that people wanted to see more done to improve play spaces and promote a stronger sense of community. As part of the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, working to reduce species such as giant hogweed from our riverbanks, Green Hive was already planning a volunteer day inviting members of the public to help clear Himalayan balsam plants from the woodland area along the riverside.
“The idea for a fun day was suggested in a few survey responses. So it seemed like a good idea to turn our volunteer day in to a family friendly activity and invite other groups to join us to make this day a riverside park community event. Other groups such as Nairn PLAY, the Mill Road allotments, the Forres and Nairn welfare football league and Highlife Highland have been keen to become part of it and we’ve developed a really good network of people that all have an interest in seeing a flourishing riverside environment that provides a safe space to play and explore nature.”
– Kirsty Ellen, Green Hive Development Officer
The Nairn and Nairnshire Community Planning Partnership (NNCP) is made up of people from the local council, health, police, fire, voluntary and leisure/culture/wellbeing services, striving to improve access to public services and promote equality.
“We believe that community members should play an active role in shaping the future development of services and spaces in Nairnshire. As a Partnership, we hope to see a great attendance on July 20th, with many people engaged with the activities and groups present. We hope to gather community perspectives on how the Park should be developed during the event and to feed these insights into our Partnership planning and future actions.”
– Rhona McNicol, NNCP Community Engagement Officer
Support for resources for the day will come from the Boy’s Brigade, St Ninian’s Church and Highland TSI who are lending a marquee, tables and chairs and notice boards, the Highland Council with bins and extra park maintenance and Nairn BID to coordinate food vendors.
“So it’s a real community effort for this day to take place.” – Kirsty Ellen, Green Hive Development Officer
“The Riverside is Common Good Land administered by local members and The Highland Council.There is a need to improve the facilities in this area especially for the use of our citizens.We will be having some fun on the day but also seeking the views of locals concerning how they would wish to improve this area for the benefit of all. It would be good to develop a plan for the improvement of existing facilities and ensure they are maintained for the future.” – Cllr Tom Heggie
Engagement activity – The event is the first part of working together with the Places and Spaces group of the Nairn and Nairnshire Community Planning Partnership. We intend to help each other enhance the riverside area and gain support from the wider community to develop activities and possibly annual events. During the day there will be the chance to find out more about the plans by Nairn PLAY and the Welfare League. There will also be the opportunity to contribute your ideas and express what you hope to see happen at the riverside park. If you are part of a community group that uses this area get involved by contacting Cllr Tom Heggie
Parking is limited so please walk if you are able to. The car park by the Jubilee will be closed to vehicles and the car park by the football field will be open with preference for disabled users.
Inflatable kick darts
River dipping and nature trails
Himalayan Balsam conservation activity
Mill Road allotment’s open day and treasure hunt
Highland cycle ability bikes
Fire Scotland fire engine
Youth led sports and games
There will also be food vendors where you can buy snacks and lunch
Anyone living in the postcode area IV12 can join NRE and have their say.
Anyone, aged 16 and over, can become a member of Nairn River Enterprise.
It is both a Company Limited by Guarantee and a charity, so any surplus must be ploughed back into running services.
People who join up do not have to pay anything. No member will have ANY financial liability except for £1 should NRE go bust.
A Board of Directors elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) oversee things on members behalf.