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Water Voles in the City

The Greater Easterhouse Green Infrastructure (GI) project focuses on redeveloping 3 parks in the east end of Glasgow. At the heart of the project is the creation of new surface water management features, including daylighted water courses, swales and detention basins, linked to wider improvements to access, landscape and habitats. This in turn enables development of adjacent vacant and derelict land by reducing pressure in existing drainage networks.

An additional feature of the project is the presence of water voles at all 3 parks. In 2008 biodiversity officers were first alerted to water voles living in rough grasslands along the M8 in Easterhouse. Surveys carried out in partnership with the University of Glasgow revealed a nationally significant population of water voles in parks and greenspaces where grass had been left to grow long – including sites over 1km away from the nearest water course.

Water voles have declined by over 80% across the UK in recent years, so it was a huge surprise to find such a large population thriving in a dense urban areas. Water vole burrows are protected by law – and it is a criminal offence to disturb them without a licence from SNH. For the Greater Easterhouse GI project this has meant trapping and relocating animals from the areas to be re-landscaped – and creating new, permanent grassland and wetland habitat. The challenge now is to ensure ongoing conservation management of this unique grassland population in an area earmarked for significant development and regeneration.

Water vole burrow at Cranhill Park. Scott Ferguson

 

Angus MacDonald MSP hails success of Grangemouth Green Roof project

Angus MacDonald SNP party member for Falkirk East enjoyed a trip to a green roof opposite CalaChems reception on the 16th of April. Angus was joined by John Walker (CalaChem Building and Estates Manager), Suzanne Burgess (Buglife Scotland Manager) and Christopher Langton (from Bauder) to discuss the importance of green roofs and other green infrastructure for wildlife and people.

CalaChems green roof is over 140m2 in size and was installed in May 2015 through the Glorious Green Roof project with funding from HLF and EU life funds through EcoCo. This Inner Forth Landscape Initiative project has helped to create a stepping stone for wildlife allowing them to move and mix across the area of Grangemouth. Last year wildflowers on the roof including Kidney vetch, Thrift and Oxeye daisy provided forage for bumblebees, butterflies and even 7-spot ladybirds! An Oystercatcher also nested on the roof!

As well as providing habitat for wildlife at roof level, green roofs have a number of other benefits, including cooling the building in summer and insulating it in winter, reducing noise pollution and flooding, as well as increasing the lifespan of the roof!

Angus MacDonald MSP enjoyed his visit to the biodiverse roof and learning how it is benefitting the local area as well as CalaChem. This spring we will add extra wildflowers that will provide further forage opportunities for bees and other pollinators.

Photograph by Iain Sinclair

Incorporating quality green infrastructure into quality greenspace.

Having spent nearly £15m improving homes at  Moss Heights, Cardonald, Southside Housing Association realised that environmental improvements to the greenspace around these homes was a missing piece of a jigsaw. The open space around the Moss Heights blocks of flats was barren, uninspiring and dominated by cars.

So, working with the local residents we developed the idea for a Community Park with new paths, safe play facilities separated from cars, a food growing area, community use spaces, a rich range of plants and flowers, and innovative raingardens designed to manage rainfall and surface water. We are delighted that we have been able to pull together a funding package which will allow us to deliver this project in the near future.

The local residents have been key to the development of the vision for the park, and we have supported them to establish a ‘Friends of the Halfway Community Park’ network to oversee the improvements to the neighbourhood.

Pauline Fletcher, Community Initiatives Manager at Southside Housing Association.

Current masterplan for Halfway Community Park

   

Natural Play and Woodland Planting                                                 Newly pedestrianised zone, with raingardens along the left hand side to manage rainfall.                       

Greening the Grey

The University of Glasgow have been working on a NERC Integrated Green Grey Infrastructure Funded project called Greening the Grey, with the aims of addressing gaps in the knowledge of how we green the parts of our cities and towns that need to remain grey for their primary function like seawalls, pavements and bridges. The project report has recently been completed. 

This report has several key features: 

  • The first UK synthesis of measures that can be used to green grey non-building assets such as bridges, coastal flood alleviation structures, street furniture and linear assets like railways. 
  • It provides an evidence-based directory of measures that can be used to help Green the Grey, drawing on the latest scientific research and innovations in practice from around the UK and beyond. 
  • Historic, urban, mowing and coastal environments are covered including 14 case studies, 22 one page Art-of-the-Possible examples and 16 bite sized Art-of-the-Possible vignettes. 
  • A critical success factors framework has been created to evaluate the multifunctional benefits of green grey solutions compared to business-as-usual grey engineering options. 
  • The framework has been used to provide cost-benefit comparisons for the case studies and art-of-the-possible examples. 

The report can be downloaded in different formats:

The project will be continuing for another 12 months to help embed the Greening the Grey/ Integrated Green Grey Infrastructure (IGGI) concept within organisations and learn how it has been helpful in informing policy and practice.   

Scotland’s towns and cities are more green than grey

The State of Scotland’s Greenspace report, recently published by greenspace scotland shows that Scotland can rightly claim to be a nation of green towns and cities. Urban Scotland is more green than grey, with greenspace covering over half (54%) of the urban land area.

The total area of greenspace in urban Scotland is 1,593 square kilometres – that’s equivalent 22 Loch Lomonds or one-third of the area of the Cairngorms National Park. At a more human scale, that translates into a tennis court sized area of ‘publicly accessible’ greenspace per person.

The State of Scotland’s Greenspace report provides data on the amount and type of greenspace for all of urban Scotland. It also examines changes and trends in people’s use and attitude to greenspace, and looks at the resourcing of Council parks and open space services.

Key findings include:

  • Scotland’s towns and cities are more green than grey – 54% of the urban land area is greenspace
  • The total area of urban greenspace is 1,593 square kilometres – equivalent to 22 Loch Lomonds
  • This equates to 27 hectares of greenspace per 1000 people (excluding private gardens) – equivalent to a tennis court size of greenspace per person
  • 28% of greenspace is classified as private gardens and grounds, with amenity greenspace making up a further 37% - together these two types account for two-thirds of Scotland’s greenspace
  • Public parks and sports areas (which are the accessible public spaces most often used in daily life) account for 4% and 9% of greenspace respectively
  • Scots love their parks and greenspaces - with over 90% saying it is important to have greenspace in their local area
  • Urban greenspaces are popular outdoor destinations - with nearly half (43%) of urban Scots visiting their local greenspace once a week or more often (but frequency of use has fallen from a peak in 2009 when nearly two-thirds (63%) visited weekly)
  • Whilst most respondents (74%) were satisfied to some extent with the quality of their local greenspace, 40% agreed or agreed strongly that ‘the quality of my local greenspace has reduced in the past 5 years’ (up from 33% in 2011 – and rising to 50% for respondents from the most deprived areas)
  • The falls in greenspace quality and use, mirror falls in expenditure – with Council expenditure on parks and greenspace falling from £27,814 per 1000 people in 2010/11 to £21,794 in 2015/16

 

The full report can be downloaded here.