Private-sector GI guide

Lowering project costs and managing risk are the primary drivers for US businesses adopting green infrastructure, according to a white paper by the Nature Conservatory. The document, which looks at strategies for introducing green-infrastructure into private-sector organisations, claims that companies should seek out external partnerships and properly train all staff on the benefits of nature-based solutions if a shift in culture is to take place. For more details, click here.

Scottish Land Commission creates stronger links to green network

Transforming vacant and derelict land should deliver environmental benefit to communities throughout central Scotland, the Scottish Land Commission said today (June 6).

Speaking in Glasgow at the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) forum, Commission chief executive Hamish Trench said the fair and productive use of land lay at the heart of land reform, and this included ensuring green spaces for healthy communities.

He said: “There are more than 9,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land in the CSGN area; which accounts for 78 per cent of Scotland’s total.

“The CSGN and the Commission believe this land holds huge potential to help make better places that support health and wellbeing, help boost the economy and mitigate against the challenges of climate change. In addition, by rejuvenating these areas communities stand to benefit from increased engagement and empowerment, tackling social inequalities while increasing local pride and ownership.”

The Scottish Land Commission has also agreed a concordat with the CSGN to support transformation of vacant and derelict sites. In it, the two bodies agree to:

  • Work in partnership to identify and create positive uses for vacant and derelict land
  • Recognise and promote green network/green infrastructure solutions
  • Incorporate the emerging priorities from the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce into CSGN-related strategies and plans
  • Share emerging data, analyses and market intelligence

Through the taskforce, launched last year, the Commission has a long term aim to substantially reduce vacant and derelict land in Scotland. Work is already underway to better understand the nature of the challenge, identify potential changes to policy and practice and to share experience of successful projects through demonstrator sites with the potential to be returned to productive use.

Keith Geddes, Chair of the CSGNT said;

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the Land Commission to find new and positive uses for vacant and derelict land in the CSGN area. While there was a welcome reduction in the amount of derelict land between 2017 and 2018, much remains to be done. While some of the sites will be suitable for traditional uses such as industry, commerce and housing, many will be suitable for re-naturalisation. And we are seeking to develop innovative uses for the land. In East Ayrshire, an area blighted by the remains of open cast mines, we are working with the Council to develop the East Ayrshire Council Coalfield Communities project at an open cast site between Cumnock and New Cumnock. The project will create opportunities for learning, recreation and wellbeing and has the potential to create a quality offer to attract more tourists to the area.”

The CSGN forum was held in partnership with the Commission. Its focus this year was on repurposing unused and underused spaces within the CSGN network area, which stretches from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east.

Green Space Index provides robust national quantity data

The quantity and distribution of publicly accessible green space has been mapped, for the first time, by charity Fields in Trust. The data shows that there are 216,000 hectares of public green space across the UK, but 2.6 million people live further than a 10-minute walk from their nearest space. The data will be updated annually, meaning for the first time it will be possible to track trends in the provision of parks and green spaces – and, potentially their loss to development – across the UK. For more details, click here.

International Urban Trees Research Conference - call for papers

Organisers of the International Urban Trees Research Conference have launched a call for papers to help inform their upcoming event on ‘trees as infrastructure’. They are interested in presenting either original research papers or case studies which relate to innovation; governance and planning; natural capital; or collaboration. The deadline for submissions is 26 July. For more details, click here.

Fernbrae Meadows

Fernbrae Meadows is a project funded by the SNH Green Infrastructure Fund. The project is transforming a former private golf course in South Lanarkshire into a new urban park. It will be the catalyst and centrepiece for a master planning exercise to regenerate the immediate area including new housing and access routes to the wider greenspace of Cathkin Park and the Commonwealth Games cycling facility.
The closure of Blairbeth Golf Club in 2015 was bad news for golfers and ultimately for locals, as the site became a magnet for anti-social behaviour. Following community consultations, South Lanarkshire Council applied to the Fund and got the green light for their project. The 20-hectare site has been renamed Fernbrae Meadows at the suggestion of the local community. As it borders Cathkin to the east, Fernhill to the south, and Castlemilk to the west, it has huge potential to be visited by many people and to connect hitherto distinct communities. 

Claire Thompson who is involved in the Fernbrae Meadows Friends Group said “It’s been so lovely to see the site develop over the past year, and every new addition is a pleasant surprise! It’s a beautiful, calm space, and we are so lucky to have it. I’m really looking forward to the future of Fernbrae Meadows!”

Local people are seizing the opportunity to use the park for a range of activities including health walks and school visits. Despite the project only being part complete, in spring and summer 2018, over two-dozen community events were held in the Meadows – the next event is a big summer event on 22 June.

Ian Rennick, Head of Structural Funds Projects, SNH said “It is great to have seen this project take shape and the way it has been embraced by the local community. It clearly has environmental benefits, but it has many economic and social benefits too. We’ll be promoting the lessons learned to encourage greater investment in projects of this type in future.” 
Find out more about the project