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Freshwater Lochan Survey Project Completed!

As you explore Coigach and Assynt you can’t help but notice the enormous amount of freshwater lochans; it’s no wonder that this is an important habitat for wildlife but also a large attraction for visitors and anglers. Many a photographer, artist and ecologist have flocked to the area to see the beautiful views the lochans enhance and the wildlife they sustain. Within Assynt alone, angling has been found to be worth £345,840-£432,300 per annum to the community. Even with this being the case the freshwater lochan habitat is little understood, often impacting on the management of the lochan system and could cause biodiversity loss or even a reduction in fish stocks. West Sutherland Fisheries Trust identified this as a problem and working with Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership have increased the understanding of what the current situation in our lochans is. The findings have now been gathered into a report and will help devise future management plans. Dr Shona Marshall from WSFT and a team of 12 volunteers and staff set out to carry out the research over 2018/19

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The Big Climate Fightback: Tree Planting at Little Assynt

Guest Blog by Alison Roe   Saturday 30th November Quinag looms high on the horizon, glowing gently in the afternoon sun as I pull into the car park by the tree nursery at Little Assynt. I’m here for the tree planting event, organised by CALLP in partnership with The Woodland Trust, and we’re definitely lucky with the weather. Rain and high winds are forecast for the coming week but today it’s beautiful – cold and clear – a great day to be outside and good conditions for planting trees. The area to be planted is just a few minutes walk along the path from the car park: a little hollow open to the east with views over to Quinag. Even though I’ve arrived quite early, there are already quite a few folk busy with spades, with Elaine on hand to explain what to do. I comment on the beauty of the location. Elaine explains that they chose this particular spot for its easy access and for its suitability for planting: it’s not too steep and is mostly grass and bracken

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Monthly Volunteer Day Update

This year CALL have been running a monthly volunteer day. Each month we get together and spend a few hours helping one of The CALL projects. Our first in January unfortunately was called off due to snow and ice. The plan was to start the year with a litter pick in Culag Wood and enjoy a gentle walk. Not quite to plan but there were some beautiful views with the snow. It was a fantastic day for our second event. Again, in Culag Wood (after a slight change of plan from being at Little Assynt), we were clearing some of the Sitka Spruce saplings to use for wildlife platforms. Thank you to the volunteers that came and joined me, we managed to get enough wood in record speed! Unfortunately, March’s event was cancelled due to myself, being ill and unable to run the event! Apologies from me. So, let’s look forward to April where we will have two volunteer days. 11th April 2-4pm Beach Cleaning in Culag Woods down the Higgledy Piggledy Path. 25th April 10am – 1pm Monthly Volunteer

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Volunteer Training at Achlochan

This week we ran a 2-day course for the Achlochan Project volunteers to get trained in using brush-cutters and strimmers. This course was LANTRA accredited and covered maintaining the machines as well as safe usage. All the trainees passed and now are qualified to use strimmers and brush-cutters to help maintain the Achlochan site. Although the weather was brisk, we had a great time and managed to clear a whole field of reeds between us! It was amazing how much ground we could cover in the time. Photos of progress and after below! This training was funded through the Achlochan Project. This project is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, EB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Pilgrim Trust, Robert Kiln Charitable Trust plus individual and community donors.

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Demonstration crofts in Coigach & Assynt

We will be looking for enthusiastic and forward-looking crofters to take up the demonstration croft opportunity. The croft selection will be done in a competitive and transparent way. Croft development will be guided by an agreed plan and implemented by a combination of training event, the crofter him/herself, a development budget, and funding through rural payments schemes. Do you want to develop your croft?  Would you be willing to share your experiences and knowledge to help Coigach/Assynt crofters?  Many crofters have said that they’d like to see some crofting development happen in our area, so CALLP have put aside funding to have one croft in each area used as a base for demonstrations, training and advice.  Suggestions so far have included: Benefits of lime and fertiliser advice on bracken and rush control access to AECS and CAGS and other schemes and all other ideas are welcome. A few meetings (by arrangement) a year would be held on the croft, and other than some labour and willingness to try things out, there would be no cost to the host.  It is

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Crofting Project – maximising the opportunities available to crofters

Crofting exists in areas where agricultural production and investment costs are traditionally high. It is widely regarded as a socially, culturally and environmentally important activity, for the sense of identity it provides, the landscape it produces and the systems of communal working it supports. The aims of this project will be to provide practical training events and sharing of knowledge facilitate the sourcing of appropriate advice and support for crofters establish two demonstration crofts across the Coigach & Assynt area provide a community mapping assistance and use GIS technology help/advice on bracken/rush control access to AECS/CAGS and any other schemes If you would like further information on the project and how it could help you please contact Anne Campbell, Crofting & Rural Projects Coordinator, by email at aacampbell@coigach-assynt.org or call 01571 844 638 or 07799494271

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Tree Planting on Isle martin

Last week we held a tree planting session on Isle Martin. 1000 trees were taken by boat to our beautiful community island and planted by volunteers from John Muir Trust and the local community. It was a fantastic day with brilliant weather, all be it too hot! A mixture of native trees from locally sourced seed at Little Assynt Tree Nursery including Eared Willow, Hazel, Birch, Scot’s pine, Dog Rose, Oak, Juniper and Aspen were planted to create a new woodland. the terrain was hard work and the weather didn’t make it any easier, but all the trees were planted at their new home and the experience was enjoyed by all. Especially when ice creams were bought out at lunchtime by an Isle Martin volunteer to cool everyone off! A big thank you goes out to all those who helped on the day, the John Muir Trust volunteers and the Isle Martin Trust and volunteers. Trees were provided through the Woodland Project managed by the Woodland Trust Scotland.   Don’t worry if you couldn’t make it this time, there will

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The Start of Something

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust, from 6th June 2017. After four years of preparation I can’t believe the path work on Suilven has flown by so quickly. Arran Footpaths have now finished this year’s work on the higher sections of Suilven while A.C.T. Heritage are half way through their work on the lower path. It feels like it’s all whizzed by in a storm of activity and action but that’s quite often the way with path work – once contractors are on site it’s all hands on deck and a race to the finish. But it’s also felt like a real privilege to be involved with the whole process and spend more time out there, getting to know Suilven. Spending more time lower down on Suilven I’ve noticed things that I’ve just walked past before, chiff chaffs singing from trees near the start of the path, primroses in flower a bit further along, birch, rowan and aspen growing from inaccessible ledges and gullies and Merlin calling flying over the Bealach. It’s easy

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Planting starts in huge ecosystem restoration

Guest blog by George Anderson, PR & Communications Officer for Woodland Trust Scotland (originally published on the Woodland Trust website) Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Scheme (CALL) is a unique partnership working to enhance the natural, built and cultural heritage of one of the UK’s most spectacular landscapes. We are handling the forestry component and we are delighted to say the first trees have gone into the ground. CALL’s area covers 635 square kilometers and has a population of 1,200. Some of our most enigmatic mountains are within the patch which boasts: 1 national scenic area 3 special areas of conservation 2 special protection areas 8 sites of special scientific interest 1 marine protected area 1 national nature reserve 2 core wild land areas The territory covered stretches between Ullapool, Achiltibuie and Lochinver in the North-West highlands. Pre-school children from Lochinver helped start the planting of 100 hectares of land near the village with downy birch, alder, willow, oak, hazel, wych elm, bird cherry, gean, rowan and aspen. The involvement of organisations and schools The Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership

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Woodland Expansion Project Update

The ground preparation works for planting trees are well underway at Druim Suardalain The fencing works are being carried out by local contractor and good progress is being made with the dismantling of old fences. Volunteers had made a good start on the Gorse clearance (which is a thankless job!) but now they will be glad to hear we are trialling a ground clearance machine over the next week or so that should make short work of it! Anyone interested in planting and or maintenance operations please get in touch with Elaine Macaskill, Woodland Manager on 01571 844638 or email emacaskill@coigach-assynt.org

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