By Emily Burton, Volunteer Coordinator
Brand new to the Scottish Seabird Centre and the East coast of Scotland, I’ve found myself jumping feet first into the North Berwick community as I start my role as Volunteer Coordinator. I’ve been hired to help deliver the Edinburgh Shoreline – The Wildline project. My job is to engage and support volunteers to undertake practical conservation work, both on the iconic islands in the Forth and in a variety of locations along the coast, improving habitats for seabirds and other local wildlife. A core objective of the project is the control of invasive plant species such as tree mallow, which, if left unchecked will choke islands like Fidra and Craigleith, blanketing important seabird nesting sites. This project is supported by the Scottish Natural Heritage Biodiversity Challenge Fund.
Luckily for me, the East Lothian community are passionate about the outdoors, with many people already engaged in brilliant initiatives to enhance and protect the natural environment. The Scottish Seabird Centre has been running their award-winning SOS Puffin project for more than 12 years, mobilising over 300 work parties (1200 volunteers) on the islands of Lamb, Craigleith and Fidra. As a result, excellent progress has been made to control invasive species and large areas of these islands have been restored to natural vegetation. Despite this success, regular work parties remain essential, as tree mallow continues to regenerate and spread rapidly if left unchecked.
However, SOS Puffin isn’t the only movement in the area dedicated to protecting nature. I have been flooded with recommendations for useful contacts – individuals and groups undertaking everything from countryside maintenance and beach cleans to wildlife surveys and public engagement. I’m looking forward to forming working partnerships with many of these groups as I begin to map out sites and build a database of volunteers.
This is a project I am excited to be working on and proud to represent. I believe that community initiatives to protect and restore nature will become ever more essential over the coming years. Climate crisis, pollution and continued exploitation of natural resources has seen wildlife plummet, the latest State of Nature report drawing the devastating conclusion that 41% of UK species have declined since 1970.
Outdoor volunteering gives people the opportunity to take action for nature, whilst having a positive impact on wildlife and people. Participants are often granted access to unique and beautiful locations, profiting from the various mental and physical health benefits gained by spending time in nature. Volunteers also have the chance to socialise with like minded individuals, building friendships, having fun and learning about specific habitats, species and conservation issues.
Over the course of 12 months, the Wildline project will be tackling practical work on at least 5 sites along the East Lothian coast, as well as travelling out onto some of the islands in the Firth of Forth to support existing projects. We aim to build up a team of volunteers who are willing to give their time, energy and commitment, both now and in the future, to ensure that this project will have a long-term impact on local habitats and wildlife.
To find out more about the Wildline project or to join the team, please email Emily at: email@example.com
This project is supported by the Scottish Natural Heritage Biodiversity Challenge Fund.