Busy Biosphere and Future Activities

Through the summer of 2023 staff from the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere hosted and facilitated a range of family activities in the CCLP area. Particularly popular were the bug hunts (fun for all ages) and arts and crafts at events including the Woodroad Park Family Day, Pocket Park in Cumnock, and Netherthird Community Garden.

Many local people have taken part in the Biosphere’s Sense of Place workshops, including the Nest Wellbeing group in Cumnock and the Youth Group which meets at the Boswell Centre. Learning Journeys were undertaken by the ChaTea group from Auchinleck, who visited Dumfries House in June. They met with Billy Cooper at Ochiltree Hub to talk about the history of the area and enjoyed a special tour of Auchinleck House, followed by tea and cake at Boswell’s Coach House.

Image Below: The ChaTea Group at Auchinleck House

Ochiltree, which is a designated Biosphere Community, celebrated the launch of their new Heritage Trail and Lugar Water walk leaflets. Over 80 people attended a special event in August and walked together along the river to the Barony A-frame, before returning to the Hub for refreshments and musical entertainment from the Cumnock Tryst.

Image Below: Walking along the Lugar Path as part of the leaflet launch event

The Dalmellington Scout Group were the first to earn the new Biosphere badge for Scouts and Guides. Biosphere officers took a group of 30 children on a trip to Culzean Castle in September to complete badge activities in the castle grounds, in the woods and on the beach.

Images Below: Left: Dalmellington Scout Group at Culzean Castle. Right: The new Biosphere badge

Hannahston Nature Day took place on 1st October, with over 50 attendees exploring the community woodlands, meeting real owls, taking part in bug-hunting, pond-dipping, tree-planting, having their faces painted, and enjoying warming drinks from Drift Coffee. The fantastic outdoor activities were provided by Scottish Wildlife Trust, Eadha Enterprises, Coalfield Regeneration Trust, Coalfield Environment Initiative, SWSEIC, Architecture & Design Scotland and CVO. The event was such a success that a spring Nature Day at Hannahston is in the calendar for 4th May 2024.

Images Below: Left: Exploring Hannahston Woods. Middle: Nature Day Poster 2024. Right: Pond Dipping at Hannahston Ponds

The Capturing Climate Project involved P6/7 classes in four primary schools. Pupils were taught about Climate Change, using RoundView and Ketso, tools developed by the University of Manchester to help children and adults understand the world’s complex environmental problems. Children were encouraged to share how they felt about environmental issues, writing their worries, hopes and ideas on lollipop sticks before gluing them to a piece of recycled furniture. Muirkirk Primary School and New Cumnock Primary School decorated a chest of drawers, donated by the Re-Use Hub in New Cumnock, which was displayed at the Cumnock Tryst Concert on 7th October, where people were able to read and think about what the children had said. In November and December, Netherthird Primary School and Littlemill Primary School in Rankinston took part in the project and decorated a small table with lollipop sticks. These art pieces will be displayed in the schools and at events over the coming year.

Image Below: Logan Primary School pupils taking part in the Capturing Climate Project

Two primary schools have recently been taking part in a Swedish Learning Exchange. The GSA Biosphere has links with other UNESCO Biospheres around the world, and has developed a programme to partner with schools in different countries for projects that develop understanding of nature, sustainability, and global citizenship. At the beginning of this year the GSA Biosphere team led workshops at Logan Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School, Auchinleck, to introduce children to the wildlife, habitats and special places of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire. Pupils produced postcards and maps which were sent to schools in Gotene, Sweden, and their partner schools in Sweden are currently completing the same activities. The hope is that the schools will keep in touch and share local stories to develop their connection.

Image Below: Logan Primary School Pupil proudly displaying the Red Fox postcard he made

The newest project from the GSA Biosphere is ‘Sense of Place in Film’. Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant from CT Productions are currently delivering sessions with the Recovery group from the Boswell Centre, Auchinleck, and Cumnock Junior Enterprise. Participants are developing skills in film production: learning to use cameras and equipment, storyboarding, shooting in the field, editing and post-production. We look forward to seeing their films in the near future.