Thanks to funding secured by board member Diane MacPherson and the design help of board members, volunteers and gardeners alike our garden is getting a much appreciated upgrade. The work carried out by our neighbour and gardener Abbie Thompson will change the layout of the garden space. Some of the improvements will include adding more planters, painting the walls, make and replace the door and a window on the glass dome, and add flowers and plants to make a sensory garden in Lochmaddy.
We also want to thank Calmac for gifting us one of their planters from outside the mart in Lochmaddy, George Leslie for moving the planter and John Macdonald all his help arranging this to be done and helping with the move.
This upgrade will run until next March when our garden should include new benches and planted plants, flowers and trees. We just wanted to share some of the photos of the work carried out so far!
Some other people we would like to thank are Ian and Gordan who are helping Abbie with the work, and the garden group for their help and suggestions composed of Catherine Macleod, Jean Archer, Ada Campbell, Gwen Evans, Diane MacPherson, Jessie Monroe, Joan Macdonald and Elaine Moloney.
What a great ceilidh cafe last Wednesday here at Old Lochmaddy School. A few of the highlights from the cafe were our lovely neighbour Sue getting us all involved in chair exercises, Margaret Browning displaying lovely knit and crochet items in time for Christmas, Carol Huson bringing along her spinning wheel and showing us how it's done and Annie and Ada talking about sock machines and the Ùrachadh Uibhist initiative to create Highland dancing socks and kilt socks.
What a fantastic day for our first Ceilidh Cafe of the season. We were very grateful for everyone who came and made the event so special, especially for John Macdonald for so generously bringing part of his collection on Calmac in Lochmaddy and talking us through the collection. It was really very fascinating to hear about everyone's shared experiences and stories.
As part of #EarthScienceWeek2023, Dr Jean Archers geologist and board member of the North Uist Development company held two events. Held in the Old Lochmaddy School Jean held a talk about the Geology of Scotland and Uist's fossil earthquakes with the aid of maps and specimens. We were very grateful to receive funding for the event from The Geological Society. Later in the week Jean held a geology show and tell where we invited all to bring in their own rocks, crystals, fossils etc and we tried to identify them!
A great night was had at the Old Lochmaddy School where Viv Halcrow of the Woodland Trust Scotland discussed biodiversity of the trees and woodlands in Uist. It was lovely to see so many people turn out on such a windy and wet evening! Viv left some leaflets here at the school, so please do pop in and pick one up.
What an exciting day here at the Old Lochmaddy School on Friday 25th August when Mrs Val Maclean visited with Caraidean Uibhist community group. Val very generously donated an actinolite crystal found on the west side of North Uist by her late husband Alistair Maclean. It was great to hear from Val about the Macleans history with the crystal and from our board member and geologist Dr Jean Archer about the formation of actinolites.
The Àrainneachd Àlainn environment exhibition at the Old Lochmaddy School opened this summer on July 13th. The delayed open was due to the fitting of a new heating system in the school. This exhibition has been open every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 pm - 4 pm in August and September. Where the exhibition offers an opportunity to find more about Uist's wonderful natural heritage. The exhibition focuses on Uist’s landscape, landform, the seas around Uist, the flora and fauna and the sustainable crofting practice that helps maintain the environment.
We are pleased to be able to publish and share the results of the Uist ranger project from the 2021 visitor season.
The increasing tourism in Uist each year and local community concerns about visitor management and conservation of the natural environment, inspired the formation of a partnership between community organisations on Uist seeking to find solutions to these concerns - landowner Stòras Uibhist and the development company North Uist Development Company (NUDC), the local council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) and RSPB Scotland. The combined effort resulted in a successful NatureScot funding bid (NatureScot Better Places 2) that provided the opportunity for two Seasonal Rangers to work on the islands and actively improve infrastructure and visitor management with the help of all project partners and local communities.
The Rangers were focused on applying a friendly information and educational approach with awareness raising, creating materials to inform visitors about the environment, responsible access to the islands and why it is important to work together to protect the environment. The Rangers also managed a variety of local events including beach cleans and citizen science events as a way to engage both local communities and visitors to the islands, encouraging ecotourism. An estimated 25x 1-tonne bulk bags full of litter was collected over the summer, with 122 joining the events - both locals and visitors.
Ameena Camps, North Uist Development Company said "We were so fortunate in being able to recruit two passionate, skilled and dedicated rangers who quickly adapted to island life and became part of the local community thanks to wide support across Uist. As a result, a lot was achieved in the short period of time they were here. The project highlighted the importance of Uist-wide collaboration and the need for a year round ranger service to continue their great work."
The Rangers report provides various recommendations, including:
Seasonal Ranger - Uist, Outer Hebrides
Type of Contract: 37.5 hours per week (some weekend and evening working required). Temporary. Fixed term until 31st October 2021.
Salary: £27,300 per annum FTE (i.e. £9,100 for 4 months)
With the increase in visitors to Uist over recent years; which is expected to increase as COVID-19 restrictions ease and UK residents are encouraged to stay at home for their holidays; and a unique fragile natural environment including two nature reserves at Balranald and Loch Druidibeg and, with a large proportion of the islands habitats designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Areas and National Scenic Areas; the Seasonal Ranger will play a crucial role in ensuring that our communities conservation ambitions go hand in hand with welcoming visitors to this well-loved place.
You will share your enthusiasm for the outdoors and passion for the environment with the walkers, campers, cyclists and sightseers who come to explore our islands during the busy summer season.
You will work outside on walking/cycling routes, in key hotspots for outdoor activities and camping and, at our new Environment Centre in Lochmaddy near the primary ferry port, acting as an ambassador to build awareness of the importance of conserving our fragile environment and support visitor management, conservation and engagement activities. Your working week will be divided between Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay (60% Berneray and North Uist, 40% Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay). You’ll leave those you meet with a desire to respect, protect and enjoy this special natural environment and an understanding of how they can help do this.
You will work on your own and with colleagues, volunteers and other organisations, on a variety of practical visitor infrastructure improvements and conservation tasks to help us achieve the habitat management standards expected of protected destinations such as this. This will take place across the islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist, working in collaboration with our project partners Stòras Uibhist, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland.
You will contribute to the long-term sustainability of a ranger service through investigating income generating activities inspired by our work, growing our capacity through volunteers and cost-effective use of resources.
KEY RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACCOUNTABILITIES
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS, SKILLS, EXPERIENCE & KNOWLEDGE
The Key Responsibilities, Scope of Job, and Required Qualifications, Skills, Experience & Knowledge reflect the requirements of the job at the time of issue. The North Uist Development Company (NUDC) reserves the right to amend these with appropriate consultation and/or request the post-holder to undertake any activities that it believes to be reasonable within the broad scope of the job or his/her general abilities. This vacancy is being funded by NatureScot and subject to receipt of final approval documents.
Interested applicants should forward a CV and letter of support by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 noon on Monday the 28th of June 2021.
NUDC supports flexible working and will consider part-time applications as a job-share.
Applications will be reviewed from the 28th to the 30th of June, and selected candidates will be sent invitations to interview on the 30th of June. Interviews will be held via Zoom on Thursday the 1st of July and Friday the 2nd of July 2021.
Candidates must be able to start immediately.
Download the job description here.
Community Energy Fortnight started yesterday on June 14 2021 to celebrate community energy across the UK, and this week also marks the launch of a new exciting project in Uist to plan and design energy projects to deliver a low carbon future for our islands – the Uist Local Energy Plan.
A community-led Local Energy Plan enables the local community to look at its existing and future energy needs (in terms of power, heat and transport) and state where it sees priorities for action.
The Local Energy Plan (LEP) will set out the aspirations and priorities of the local community for the future development of energy from Berneray to Eriskay. The LEP will be delivered by a partnership between North Uist Development Company, Community Energy Scotland and Coimhearsnachd Bharraigh agus Bhatarsaidh, using a wealth of local island expertise in community energy.
The project will be supported and driven by a Steering Group and an Advisory Group with members across the community to represent the area in which they live and the sector they are skilled in, such as energy efficiency, transport, fisheries, the environment, education, and crofting.
Janet Foggie, Chief Executive Officer of Community Energy Scotland said “Communities across Scotland are turning their attention to our need for a fair and equal transition to Net Zero, for the people who live in Uist the Uist Local Energy plan gives people an excellent opportunity to be part of the shaping for the future of the island. Community Energy Scotland are proud to play their part in including everyone in the Energy Plan and in working to ensure that building a sustainable future for Uist is given the headstart it needs.”
Uist Wind’s two 900kW turbines in North Uist and, old car meets new EV at the South Uist games as part of Uist Energy in Motion.
The Uist LEP builds on from a Scottish pilot project - Delivering COmmunity BENefits of Civic Energy (COBEN); which included Barra as one of the pilot areas.
Community based plans empower the community to collectively take ownership of their local energy needs and so communities can actively shape their own future. The Scottish Government has a target of 2GW of community and locally owned renewable energy by 2030; part of the wider target of ambitious targets of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and a 75% reduction by 2030.
Similar plans are being developed across Europe, in both mainland and island settings. The Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat supported pioneering islands on the development of their Clean Energy Transition Agendas (CETAs): strategic roadmaps for the transition process towards clean energy; including a combined CETA for the islands of Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna, Fair Isle, Foula, and the peninsula of Knoydart in Scotland.
Norman MacAskill, Chair of South Uist Renewable Energy Ltd (Stòras Uibhist) said “With Glasgow soon hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), now is the perfect time for communities across Uist to work together to deliver a local energy plan that drives forward the energy transition. We look forward to working with all involved in the project over the coming months, and sharing the findings with the wider community in early 2022.”
Stewart Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Tighean Innse Gall (TIG) said “TIGs role is to help ensure that we sew the thread from your house in Ceannaridh to COP 26 linking in all the policies and programmes of delivery in between. People expect a just transition and TIG believe the Uist Local Energy Plan will be a key driver for this, we applaud the true Uist style of boldness of vision and determination to succeed.”
NUDC aims to communicate project milestones and successes as widely as possible, and this news feed highlights key articles.