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National Lottery funding boost for Cumbernauld environmental research

Cumbernauld Living Landscape celebration (photo Lenny Warren)
"We are delighted to be a part of this project working to improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and help local people get involved with the nature on their doorstep"

Creating Natural Connections, a partnership including the James Hutton Institute which seeks to deliver significant improvements to Cumbernauld’s environment over the next four years by building on the success of Cumbernauld Living Landscape project, has received a transformational grant of £1.3m from the National Heritage Lottery Fund to create a long-term change in the way the town’s people connect with nature.  

Thanks to support from players of the National Lottery, nearly 3,000 primary school pupils will be given opportunities to explore nature. Groups including people at risk of poor mental health and young people at risk of disengaging from education, will be given specialist support to improve their well-being. And community organisations across the town will be helped to deliver environmental improvements in their local neighbourhood.

A total area of urban woodland equivalent to 230 football pitches (230 hectares) will be sustainably managed, and more than 12,000 native trees will be planted. Three peat bogs surrounded by houses will be restored, and six new community rain gardens will help reduce the impacts of flooding. Across the network better managed urban wildflower meadows will boost pollinators and increase local biodiversity.

People will be able to explore and enjoy the nature on their doorstep thanks to 3km of new paths linking existing routes, and 5km of existing routes will be upgraded to more accessible for everyone.

Ian Mackenzie, Living Landscapes Programme Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “This work represents the most significant investment in the town’s natural environment since it was created in the 1950s. We’re delighted to have received support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to make it happen.

“We have a long-term plan to put nature and people at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future. This is one of Scotland’s greenest towns but to truly connect people with wildlife we have work to do to improve local woodlands and other green spaces, both in terms of their value for wildlife and the potential for people to enjoy them.

“Involving people who don’t normally get the chance to benefit from nature is really exciting. We can help them feel that they really have a stake in the future of their community, and also unlock skills and confidence that they will have for life.”

Dr Kathryn Colley, social scientist at the James Hutton Institute, said: “We are delighted to be a part of this project working to improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and help local people get involved with the nature on their doorstep. Our role is to work with the other partners to assess the difference that the project makes to the people of Cumbernauld. 

“We’ll be doing this through a variety of social research methods including working with young people and community groups to help them make films documenting what the project means to them and getting Cumbernauld residents involved as ‘community researchers’.”

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute are responsible for leading the monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of the project for people and communities. In the development phase of the project, Hutton scientists have worked with project partners to co-develop a bespoke suite of evaluation methods and gone on to pilot these methods in Cumbernauld. The strength of this co-production approach is that it has brought together knowledge from academia and practice, ensuring that the evaluation approach is scientifically robust, conducted to high ethical standards, and is sensitive to the needs and requirements of both project partners and the intended project recipients. 

Dr Colley added: “Our evaluation approach draws on qualitative and quantitative social research methods, and involves Hutton colleagues from the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences and Ecological Sciences groups. The methods employ approaches ranging from conventional researcher-led approaches to collecting and analysing standardised metrics, to more innovative visual and participatory methods. 

“These participatory methods use individual stories and rich descriptions of people’s own experiences of their local area and of the difference that the project has made to them, and emphasise doing evaluation research with people rather than on them.”

Riona McMorrow, acting Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Scotland, commented: “Connecting the community of Cumbernauld with the abundant green spaces in and around the town has been happening on a small scale with great success over the last few years.

“We’re delighted that, thanks to the people who play The National Lottery, we can support Cumbernauld Living Landscape as they build upon these achievements.  Even more people will now get the opportunity to connect with nature and realise the benefits it brings to their health and wellbeing. Their contribution will improve the natural heritage and show that it can exist and thrive alongside an urban development.”

Councillor Michael McPake, Convener of the Environment and Transportation Committee, North Lanarkshire Council, said: “This is excellent news for Cumbernauld and its residents, creating new opportunities for improving the local greenspace and, importantly, for more people to enjoy the benefits of nature in their community. Our Greenspace team will be working with partners at Cumbernauld Living Landscape on this exciting project to help make Cumbernauld an even greener place to live and visit.”

Pat Cahill, Director of Sanctuary Scotland said: “As a supporter of the Scottish Wildlife Trust in Cumbernauld, Sanctuary staff have seen first-hand the positive impact the town’s greenspace can have on people’s lives. This investment will further improve Cumbernauld’s natural environment and enable more residents to enjoy it. We look forward to supporting Creating Natural Connections in neighbourhoods across the town, providing advice and support where required to maximise people’s involvement.

“Creating Natural Connections will also complement some of Sanctuary’s investment in Cumbernauld. Much of the planned activity will take place a short walk from the high-quality new homes being built to replace the town’s high-rise blocks.”

Notes to editors

Created as a new town in the 1950s, Cumbernauld is one of Scotland’s greenest towns. 50% of the town is designated as greenspace, which includes woodland, meadows and parks.

Creating Natural Connections will build on the successful work of Cumbernauld Living Landscape since its creation in 2011, particularly through its Engaging Communities to Enhance Urban Greenspace project, which began in 2015 and recently came to a close. The project is led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and includes partners North Lanarkshire Council, The Conservation Volunteers, Sanctuary Scotland and the James Hutton Institute. It is supported by players of the National Lottery through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme has also received generous support from Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Ltd and North Lanarkshire Council.

The Cumbernauld Living Landscape is a long-term vision to bring a transformational change to the town’s environment. The project will reinforce and expand existing green networks and reconnect the people of Cumbernauld to their natural environment. By engaging a wide range of community groups, the Living Landscape will work to benefit local people and wildlife and support the evolving regional economy.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is the largest voluntary body working for all the wildlife of Scotland, representing over 40,000 active members who care for wildlife and the environment. The Wildlife Trust seeks to raise public awareness of threatened habitats and species and manages over 120 reserves Scotland-wide.

Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association is Cumbernauld’s biggest landlord, managing more than 2,000 homes in the town. Sanctuary’s new-build development programme is transforming Cumbernauld’s housing stock, enabling Sanctuary to provide community benefits which support the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s work locally. In partnership with its contractors, Sanctuary supplied and installed new gates, a new fence and the ‘missing link’ to complete the health trail walking path in Seafar. Sanctuary also made a financial contribution to support the pilot project for Wild Ways Well and the initial pilot project for Creating Natural Connections.

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Printed from /news/national-lottery-funding-boost-cumbernauld-environmental-research on 29/11/23 07:36:25 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.