Forth Estuary Forum E-News Bulletin May 2019

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Inner Forth Futures Wanderings and Windings Workshops


Inner Forth Futures would be delighted if you and/or other representatives from your group were able to come along to one or more of our forthcoming Wanderings and Windings co-design workshops, which will be held at eight locations around the Inner Forth in the last two weeks in May.


As you may know, Inner Forth Futures has received a National Lottery grant of £47,000 for an exciting heritage project, called Wanderings and Windings. The project will enable the creation of eight heritage trails around Stirling, Falkirk, Fife and Clackmannanshire, encouraging people to explore the wildlife and history of this unique landscape at the heart of Scotland.

The project, with a total value of £67,000, aims to work closely with local communities around the Inner Forth to develop a suite of eight, day-long, waymarked and promoted walks and cycles. They will use existing paths and tracks to encourage local people and visitors to the area to explore the landscape and discover some of the many hidden gems to be found around the Inner Forth. These might include nature hotspots, historic buildings, riverside views, cultural landmarks or simply places to escape from the bustle of urban life.

We have now appointed Ian White Associates to help us to develop and deliver the ‘Wanderings and Windings’. Initially this will be through co-design volunteering sessions that will ensure that routes are developed with and for local communities. Each trail will guide people around the landscape using and linking pre-existing routes, networks and transport options with stops at interpreted heritage features. They will ‘join the dots’ between heritage features and be waymarked on the ground by simple bespoke roundels. Bespoke printed and digital trail guides will enable users to explore the routes and learn about, experience and interpret the heritage of the Inner Forth.

The co-design workshops will be held at eight locations around the Inner Forth, and we would be delighted if you and/or colleagues from your group would come along to one or more of the sessions. The dates and venues for the co-design workshops are:

Monday 20 May, 6.30-8.30pm, Room 4,  Raploch Community Campus, Drip Road, Stirling FK8 1RD

Tuesday 21 May, 10am-12pm,  Bowhouse Community Centre, Bowhouse Road, Grangemouth, FK3 OEU

Tuesday 21 May, 5.30-7.30pm, Limekilns Church (Gellet Community Hall) Church Street, Limekilns, KY11 3HT

Wednesday 22 May, 2-4pm, Clackmannan Town Hall, Main Street, Clackmannan, FK10 4JA

Thursday 23 May, 6.30-8.30pm, Abercorn Church, South Queensferry, South Queensferry, EH30 9SL

Tuesday 28 May, 1.45-3.45pm, Blairhall Community Centre, 10-12 Wilson Street, Blairhall, KY12 9PS

Wednesday 29 May, 10am-12pm, Bo’ness Town Hall, Glebe Park, Stewart Avenue, Bo’ness, EH51 9NJ

Thursday 30 May, 6.30-8.30pm, Alpha Centre, Lamont Crescent, Fallin, FK7 7EJ

These are all drop-in sessions, with the emphasis on gathering your ideas and suggestions of favourite routes, destinations and highlights of the landscape. If you’d like any further info do feel free to email us at, or give us a call on 01324 831568.

In addition to the workshops, we have set up a Wanderings and Windings Facebook Group, so that whether you can come along to the events or not there is still a way in which you can get involved and share your ideas and comments. If you have a Facebook account, and want to join you can find it at

The Poly Roger Sets Sail

On the 7th May 2019 a new vessel in the battle to clean up plastic pollution in Britain’s waterways started a week-long tour of Scotland’s canals. Created by environmental charity Hubbub, the 12-seater punt is made from 99% recycled plastic and will form a central part of Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Source 2 Sea Week as part of Spring Clean 2019.

The ‘Poly Roger’ boat began its journey at The Falkirk Wheel heading west to Bowling Harbour.  The boat will take local people out on ‘plastic fishing’ trips to raise awareness of the growing levels of plastic pollution in Scottish rivers and canals and to encourage more people to recycle their used plastic. The boat has been built from plastic collected on previous plastic fishing trips, with plans to build a litter-busting fleet across the UK – a fantastic example of the circular economy in action. Scottish Canals will be supporting the delivery of the plastic fishing trips and will also be organising paddle pick-ups along the route to target litter in the canal.

The plastic fishing initiative has come from Hubbub and has been built using funds collected from Starbucks’ 5p charge on drinks purchased in a paper cup across its 950 stores nationwide.  It’s only the third boat of its kind in the world and the first to launch outside of London. The craftsman tasked with building the boat was expert boat-builder Mark Edwards MBE, who also built the Queen’s barge ‘Gloriana’.  The design is based on a traditional punt, but it’s made from the most modern of materials – Plaswood, a hardwearing alternative to wood that is made entirely from recycled single-use plastic – and is powered by a rechargeable electric motor making it the most sustainable of boats.

More details can be found here.


Researchers find 20,000 pieces of plastic on the Firth of Forth

Plastic pollution on the Firth of Forth could be far worse than previously thought, according to research from Dundee University. A study of a total of 48 square metres (517 sq ft) of beach at 16 sites counted more than 20,000 pieces of plastic.

Most of them were “nurdles” which are used in the plastic production process. Microplastics have also now been found in the otherwise pristine waters of Loch Lomond.

Research scientist Suzanne Grimes carried out the study by scraping the top two centimetres of sand in sample areas which measured three square metres (32 sq ft) each.

Some of the plastic was litter but almost three quarters came from nurdles – tiny coloured or transparent buttons of plastic created during the production process.

Ms Grimes said: “What I found was worse than any previous attempts to gauge the scale of the plastic pollution problem had shown. Inspections take place but these are announced ahead of time so areas can be cleaned up. When you conduct a survey at random a different picture emerges.

“When you walk on to a beach you can see there is clearly so much more pollution out there but you choose the sites you will study beforehand so you are not prejudiced by what you see when you arrive.

“The fact I found so much plastic gives you some idea of how bad the situation is across the whole Forth estuary.

The nurdles were counted across the length of the firth and on both banks but the most prevalence was at Bo’ness. Around 9,000 were counted there in just three square metres.

Responsibility for ensuring manufacturers do not pollute the seas with pellets lies with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

A spokeswoman said: “SEPA regulates sites that produce plastic pellets and is working with pellet producers to ensure that the risk of pellet loss into the environment is minimised. SEPA takes this issue very seriously, and relevant operators are required to monitor for pellet loss and take action where this is identified.

“Pellets have been manufactured and used in Scotland over a considerable length of time and it is likely that some of the pellets in the environment, particularly coloured ones, are historic and due to their nature will not degrade.”

More details can be found here.


Muddy, coastal marshes are “sleeping giants” that could fight climate change, scientists say

 A global study has shown that these regions could be awoken by sea level rise.

Sea level is directly linked to the amount of carbon these wetlands store in their soil, the team reports in the journal Nature.


Researchers studied the carbon locked away in cores of wetland mud from around the world, and say that the preservation of coastal wetlands is critical for mitigating global warming.


Many habitats that are rich in plant life are important stores of carbon. But coastal wetlands are particularly efficient at locking it away. When the marshland plants die, rather than decomposing and releasing their carbon into the atmosphere, they become buried in the mud. As sea levels rise, more sediment layers wash over tidal marshes and bury the carbon-rich material, locking it beneath the muddy layers.

Lead researcher Prof Kerrylee Rogers, from the University of Wollongong, explained: “This sediment not only buries and traps root material and other organic matter, but also increases the elevation of wetlands.

“With sea-level rise, this acts as an adaptation measure by enabling wetlands to build elevation as the sea rises.”

But for coastal wetlands to build up and store more carbon, they will need space, as Patrick Megonigal from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, US, explained. “The important question is how many wetlands will remain wetlands and how humans manage the land adjacent to them.

“Wetlands can migrate on land as long as they have space, so that’s an important decision that we’re left with.”

Coastal wetlands are suffering in part because of the many communities that have built up along seaboards.

“Things like shipping and shrimp farming have a direct impact, but land-based businesses also benefit from the protection of sea walls which prevent wetlands from adjusting to sea level change,” said Rob Shore, head of conservation programmes at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

“Because the coast crosses national boundaries, the only way to tackle this is through international cooperation, so we and other NGOs are calling for countries to sign up to a global forum involving all these diverse interests.

“The potential carbon benefits of coastal wetlands are huge and this is the only way to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity.”

More details can be found here.

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