In 2010, a group of agencies and organisations came together to form the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative, an ambitious and large landscape scale project to enhance the natural, cultural and historic wealth of the Forth Estuary between Stirling Bridge and Blackness Castle, and make it more accessible to residents and visitors. The Initiative will have a significant and lasting impact on an important landscape that is currently neglected and whose historic and ecological importance is largely overlooked, through action to conserve, restore and celebrate its natural and built heritage features, and by providing opportunities for people to take part and develop appropriate skills.
The Inner Forth is a unique landscape which juxtaposes the presence of heavy industry such as Grangemouth and Longannet, alongside urban settlements, internationally important wildlife habitats and the remnants of historic buildings, estates and ports which played a central role in the development of Scotland’s trade and industries. The Initiative will create a more integrated habitat network across the landscape, protect and enhance key historic features and restore post-industrial sites to enhance their value for biodiversity and recreation.
The Initiative is led by RSPB Scotland (lead agency). The partnership includes Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council, Falkirk Council, Central Scotland Forest Trust, TCV Scotland, Historic Scotland, and SUSTRANS. The Initiative is in its early stages of development, and was successful in securing enough funds to employ a Project Officer for a year to undertake some important baseline studies. This has enabled the Initiative to make real progress and a Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme bid was submitted in February 2012. As part of this, working groups on themes such as skills and training, access, audience development and community engagement, and natural heritage have been set up to pool knowledge and scope potential priorities.
Local communities will play a key role in developing and implementing the Initiative, through identifying and delivering projects, and exploring and celebrating their local landscape and heritage. The Partnership is currently undertaking an Audience Development study to explore how people currently use and perceive the landscape, which will help to identify potential audiences and engagement strategies. Meetings with community councillors are also taking place.
The Initiative has also been successful in securing funding from the CSGN Development Fund for natural heritage based projects over the next 3 years. These funds will enable the completion of surveys of woodland, traditional landscapes, farmland, wetland and lowland raised bogs in the area to identify priorities and to design strategies for conservation and restoration, the provision of training and basic equipment to volunteers to take part in habitat management projects and ‘Citizen Science’ wildlife recording projects, the creation of important habitat ‘stepping stones’ for invertebrates through management of disused brownfield sites and installation of green roofs, and the provision of conservation advice to farmers to inform agri-environmental grant applications.