Category Archives: Aberdeen

Eco-Congregation event with RSPB a great success

Eco-Congregation Scotland’s Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire spring network event was a great success this year, with over 130 people turning out for the event: Nature and People in North-East Scotland: Human Impacts and Ways to a Better Future.

The following report of the event has been produced by Shelia Tuckwood (photographs by John Scott):

On 31 March 2015 Queens Cross Church hosted Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Network’s spring event. One of Eco Congregation Scotland’s core values refers to working cooperatively with others who care about the environment, and the evening was an early step in exploring the mutual interests of faith groups and conservation organisations in the north east of Scotland.

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The event was organised by Bill Craigie, who has strong links with the local branch of the RSPB. Margaret Warnock, National Co-ordinator for Eco Congregation Scotland introduced the speaker, Ian Francis, who has been based at RSPB Aberdeen for nearly 25 years and who covers an area that extends from Banff to Fife. The event was attended by over 130 people from a variety of organisations, which was a just reward for all the planning many had put in during the preceding months.

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We were treated to a fascinating insight into the changing trends of the flora and fauna of NE Scotland, which was defined as Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Cairngorms and covers 8700 square kilometres, with significant areas of Scotland’s native pinewoods (23%), sand dunes (22%), vegetated shingle (19%), raised bog (19%) and coniferous woodland (8%). Examples of important species present include the red squirrel, Atlantic salmon, capercailzie and freshwater pearl mussels. Scottish curlews account for a staggering 30% of the world’s population.

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Since most monitoring methods only began after the 1980s there are limitations in the comparisons that can be made to accurately assess biodiversity changes, prior to the introduction of these methods. In the UK 60% of the 6200 species assessed have declined over a 40 year period. Decreases have been observed in butterflies, moths, bumblebees, wasps, beetles, ladybirds, rabbits (43%), mountain hares (21%), seabirds (46%) and marine phytoplankton at the very base of the food chain. Increases have been observed in 40% of the 6200 species assessed including some dragonflies, geese (327%), deer, otters, grey squirrels and in particular what can be described as “habitat generalists” and alien non-native species such as red legged partridges.

In NE Scotland over the same time period decreases have been observed in carabid beetles, little terns, hooded crows, greenshanks, lapwings, yellowhammers and capercailzies with increases observed in otters, pine marten, red deer, buzzards, barn owls, kingfishers, greylag geese, red kite, Canada geese and goldeneyes.

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The importance of habitats was highlighted with reference to land cover changes; there has been an increase in forestry, urban areas, arable and ditches, with a decrease in hedges, moorland and lowland mire. Environmental changes have also affected habitats and reference was made to agricultural methods, wetlands and water quality, woodland management, illegal killing, predation levels, climate change and increased development and recreational pressure.

In the NE of Scotland the economy is buoyant but with wealth and economic buoyancy there is significant development pressure, with over 5000 planning applications annually, 1500 – 3000 new houses each year in the City and Shire and an estimate of 56000 new houses required by 2030. Other developmental pressures include the Energetica corridor and the Aberdeen Western Perimeter Road (AWPR). There are few areas where pressure has been relaxed or land abandoned. Continual habitat loss results from the removal of hedges, drainage, roads and windfarms.

Inevitably there will be some concessions and sacrifices. Most development trade-offs are a net loss to nature, but actions that can be taken to conserve nature include planning conditions (which are made to stick), habitat creation, sustainable management strategies, influencing land use outwith planning remit, support for marine protected areas, care with consumption, sustainability in the workplace, impacts of population, families and lifestyle, people power (politicians will act in response to pressure from the people), and support for environmental charities like the RSPB.

So why does all this matter? Ian highlighted our duty of stewardship, quality of life, moral and ethical duties, biodiversity duty, ecosystem sustenance, sustainable development, and the Scottish Biodiversity 2020 target. Indeed Aberdeenshire Council’s website notes that we “have a duty to preserve this heritage”. If we are unable to achieve these “duties” in a rich city such as Aberdeen, what hope is there for the rest of the world?

We need active management and stewardship. Inevitably there will be some concessions and sacrifices. Most development trade-offs are a net loss to nature, but actions that can be taken to conserve nature include planning conditions (which are made to stick), habitat creation, sustainable management strategies, influencing land use outwith planning remit, support for marine protected areas, care with consumption, sustainability in the workplace, impacts of population, families and lifestyle, people power (politicians will act in response to pressure from the people), and support for environmental charities like the RSPB.

Ian concluded what was an extremely interesting and thought provoking talk by saying that we all have a role to play in pushing biodiversity trends upward.

Questions from the audience touched on the management of forestry, the replacement of trees removed to make way for the AWPR, the re-introduction of species, Grampian forest forum bringing farmers and forestry together, the conduction of censuses, the conservation achievements in the NE in comparison with the rest of Scotland, and species affected by hybridization. The nature and range of the questions served to highlight the importance of the subject discussed.

Scott Rennie proposed a vote of thanks and Ian was presented with a large bag of bird seed to the amusement of the assembled audience, following which there was time to chat over tea and coffee. A collection yielded well over £100 to support the conservation work of the RSPB.

Would you like a theatre group to visit your church?

The Riding Lights Theatre Company will be touring a new show about Climate Change from a Christian perspective between September and November this year (see details below).

So far only two churches in Scotland have shown an interest, but if there is sufficient demand they might put on another week touring Scotland – from 16th November.

If you are interested please contact them via their web site www.ridinglights.org.

 

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New Theatre Show on Climate Change and Christianity.

The Riding Lights Theatre Company will be touring a new show about Climate Change from a Christian perspective between September and November this year (see details below).

So far Cults Parish Church in Aberdeen is the only church in Scotland to show an interest, but if there is sufficient demand they might put on another week touring Scotland – from 16th November.

If you are interested please contact them via their web site www.ridinglights.org.

 

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Scottish churches take part in Earth Hour 2015.

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In total 92 congregations from various denominations took part in last Saturday’s Earth Hour event.  We are currently colating stories from some of them. Here is an example from Cults Parish Church:

We had a half hour “Celebration of Darkness” at Cults Parish Church. This is the first time we’ve done anything like this, so although there were only about a dozen people came along, we were pleased to have made a start in what the Group has already agreed should be an annual event.

The floodlights outside the church were switched off from 8.15pm, and inside, we had minimal lighting (just enough to allow people to find themselves a seat) and used candles as far as possible. Five members
of our “Green Group” spoke on what darkness means to them, and we had a poetry reading and piano piece played as well. It was interesting to hear the different ideas that people had; some reflected on the
role darkness has played in their own lives, others on more general themes. There were also calls for more care of our earth and better use of scarce resources, as well as the need to preserve natural darkness itself (as opposed to total darkness, which is not a natural phenomenon).

As Eco Co-ordinator at Cults, I fully intend to go on from this experience and encourage more occasions/events when we can raise awareness of all that is going on environmentally, both locally and internationally, and encourage greater involvement by more people.

We will be coordinating Earth Hour again in 2016 and will send out information to everyone on our mailing list towards the end of this year. If you are not on our newsletter mailing list please click here to sign up.

 

 

Booking now open for Annual Gathering 2015!

Booking is now open for the Eco-Congregation Scotland Annual Gathering on April 25 2015.

Eco-Congregation Scotland Annual Gathering 2015
Preparing For Paris

 

Saturday 25th April 2015, 10:00am – 3:15pm
Falkirk Trinity Church, Manse Place, Falkirk.
(Nearest rail station, Falkirk Grahamston)

Booking form (PDF File)

Booking form with full workshop, speaker and travel details (Word Format)

 

Main speakers

Aileen McLeod MSP, Minister for Climate Change, Scottish Government
Kathy Galloway, Director, Christian Aid Scotland

 

 About our Annual Gathering

This December leaders from around the world will meet in Paris to try and reach an international agreement on climate change. Come along to our Annual Gathering to find our what the Scottish government and voluntary organisations are doing to put pressure on world leaders for an agreement on climate change, and how to make your voice head. We will also have practical workshops on making your congregations more climate-friendly.

 

Stonehaven South Church celebrates eco achievements

Stonehaven South Church have had cause to celebrate recently. At their monthly FairTrade stall on February 28th, two achievements in particular were noted:

  • Clare Couston was commended for her work in achieving Fairtrade recognition for the church.
  • Irenee Lawson and Pat Logue were presented with Stonehaven South Church’s first Eco-Congregation Award by the Reverend Rosslyn Duncan.

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