Garnock Connections

Delivering integrated activities which actively engage people with green infrastructure

Garnock Connections

Grantee: RSPB

What the project set out to achieve

The project aimed to deliver a number of integrated activities which actively engage people with green infrastructure. The Garnock Connections area is based around the catchment of the River Garnock and has the river at its heart. In this post-industrial area lie many, largely unknown, sites of natural significance which face mounting challenges. There was an opportunity to engage local people in the active management and conservation of these resources, for the benefit of the people, wildlife and green infrastructure of the Garnock Connections area.

The project would improve the scale and effectiveness of heritage volunteering across the area. A particular focus would be citizen science, providing inspiration, training, events and resources to increase the number of people actively engaged in wildlife recording. This would contribute to the knowledge and effective management of wildlife and habitats across the area.

The project aimed to work with communities to develop self-guided themed heritage trails that would encourage active exploration, informing and inspiring local people about the rich natural and cultural heritage on their doorstep and promoting pride and stewardship.

The project would also enable improvements to local nature reserves on the edge of urban settlement, creating vital new beach dune and woodland habitats which will benefit local communities and wildlife.

Where the project idea came from

The project was driven by local people, community groups and NGO’s who demonstrated a passion and demand for landscape-scale action to conserve and enhance natural and cultural heritage. The proposed activities formed part of the wider Garnock Connections Landscape Partnership scheme, delivered from 2018 – 22, with a legacy of benefits stretching long into the future.

How the community helped develop the project

During 2017 a number of community engagement and consultation events were held across the Garnock Connections area to understand what people value about their landscape and heritage, what they would like to see happen and how they would like to get involved. These included presentations, workshops, drop-in events, guided heritage walks and discussions with community groups and individuals. Following a call for projects, over 100 project concept notes from a range of community groups and organisations were received.

How the project fits into the bigger picture

This project formed part of the wider Garnock Connections Landscape Partnership Scheme.  The activities included formed an important component of community based activity within this landscape scale programme of work, which included projects by third sector and public sector organisations, as well as community driven activities. The Garnock Connections staff team played an important role in linking these aspects of the bigger picture and the Steering Group and Board, including NatureScot and Local Authority representation, ensured a good fit with other initiatives and activities in the area. 

What the project contributed

The project led a legacy of an enhanced green infrastructure resource in the Garnock area and communities with enhanced skills and confidence to manage and conserve that resource. The project recognised that in a year, these changes will only be beginning to happen, but hope that the targeted investment proposed in this project will lead to further investment and activity as a result of the wider landscape partnership, the enhanced skills and capacity of communities in the area and the motivation that comes from seeing positive delivery of a project. Most importantly, the relationships and partnerships that will be developed will lead to further opportunities to work together in this way.

Throughout the delivery phase, the project delivered the following:

  • Created an access plan and five heritage trails, supported by a heritage trail app
  • Established an operational wildlife monitoring system with regular records being submitted
  • Made two sets of wildlife recording equipment available for communities and schools to loan and use
  • Delivered training events
  • Created 6ha of broadleaved woodland, planting 6000 trees and creating a new access route
  • Created and restored 1400m2 of sand dune habitat
  • Created 180m2 of new wetland ponds
  • Developed 5ha of species rich wildflower meadow




The full story of Garnock Connections, a Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund project delivered by RSPB Scotland.

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Green Infrastructure

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