Area Committee gives support to Countryside Ranger Service
Ranger Martin Hind takes pupils on a guided walk to Rogie Falls
The work of Highland Council’s Countryside Rangers was welcomed today (Wednesday 4 Feb) at the Skye, Ross and Cromarty Area Committee as Members gave their support for the wide range of work done by the Rangers and also gave their approval for the 2015/16 programme of events across the area.
Highland Council’s Countryside Manager George Duff informed members of the achievements made by the Rangers in the last financial year for and highlighted some local events they had been involved in:
In Skye and Ross and Cromarty the Rangers ran 115 which were attended by 1552 people with 98% of participants saying it met their expectations and 59% saying it exceeded expectations;
They undertook 160 school visits providing children with high quality outdoor learning in their local environment. There was also continued involvement with local schools undertaking the John Muir Award;
Under the banner of the Highland Seashore Project the Rangers delivered events for the local communities in Easter Ross and were involved in the Wester Ross Seashore Festival providing activities for over 100 people on the day;
The team also promoted Gaelic by running four events as 0part of their annual programme, input into the Gaelic John Muir Award and hosting a number of nursery and primary school sessions through the medium of Gaelic.
Mr Duff explained that the role of the Countryside Rangers has changed over the years from a traditional role of delivering environmental education and events to one of promoting and sustaining biodiversity; working with Access Officers in local areas; and managing and maintaining the large number of council properties that the Council has within its Development and Infrastructure service.
He highlighted two notable achievements during last year were the project to construct a new footbridge over the Leasgeary river and the pilot project with Broadford Learning Centre’s Countryside Skills course involving students undertaking work at a number of Highland Council sites on Skye.
In Skye and Lochalsh there are 2 full time Rangers who are based at Broadford and in Ross and Cromarty the 2 full time Rangers are based at Dingwall and Ullapool.
Members approved the proposed 2015/16 Countryside Ranger Programme of Events for their area which will include 110 events. The programme includes a range of walks, and activities aimed at different age groups and abilities. Highlights include taking part in a reptile survey in Kinloch, a geology themed coastal walk at Achiltibuie, a mountain navigation course in Ullapool, taking part in foraging forays, a chance for children to try their hands at survival skills, whale and dolphin watching, exploring hidden gems of beaches, walking lesser known mountain trails and boat trips to explore small islands.
Leader of the Area Committee Councillor Hamish Fraser thanked the Rangers for all their work in encouraging people of all ages to get out and explore the natural environment. He said: “We are lucky to live in an area that boasts very dramatic and outstanding scenery and the chance for people to enjoy seeing a wealth of wildlife in their natural habitats. The Rangers do a great job of promoting these opportunities to locals and visitors. Having them working in our communities is a real asset so I would encourage anyone who has not yet taken part in one of their activities, to come along and enjoy making new friends, take in some stunning scenery and learning more about the nature on our doorsteps.”
The teams programme of events for 2015 kicks off on Saturday March 28th when across the globe nations mark the WWFs Earth Hour. People are invited to join the Rangers at Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye for a night-time wander through woodland and open moor to listen out for nocturnal wildlife and, if the skies are clear, do some stargazing. For further information on where to meet up and to book places, contact the Rangers on 01471 820527.
The Countryside Ranger booklet listing details of all Ranger events running throughout the year across the Highlands will be available from the end of this month so people can pick up copies from council offices, service points, libraries or can find out more by e-mailing email@example.com