One of the biggest and most interesting challenges that I’ve had in recent years has been the development of the Lothians and Fife Green Network Partnership (LFGNP). I was involved in the setting up of this project from its inception in 2008 (initially as the “Edinburgh and Lothians Forest Habitat Network”).
Along with the rest of Scotland, Edinburgh and the Lothians has a relatively low proportion of woodland cover with a current level of only around 13% across the Region (by contrast some other European countries such as Austria and Slovenia have up to 80% forest cover). Our aim was to increase tree and woodland cover in the landscape for the benefit of both people and wildlife. Most important of all was to involve local people and communities in the work as well as planners and environmental professionals.
Two years later in 2010, the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) was set up with a similar approach being applied right across the Central Belt of Scotland including the City Regions of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The CSGN area covers 19 local authorities (or an area equivalent to 10,000 square km), making it one of the biggest projects of its kind in Europe. We worked closely with the other CSGN partners to start to make the Green Network and urban forestry reality across East Central Scotland. Here is a little background to the Project and what were doing;
LFGNP was launched in 2008 by Scottish Environment Minister Michael Russell. The Partnership aims to promote the economic, social and ecological benefits of green networks across the Lothians and to develop best practice on the ground. In August 2010 the Partnership was rebranded as Lothians and Fife Green Network Partnership (LFGNP) following the inclusion of Fife Council and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust as partners.
The Partnership has five key strategic outcomes which link closely with Scottish Government Sustainable Economic Growth priorities:
- To create an attractive environment
- To provide biodiversity and green infrastructure benefits
- To improve health and well-being benefits
- To promote empowered communities
- To assist education and lifelong learning through use of the outdoor classroom
In this respect the project is very much about bringing the benefits of trees and woodlands to local people as well as integrating forestry with planning and development.
A Forestry Strategy For Edinburgh and the Lothians:
LFGNP developed its coordinated vision through influencing and inputting into local and regional strategies such as Regional Development Plans (SESPlan), Local Plans and Public Open Space Strategies. Along with local authority partners, LFGNP coordinated and assisted the development of Regional Forestry Strategies for Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.
The development of the Forest and Woodland Strategy for Edinburgh and the Lothians was one of the most significant goals of the project. This was taken forward firstly in the form of a Forestry Framework for the area which then later developed into an indicative strategy with maps showing areas suitable for the creation of new woodlands. The Strategy was finally launched in autumn 2012. The Forest and Woodland Strategy embraced the following key principles:
- To Link social, environmental and economic development.
- To reference Scottish, UK and the EU green infrastructure policy.
- To add value to what was already happening.
- To deliver real benefits and projects on the ground.
To download the Forest and Woodland Strategy:
Best Practice Projects on the Ground:
In tandem with the Strategy, LFGNP developed a whole range of projects on the ground including woodland creation and management projects in the Pentland Hills, Rosslyn Glen and around Edinburgh City. Many of these projects were complex and involved working across multiple land ownerships to create the concept of joined up habitat networks and wildlife corridors. LFGNP also worked closely with the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust to work in deprived communities across Edinburgh and give local people a sense of ownership of their woods.
I left the partnership to move to Germany in 2011 but the work continues. For more information see:
For more details of my own professional experience in forestry and green networks please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org