'Lasting contribution' of Gairloch Sitooterie volunteers recognised by Keep Scotland Beautiful as 'outstanding' status confirmed
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THE role played by a Wester Ross community garden initiative in helping improve the area and people's health and wellbeing has been recognised.
And a celebration of what has been achieved down the years from scratch has inspired hope that the lessons learned and benefits gained will be passed down to future generations.
Gairloch's Sitooterie – a coastal strip of wasteland turned treasured visitor attraction – was amongst three groups from the Highlands recognised for their work to improve their communities for climate, nature and people.
The Sitooterie – offering a place to sit, reflect and observe wildlife – achieved a Level 5 Outstanding and a Certificate of Distinction in the Keep Scotland Beautiful It's Your Neighbourhood initiative.
Visiting assessor Agnes Harvey, of environment charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, said that the volunteers had created a garden "that is much valued by the local community and the many visitors who make good use of it".
The Gardening Achievement Section of the report highlighted the fact that the Sitooterie is a well-established high-quality garden area. "The quality of plants and planting is excellent, she said. "The planting variety provides great attraction for wildlife in particular butterflies, bees, and birds."
Harvey summed up at the end of the report: "The horticultural expertise contributed is evident throughout the garden and is of the highest quality - itself worthy of a 'gold' accolade.
"The whole team that are part of the delivery, maintenance and support of the Sitooterie together bring the synergy that all successful ventures display.This culminates in a most successful achievement that gives immense pleasure to the many people who visit and benefit from your efforts, in so many ways."
"You have a winning formula which you can hopefully pass on to other generations to ensure the longevity of the Sitooterie, for years to come. It was a pleasure and honour to meet you all."
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It was presented to groups displaying continuous improvements over a four-year period and was joined in the distinction by Raasay Walled Garden. Let's Grow Ballifeary-Bught achieved a Level 4 Thriving certificate.
Raasay Walled Garden was also recognised with a Certificate of Recognition in the NatureScot It’s Your Neighbourhood Pollinator Friendly Award.
The 2023 Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood annual seminar and celebration event took place virtually yesterday and recognised the passion, commitment, and positive action taken by 208 groups from 27 local authority areas across Scotland.
Juliette Camburn, senior community initiatives officer with Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Our annual celebration of the inspiring efforts of people across Scotland who work tirelessly to improve their own neighbourhoods and communities is always such a happy event.
“Each and every It’s Your Neighbourhood entrant recognised has made a lasting contribution, however small or large to combat climate change, restore nature and biodiversity, tackle litter and improve the places they care for.
“I’d like to congratulate and thank all entrants, alongside the 27 volunteers we work with, for all they do to make their community a cleaner, greener and more sustainable place.”
It’s Your Neighbourhood is Keep Scotland Beautiful’s community environmental improvement initiative which is managed in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
It runs alongside Beautiful Scotland but is non-competitive and is based on the three pillars of community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening achievement.
Jim Jeffrey, pollinator strategy manager with NatureScot said: “Community groups and gardeners are in the front line helping our hard-pressed pollinators. The high standard of entries in this year’s It’s Your Neighbourhood Pollinator Friendly Award is evidence of a range of impressive projects helping our vital pollinating insects.
"Viewed individually they are fantastic, and viewed as a whole they contribute to the creation of expanding green corridors in our communities. It is increasingly clear that making space for nature in our gardens, allotments, greenspaces and communities is good news for people and pollinators.”
A full list of entrants and their achievements can be found at: www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/IYN
Any group who would like to join Keep Scotland Beautiful’s It’s Your Neighbourhood initiative can email email@example.com