Who are our volunteers?

Flanders Moss, Blawhorn Moss & Loch Lomond NNR

Meet Ralph – one of ‘2 Bogs, a swamp and some islands’ long term volunteer.

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“I first volunteered on Flanders Moss about 12 years ago with Scottish Wildlife Trust and SNH, lured by the offer of taking home a free organic foraged Christmas Tree. Little did I realise that ‘free’ meant a long challenging walk in, chopping down a couple of hundred other pines, enduring freezing temperatures, driving rain, and strong winds, and then hauling a scraggy tree a couple of miles back home! But I’ve stuck at it, and been volunteering on a more regular basis with SNH for the last couple of years.

More seriously, Scotland’s wild land has always been a major draw for me, and I get a lot out of it, so volunteering gives an opportunity to put a little bit back. Whilst I do bits and pieces on mountain land  for the John Muir Trust and National Trust for Scotland, Flanders is on my doorstep and bogs are both a bit different and need friends. The history and geology of the area is fascinating too, be it the Norwegian tsunami or the former moss owners, the monks of Inchmahome.

Regular volunteering leads to some bonus wildlife sightings, be it the osprey soap opera, building homes for adders, or the recent star appearance of a very relaxed short-eared owl. You also get the chance to meet experts from other organisations, such as the British Dragonfly Society, although I’ll leave the different types of mosses to the specialists. Other volunteers and SNH staff also have much interesting information to share.

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Short eared owl

Whilst Flanders has been my primary interest, I’ve learnt a lot about other local National Nature Reserves, Loch Lomond and the north bank of the Endrick in particular, along with the smaller islands on the loch. It has been satisfying to judge the positive impact that many volunteers have had on controlling Himalayan balsam – it looks daunting but it does work – also the excitement of hunting the elusive American skunk cabbage cannot be underestimated.

And there’s the cake…

If you would like to volunteer with us, there is a list of practical tasks we will be carrying out in the next couple of months every Wednesday”.

Email for more information: stirlingnnrs@snh.gov.uk 

It has been a pleasure having Ralph volunteering with SNH. Over the last couple of years whilst working with us not only has he been extremely hard working and playing a huge part in conservation and habitat restoration work on his local National Nature Reserves, he has played a key role in giving me (Reserve officer) confidence – one being in a field/water bay at Loch Lomond with cows and bulls, he has taught me history of the land on where he lives that borders Flanders Moss and shares that knowledge with other volunteers, He is awesome at building a fire and his GPS reading was second to none in leading a straight line searching for Skunk Cabbage in a really thick dense swampy woodland.

From the NNR Team and from the rest of SNH we thank you for all your hard work.

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