West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

A Promise to a Bee

He raises his foot, in anticipation of the pain that never comes, as the familiar sound of a buzzing bee in panic is heard and felt beneath his foot. Once stung twice shy - being more of a rule of thumb than a casual saying with barefoot walkers. Now feeling somewhat guilty at his clumsy intrusion, he examines the unfortunate casualty that’s still struggling to regain composure. “Believe it or not, this is your lucky day” the man jokes aloud as he lifts the un-amused and bewildered bee with one hand while reaching into his bag for a small jar of honey with the other - a rare treat only ever carried on long arduous days such as this.
West Stormont Woodland Group - Bee

The bee – a tree bumble bee – soon begins lapping at the honey with its long tongue. He smiles – the man that is! – at the irony of the moment, as he ponders what universal forces conspired to bring about this unexpected meeting. His joy however is short-lived, as the immensity of the moment envelops him.Realised now – the innocent action of standing on the unsuspecting bee, now symbolic of the unrelenting destruction of nature under the trampling foot of humanity. 

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry we never lived up to our end of the deal. I’m sorry we are still taking everything and giving nothing back. I’m sorry we never listened soon enough when you called out for help. I suppose you’ll tell me the answer to our problems was right under our feet – eh!”- half expecting the bee to buzz loudly in agreement. “You deserve better from us. We can be better – we will be better – I promise you!”

“I just hope we’re not too late to save us both”he murmurs softly to himself, watching the now re-energised bee fly away. 

Insect apocalypse

It is impossible to over-exaggerate the impact on humanity if this global “insect apocalypse”, as it’s been termed, continues un-checked. Although we have known for decades of the insect declines, alarm bells started ringing in 2017 after long-term scientific research carried out in Germany found insect Biomass (living weight) of flying insects had declined by three quarters over a 27-year period, with numbers still in free fall by 2.5% annually. Studies in other countries have found even steeper declines. The UK has proven to be no exception. Globally we are losing around 250 million tonnes of insects per year. 

Because insects underpin our global ecosystems – the very basis of our life support system – the implications of continued insect declines just don’t bear thinking about, not least the cascading effect of ecosystem collapse and vanishing food resources across the planet, and the acceleration of irreversible global warming.

Wild bee pollination alone contributes to around 85% of global crops. Even the humble dung beetles in UK pastures provide a staggering £367M a year in ecosystem services to the cattle industry, ranging from dung recycling, soil improvement and disease prevention, not forgetting carbon sequestration. Yet some dung beetle species are now extinct, with several others on the edge.  

Hidden treasures

Incredibly, WSWG surveys in Taymount Wood recently discovered a species of dung beetle (one of 8 beetle and 6 bee species) found nowhere else in Tayside. Several other species found were only previously recorded in a handful of locations across Scotland. These recent discoveries – which may well be the tip of the iceberg of what lies hidden within Taymount and Five Mile Wood – have re-emphasised the critical need to protect the ecological integrity of the woodlands before these living treasures are lost forever under inappropriate and destructive commercial forestry management, typical with private sector woodland purchases. 

Emergency Action

If successful in the woodland purchase, WSWG aims to implement comprehensive emergency action to establish several Nature Recovery Zones under the woodland management plan, in conjunction with retaining thousands of mature trees to allow the woodlands to function as nature intended. Thus establishing a protected refuge for Biodiversity for future generations.  Further surveys are planned throughout the summer for both woodlands where people can join in and help. No experience is necessary. Dates and arrangements will be announced in due course.

West Stormont Woodland Group - Speckled Beetle
A rare Speckled Longhorn beetle on oxeye daisy. Its larvae are dependant upon decaying wood.

How you can help insects

  • Ditch the chemicals
  • Turn off/remove Garden lighting where not needed. Billions of insects die annually from light pollution and it’s the easiest pollution to stop. New legislation has been introduced across Europe to limit the power of outside lighting. The UK is dragging its heels on this issue.
  • Grass lawns are almost devoid of life, cover up to 20% of urban areas and their maintenance is a serious polluter of the environment. Convert lawn where possible and allow diversity. Clover feeds the lawn with nitrogen and bees with nectar.
  • Welcome Weeds. A weed is simply a plant whose virtues have yet to be realised!  98% of insect herbivores can only feed on a small number of native plants they have evolved with, so diversity is crucial. Dandelions are an important resource for bees in early spring and the seeds are loved by goldfinches. They are also beautiful and listed in the top 10 most nutritious plants on Earth – saving you money. Re-define your relationship with native plants and reap the rewards.
  • Stop Burning vegetation. The pollution is a serious greenhouse gas. Compost instead and create habitat piles for insects and other wildlife.
  • Nature Needs Half. No garden is too small to set aside space for nature. Start compost piles/habitat piles, allow patches of grasses, wildflowers, nettles etc to grow and flower. Moth and butterfly caterpillars feed on them, wildlife shelters and overwinters amongst them. Leave a 1m un-cut buffer around trees/shrubs, lamp posts, fence lines, etc when cutting grass. Many insects overwinter in the rough ground below trees. 
  • Grow your own food. This can not only increase biodiversity in the garden, but also reduces subsidising industrial agriculture – a major threat to life on earth. 
  • Plant a wildflower meadow – of any size, or simply dig over a patch of grass and allow the wild flowers to regenerate. You’ll be amazed at what comes up. Most are also edible and highly nutritious. Size matters – the smallest and unassuming wild flowers attract many rare and beautiful bees and moths. 
  • Complain to local authorities when they cut green spaces unnecessarily and use toxic chemicals. Protect your local patch.
West Stormont Woodland Group - Butterfly
Orange tip butterfly on apple blossom. They lay their eggs on (caterpillar food plant) cuckoo flower, garlic mustard and related plants.

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Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

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Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

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Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

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Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

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