The communities within the Breich Valley area have been faced with a number of issues surrounding declining community facilities, anti-social behaviour, environmental quality and unemployment. The Breich Valley Villages Gateway Project sought to redress these issues by enhancing the local landscape and providing training opportunities for local volunteers.
The project explored the opportunities to enhance the gateways and approaches to a number of Breich Valley villages in West Lothian. This would be delivered through a number of simple greening measures including, tree and hedge planting, maintenance and enhancement of existing shelter belts and hedgerows and through path works and fencing where appropriate.
In early 2010 the Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) produced a report on Environmental Opportunities and Proposals for Fauldhouse and the Breich Valley Ward. A number of priority sites already been identified in this report and the purpose of this new project was to take this initial scoping exercise a stage further.
Mark Hamilton Landscape Services was commissioned to conduct a site survey at each of the 14 sites identified in the initial CSFT report. This survey looked at, existing planting and access, soils, services, constraints and landowner willingness. The opportunities for the enhancement and management of each site were then assessed and recommendations were given along with an indicative budget.
A wide range of opportunities were identified; many capable of being implemented, at least in part, by trainees. These opportunities included hedgerow and tree planting, fence removal and renewal and small scale woodland management.
Of the initial 14 sites, 5 were identified as being suitable for enhancement. Proposals for these 5 sites were then developed, detailing estimated costs, the materials needed and the preferred method of delivery.
If fully implemented, the project would have delivered the following outputs:
It was also hoped that the project would provide training opportunities for 12 volunteers from the Future Jobs Fund.
The implementation the project would have helped to deliver the goal of enhancing the landscape setting of small and medium sized towns in Central Scotland.
Furthermore, by linking fragmented woodlands, restoring shelter belts, gapping-up hedgerows and creating new linear woodlands, the project would have helped to integrate habitat networks at a landscape scale.
Finally, the project sought to provide opportunities for local trainees to develop practical woodland management and forestry experience.
CSGN funding enabled the CSFT to prepare five fully costed projects, which could be implemented should funding become available. If fully implemented, these projects will contribute towards the development of integrated habitat networks, the provision of greenspace for living and the provision of employment and training.
The recommendations identified in the CSGN funded study have not yet been implemented as the project has struggled to secure funding. In addition, the Future Jobs Fund is no longer operational and is, therefore, unable to supply the volunteers necessary to implement the project. As a result of these problems, stakeholder interest has waned and the project is no longer considered to be a high priority. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this may change if further funding streams become available.