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Spring at the Bing

Saturday 12th March Forthside ‘Bing’ Event

We recently held a tree planting and care event at Forthside on a patch of land near The Peak. This adjoins the strip of woodland at Old Harbour Wood between Vue Cinema and the River Forth, where we have been working previously. We are calling this area Forthside ‘Bing’ meadow and although it is not technically a bing (an industrial spoil heap), this is a nod to the brownfield nature of the site which was previously under MOD ownership. Although copses of willow have developed here naturally, a rubble mound and patches of bare artificial substrate are reminders of its former use.

While brownfield sites may appear a little tarnished by their past, their former uses often allow novel, biodiverse ecosystems to develop. In fact these sites can support many rare and declining species and can be particularly valuable to invertebrates. The thin soils prevent fast-growing competitive plants, like grasses, from taking over and allow varied communities of plants, including many wild flowers, to develop. These brownfield habitat mosaics have been included on the Scottish Biodiversity list in recognition of their importance to wildlife. At Forthside there is an interesting mix of damp patches in hollows and at the river edge, willow woodland and open areas, where a number of wildflowers and pollinators can be seen in summer.

Our plan for the day was to complement the existing habitats, maintaining open areas and views rather than trying to create complete woodland cover. Stirling Council supplied us with small flowering trees and shrubs, which we added to the existing woodland edge.

Despite the dull and showery weather, a steady trickle of volunteers quickly formed themselves into an effective tree planting team, successfully planting all the grey willow, crab apple, rowan and bird cherry saplings. We also removed old guards where previously planted trees hadn’t made it in the poor soil and put mulch mats around some trees to reduce competition from vigorous grasses strangling their roots.

As the weather improved we were treated to incredible views of the River Forth, with the Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig and the Ochil hills in the background.

In future we aim to maintain the open meadow areas, create a bee bank and coppice the willow woodland as well as looking after the trees we have planted. Other tasks include adding signage, interpretation and seating to allow visitors to enjoy the colour of wild flowers, the buzz of insects and those excellent views across the Forth Valley to the Ochils. So look out for future events and thanks to everyone who joined us on Saturday!

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