Edinburgh Shoreline Project

2017-11-01 02:54:14

A city that turned its back on the sea

For some reason vaguely connected with my past involvement in improving Edinburgh’s biodiversity, including two years developing the city council’s Urban Forestry Strategy in the 1990s, I decided to cycle along its 27 km coastline. There were many stretches I hadn’t seen for about 10 years and I was pretty knocked out by what I found. Two things struck me in particular. Going to the beach ‘Going to the Beach’, a bronze sculpture by Vincent F Butler © Karen Chambers The first was the significant reduction in public access to the shoreline, in particular in places like Granton and Leith Docks. I came across a bronze sculpture which I think sums this up. This happy family is apparently heading down a pedestrian walk that was originally described as ‘a tree-lined avenue to the beach’ but in fact terminated in locked rusty gates and a kind of tip. Secondly I had the overwhelming sense of a land in waiting. Edinburgh’s shoreline could be an incredible resource that is increasingly rich in flora and fauna. It feels like it is holding its breath for an uncertain future between changing development proposals and unpredictable tidal activity due to climate change. While I had been conscious when looking for a second hand car and going to ASDA in Leith how much the city had turned its back on the sea, I hadn’t realised the extent of this land caught in limbo, adrift between a long post-war recession and an uncertain economic future. I discovered there is no specific mention of the shoreline in either Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan or the Locality Improvement Plan for the north west of the city. And the Edinburgh Waterfront website only seems to mention individual development opportunities. This lack of attention is disappointing, given that the shoreline represents the coastal boundary of a major capital city. Most people strolling along Silverknowes, having coffee at Cramond or a pint in Portobello appear to know little of the area’s rich heritage. They simply accept the status quo, and assume this is what the coast is – nice for a brief visit to take in the view but nothing special. One of the drivers of this disconnect is probably the relative inaccessibility of much of the interesting parts of the coast and its history. However while much of the coast is now fenced off, and many local beaches are pretty uninviting, people seem to be undaunted by this. Maybe this is because they are the only local places where you can still hear and see the sea, even if you have to climb over or on top of the mounds of rubble, or break through fences to reach it. For example, at Wardie Bay I spotted a family attempting to picnic on the paltry remains of a previously much larger beach. And it is used by local people for Diwali celebrations And one of the very first people I encountered on my journey was a man who said he came down to the shore every day in his lunch time to watch the kingfisher and otter that he knows live in Victoria Quay right beside the Scottish Government offices. Internationally important environment and heritage The whole of Edinburgh’s shoreline lies within The Firth of Forth SPA and SSSI. This area is particularly special because of the internationally important numbers of waders including lapwing, curlew and red-throated diver. Red-throated diver Red-throated diver © Ómar Runólfsson Unfortunately, like the habitats that support them, many of the Forth’s species are now in unfavourable condition, and there has been a general net loss of habitat along its coast. This situation is likely to be further exacerbated through the inevitable narrowing of the intertidal zone due to rising sea levels and the resulting need for a grey barrage of sea defences if all the planned development on the water’s edge goes ahead. The environmental history of the area is fairly well recorded. Scotland’s Historiographer Royal in Professor Chris Smout writes that in 1726 when Daniel Defoe crossed at Queensferry “in a little Norway yawl” there were so many herring that the boys in the boat were catching them and throwing them aboard with their bare hands. And in 1889 an immense shoal of 230 million young whiting arrived in the Forth that stretched 36 miles from Oscar Rocks west of Granton to the far side of the Isle of May. In the 19th century there were even 50 square miles of oyster beds off Edinburgh, possibly the largest area in Britain. Following a rapid decline they were thought to be completely absent until 2009, when a few were found not far from Edinburgh’s coast. Edinburgh’s shoreline is also internationally famous for its geology and geomorphology. South Queensferry has exposures illustrating a range of nationally important volcanic features. Granton Shore yielded the first ever recognised body fossils of the conodont fish, a precursor to the lamprey. And at least eighteen species of ‘fossil fish’ have been discovered at Wardie Bay, including good examples of prehistoric sharks, plus some of Europe’s earliest amphibian remains. Even though a few local groups such as the Granton and Portobello history societies are doing sterling work with very limited resources to research and conserve some of their local heritage, so much of the social history has been forgotten. It has either been buried, like the archaeological remains under the Granton harbour infill, or like the Martello tower at Leith Docks, is no longer accessible to the public. Turning back the tide Exploring the shoreline and talking to people I met along the way made me really want to do something about it. I enlisted the help of two friends, Leonie Alexander, Biodiversity Officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh who is part of Edinburgh Living Landscape, and Elspeth Wills, a local historian and author of The Briggers: The Story of the Men Who Built the Forth Bridge. Barren sea defences Barren sea defences at Platinum Point © Karen Chambers After two years of hard graft and enthusiasm, and with the support of major organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Scottish Seabird Centre, we have finally received enough funding from the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund (GICEF) and the Heritage Lottery Fund to make a difference. Clearly some of the major issues, based around economic development, transport and sea defences, are out of our control, but we can try to enthuse and involve as many people as possible and raise awareness of the incredible diversity of species and trades that used to thrive along this shoreline. We do this in the hope that they are celebrated and incorporated into whatever happens in the future and that people living along the shoreline and elsewhere will become more engaged, and able to complement and input to the currently broad brush development proposals. We also hope to raise awareness of the Natural Capital standard for application to future developments.

2018-01-01 02:54:14

Pre-project research

Over the last two years we have amassed an amazing amount of information – more than enough to stimulate delight, engagement and desire to follow any of the many fascinating threads. Two consultation exercises have been carried out for us by the OPERAs project through The University of Edinburgh. One of these asked people in shoreline communities to visualise their ideal local environment in 50 years’ time, the other was an MSc project that involved interviewing a wide range of people in the centre of the city and along the shoreline about their knowledge of, and relationship to the coast. The final analysis of both of these will be completed at the end of 2018 but early results demonstrate a genuine desire from people for new developments to take the environment into account, as well as a greater network of paths, places for wildlife to thrive, and greater recognition of the mental and physical benefits of being by the coast. Pupils from Craigroyston schools have taken part in a National Environment Research Council (NERC) funded project to promote awareness of coastal climate change and demonstrate ways of providing new habitats for marine species in coastal defences. The project combined art, ecology, engineering and bio-geomorphology. The children designed and created artificial habitats to attach to coastal defences which included strap-on rock pools, and tiles made with different compositions and surfaces to find out which would colonise most quickly. Researchers and policy makers were brought together in a joint workshop with Edinburgh Adapts. This looked at how the coast may change and how the changes could benefit people and wildlife. The latest data for sea level rises shocked most of those present.

2018-03-23 02:54:14

An exciting project ahead!

Our programme for 2018 involves linking professionals, artists and professional organisations with local communities to investigate and celebrate the shoreline’s rich history and biodiversity, and also to consider current and future pressures and changes to initiate dialogues about imagining future possibilities. Children learning about the shore Children learning about the shore. Image by Scottish Wildlife Trust We will provide resources and expertise to the shoreline communities to develop projects important to them – relating for example to access, local history and shoreline species. The centre piece of the project is a major shoreline exhibition in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s John Hope Gateway during the 2018 Edinburgh Festival. Images, films, information and ideas generated from shoreline communities here and in other countries will be presented to create an immersive, exciting experience. The exhibition will be complemented by workshops in the Real Science room, a coastal species garden, seminars, seafood fare in the restaurants and cafes, and potentially donkey rides and rock! We also hope to organise a series of shoreline events and installations such as a drop-in display of endangered coastal species. The Shoreline Project is a fairly ambitious first step. We hope it will lead to better connections, participation and knowledge, and ultimately the more robust beautiful and diverse shoreline that our capital city deserves. Gradually, we can finally help the city of Edinburgh turn back towards the sea.

2018-06-02 13:14:05

Wardie Bay SOS #SaveOurSeas

Wardie Bay SOS #SaveOurSeas Well, we might not have had blazing sunshine for our SOS event on Saturday 23 June, but neither did we have the thunderstorms of the previous Saturday! We were at Wardie Beach with Wardie Bay Beachwatch and local residents to do a beach clean and survey for the Marine Conservation Society. What did we find? The usual horrors: wet wipes galore, small plastic items such as bottle lids and cotton bud sticks and even a syringe needle! Grim. But these need not be the usual horrors – we can, and will, combat the tide of plastic pollution. That’s why we followed up our litter pick by spelling out ‘SOS’ across the beach: #SaveOurSeas. We filmed the whole escapade from the sky with a drone! It’s time to tell the world that enough is enough. See our message at the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition from 28 July.

2018-06-23 13:14:05

Our exhibition is open!

The day is finally here, the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition is open! We have been working hard with our exhibition designer The Port Creative to bring you an engaging and thought-provoking display on the Edinburgh shoreline; it’s important history, how the area has developed over time, and the unique landscape which supports a wealth of different species and makes the area internationally important for wildlife. We’ve also explored the challenges our shoreline faces and looked at the creative ways that other cities around the world have embraced their proximity to the sea. We’re currently working with 6 community groups from along the shoreline to create their own displays, which will be added to the exhibition from 28 July. We have a really interesting mix of creative projects coming up for visitors to see, such as a knitted display of species such as seaweeds found along our coast and recreations of the songs of the Newhaven fishwives! The exhibition is on show at the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh until 23 September. Entry is free.

2018-06-30 13:14:05

Image search for new creative map

Over the next six weeks we are mapping and recording your experiences of Edinburgh’s 27 kilometres of shoreline. We want to know: How do you use it? What’s important and what’s not? Are there hidden gems that other people should know about? Or is there something that needs improved? You will find us at: The Wash House, 3 Adelphi Grove, EH15 1AP 7th August from 4-7pm Craigentinny Community Centre 9 Loaning Road, EH7, 8th August from 4-7pm Rosebery Hall South Queensferry, 7 West Terrace EH30 14 August from 4-7pm Granton Hub, 33 Granton Park Ave, EH5 21st August from 4-7pm Don’t worry if you cannot make one of the events, you can still take part in the project: just post an image from you phone or camera, ideally with a couple of lines about why you chose it, and we will highlight on the map.

2018-06-30 13:14:05

Shoreline drone film

Ever wondered what the Edinburgh shoreline looks like from the sky? Wonder no more, just click the link to see footage captured for us by the UK Drone Co. HINT: It looks amazing!

2018-07-27 13:01:46

A great launch event

Many thanks to all who joined us on Friday 27th July to celebrate the official launch of community input to the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Whether we have been highlighting the problem of plastic pollution, revisiting old traditions, discovering species on derelict land, celebrating the coast as a place of recreation or knitting the forth rail bridge (!) it has been a pleasure to work alongside local community groups to make our exhibition a reality and it was great to see their finished displays in the gallery space. They all look great! You can see the exhibition in the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh until 23 September. The exhibition is open daily and free to enter. Many thanks to the lovely Julie and Alanna of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home for their picture.

2018-08-01 22:19:23

Participatory mapping

Many thanks to those who have joined us in our first three participatory mapping sessions. It’s been really worthwhile capturing your views on the Edinburgh shoreline, memories from the past and completely inspiring to hear your visions for the future. With this information we’ll be creating a new artwork: a map, but a very different kind of map, one which highlights the human experience of the shoreline, from the point of view of the people who live and work on it.

2018-08-11 22:19:23

South Queensferry’s historic vennel

If you’ve been reading the ‘Communities’ section of our website, or visited the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, you’ll know that the Green Ferry Trust have been working hard to restore the historic vennel area of South Queensferry. They’ve provided us with a quick update on the progress of work to create a beautiful green space for the local community: In July 2018 phase 2 of the development started. The area to the south of the existing site required a substantial amount of remedial work given its many years of neglect. This important step will provide an impressive 600 sq.metres of community green space, giving residents of all age groups the opportunity to spend more time outside engaging with the local environment and enjoying incredible views of the historic forth bridges. On 11th August they held a launch event for local families. GreenFerry committee spent a lovely day celebrating the fruits of their labour and all that been achieved with the transformation so far! A special thanks to committee member Fiona for organising local choir ‘Sing in the City’ – this really made the day. As you can see from the photos, they had great fun! The Edinburgh Shoreline project is looking forward to working with the Green Ferry Trust over the next few months to help plant the garden – we are providing Scottish wildflowers and coastal plants found elsewhere on the Edinburgh shoreline to help create a species-rich and diverse garden that suits its surroundings.

2018-08-18 22:19:23

Newhaven Community Choir sing at the Botanics

Newhaven Community Choir entertained visitors at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Monday (20 August) with traditional fishwives songs as part of Edinburgh Shoreline, an exciting project to regenerate natural habitats along the city’s coastline. The choir performed songs including ‘Caller Herrin’, based on the traditional street cry of the Newhaven fishwives as they carried fresh fish from Newhaven Harbour up to Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and ‘Caller Ou’, a common street cry among the fish sellers of Newhaven, advertising fresh oysters to the Edinburgh public. The backdrop for their performance was the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the Garden’s John Hope Gateway. It will run until 28 October. Schools, community groups and individuals who care about the local environment and heritage have joined together to regenerate natural habitats along Edinburgh’s 27km coastline from Port Edgar to Joppa. By connecting with scientists and conservationists in the Shoreline project everyone who lives, works or plays in the area has the chance to celebrate the area’s relationship with the sea and the plants and animals to be found along the coast. Project Manager Charlotte Johnson, based at RBGE, said: “The Edinburgh Shoreline project is very much a community affair and it is very fitting that Newhaven Community Choir has come along today to perform songs that would have been sung by local fishwives when fishing was a thriving industry in the capital.’’ She added: “Over many decades, Edinburgh’s relationship with the sea has weakened, to the detriment of its citizens, landscapes, plants and wildlife. Our coast is now a strange mix of areas of dereliction, industry, forgotten beaches, with new developments and fresh possibilities.’’ As part of their involvement with the Edinburgh Shoreline project the choir has been able to record a CD of these songs with the accompaniment of traditional musicians. The CD will be available later this year. The groundswell of public pressure to reduce plastic waste is being supported by Sodexo Prestige, the company which provides catering, event, cleaning and waste management services at the Botanics. It is actively keen to prove and promote its global and local sustainable credentials within its activities at the Garden. Account Manager Paul Mitchell explained: “This focus over the course of this year, has been particularly aimed at the reduction and eventual elimination of all single use plastics across all our operations within the Garden; providing alternatives which will undoubtedly deliver benefits for all those using the wonderful facilities at the Garden and which underpins a better environment for everyone.’’ The Shoreline project has been developed by Karen Chambers, Vice Chair of Scottish Wildlife Trust; historian and researcher Elspeth Wills and Leonie Alexander, Urban Biodiversity Project Officer who wanted to see Edinburgh’s profile raised as a coastal city. It is now being headed-up by RBGE and its partners in Edinburgh Living Landscape (ELL). The Shoreline sets out to be a fun-laden adventure tackling serious challenges faced by all inhabiting the coast. Ultimately its aim is to deliver a legacy for the human, animal and plant communities from South Queensferry to Joppa. This initiative is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund, administered by Scottish Natural Heritage on behalf of the Scottish Government.

2018-08-19 22:19:23

Fun with fish on the Forth

Last night, Wardie Bay in Granton played host to a bunch of enthusiastic novices and a few enthusiastic professionals on the hunt for fish in the Forth. Dr Alastair Lyndon, a Marine Biologist from Heriot Watt University donned his wetsuit and wrangled a seine net to help us uncover a surprisingly broad array of marine life in the shallows at low tide. Alastair walked out to about knee depth and was helped by the crowd to drag the net back in to the shore. Adults and children alike trawled through the seaweed and the species that we uncovered were: shore crabs, flounder, sea squirts, a beautiful plaice, squid egg sacs, herring (the silver darlings upon which much of the historic Edinburgh fishing industry was based), sprats, goby and a pipe fish (that caused much excitement). Many of us were surprised by the amount and variety of fish that we found so close to the shore, and on our very doorstep. Finally, you’ll be pleased to know that all fish were released back in to the water.

2018-09-15 22:19:23

Harvest time at Granton Castle Walled Garden

It has been great this last month for Granton Castle Walled Garden to share their first harvests from the garden in local community cafe & garden venues around Granton, Pilton and Muirhouse; encouraging people to grow their own and raising awareness of the amazing green resource being restored by community members on the shore for all to enjoy. GCWG would like to thank Sheila Wong for the saved courgette seeds; which resulted in a bumper crop of all shapes, colours and sizes. Why not pop down to Granton Castle Walled Garden to see some of the fruits of their labours for yourself? You can also sign up to become a volunteer! 1st September from 12-2pm – Open Saturday, bring a picnic, pick your own brambles, pop-up cafe and plant stall. 29th September from 12-4pm – Cockburn Association Door’s Open Day. Granton Castle Walled Garden, West Shore Road, Granton, Edinburgh, EH5 1QJ.

2018-10-01 22:19:23

Hawthorn Bank Community Garden

Watch this great new drone footage (by Dr Lubino do Rego) of Hawthorn Bank Community Garden, which has just reopened to the public, as well as great views of South Queensferry. We’ll be working with the GreenFerry Trust, who look after the garden, over the next few months to help plant up the garden with native Scottish coastal wildflowers.

2018-10-01 22:19:23

Waders’ Lullaby

Those who have visited the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (on until 28 October) will have seen beautiful prints by artist Fiona McAndrew of wading birds she has observed on the Firth of Forth. Fiona has written a blog post on the research that went into making her work and in particular a video she has produced for a piece of her original music ‘Waders’ Lullaby’. Read Fiona’s update here: http://www.fionamcandrew.co.uk/making-of/ For those of you who would like to find out more about the internationally important populations of wintering birds found in Edinburgh please see the Events section of this website where you can sign up to a Shoreline winter bird walk on 10th November.

2018-10-01 22:19:23

Shoreline wildlife watch

Some Portobello parents and their wee ones are hoping to set up their own Wildlife Watch group and are looking for help. If you’re interested in helping youngsters enjoy and explore the amazing nature found on our Edinburgh coastline then please get in touch with Liz. All details available on the attached poster.

2018-10-13 22:19:23

Our exhibition is on the move

Over the past 4 months, tens of thousands of people have seen the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition while on display at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. We’ve had lots of nice feedback about the exhibition, so we thought it would be a good to allow more people to see it! Six community groups produced a display for the exhibition, telling a story they felt was important to them: herring and oyster fishing in Newhaven & using derelict land for a community garden in Granton to name a few… We’ll be taking these displays on the road during the months of November and December, and we hope you get to see them at a venue near you soon! Portobello Library, 5-23 November Victoria Primary School Newhaven, 5-30 November North Edinburgh Arts, 26 November-8 December Rosebery Hall South Queensferry, 3-20 December Leith Library, 10-31 December

2018-11-01 22:19:23

Shoreline documentary teaser video

Our Edinburgh Shoreline documentary is almost complete, and we’re delighted to share this sneak preview with you! Over the past 6 months the incredibly talented Margarita, Josefa and Fraser of Shakehaus http://www.shakehaus.com/ have been following the Edinburgh Shoreline project to document our journey. They have caught on film our community engagement events (from choir performances to rockpooling!), captured our beautiful landscapes and interviewed local residents to find out what is so special about our 27km of coastline and how we must protect it for the future. We’re pleased to share with you this sneak preview, and cannot wait to show you the finished documentary – coming soon!

2018-12-14 22:19:23

Artecology on BBC’s Countryfile

We hope you were all watching Countryfile last night and spotted Artecology’s vertipools! Here’s a handy link if not (minute 27-34): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bvgw3r/countryfile-isle-of-wight?fbclid=IwAR0wKaQJAzloqnxnuPD5Uda8eckE8D6Gw2leub-7GfbhajSlGamg3oqW7PY Did you know that in the pilot stage of the Edinburgh Shoreline project we (along with Artecology, Concrete in the Classroom, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and local schools) installed some vertipools and biodiversity tiles on the sea defences at Cramond? We’ve also been developing some more tiles with Craigroyston High and Leith Academy in September of this year. Find out more here: https://edinburghlivinglandscape.org.uk/project/grey-to-green/?fbclid=IwAR1CrXYg3qD9U1KT0u_dudkD-Jt08LiOfwgleV-wHbcrbgLy4ecThTsZPFs

2019-03-01 22:19:23

Shoreline GIS data

The Edinburgh Shoreline team recently visited the Central Scotland Green Network Trust to view a map they had pulled together of lots of different types of data which related to our shoreline; the map showed locations of hard sea defences, different habitats both natural and man made, access points to green space, active travel routes and more. All of the data is currently available to the public in various places, but they had pulled it together into one place! What a fantastic resource! On Thursday 21st March we held a Green Tease event, led by our friends at Creative Carbon Scotland, to look at the map and think about how we might use it to identify areas of opportunity on our coastline. For example, we looked at all of the green spaces near to the coast, such an abundance of little pockets! We discussed ways in which we could potentially connect up these little pockets into green corridors, which would be better habitat for wildlife and also increase the green space available for people. Huge thanks from us to Gemma of Creative Carbon Scotland for facilitating such an interesting activity, which stimulated lots of discussion. We would encourage Edinburgh shoreline locals to use the data available to think about their local patch, and how, together, through community action and campaign, we can make improvements for people and wildlife. We heard from three wonderful speakers Karen Bates (Wardie Bay Beachwatch), Louise Knight (Granton Hub) and Willie Black (Granton Hub History Society) on how they and the groups they represent have gotten involved in creating a brighter future for their area. It is our ambition that in the near future we will be able to share the fully interactive map with you, whereby viewers can click onto each of the layers they are interested in (such as highlighting all the core paths along the waterfront, or highlighting all of the designated historical sites), on the map section of this website. In the meantime, please use the links below to reach each of the individuals maps that might interest you. Greenspace and greenspace access points from Scotland’s Greenspace Map: https://www.greenspacescotland.org.uk/greenspace-map Habitat Map Of Scotland: http://gateway.snh.gov.uk/natural-spaces/index.jsp Historic Environment Scotland data including Properties in Care, Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, World Heritage Sites, Gardens and Designed Landscapes: https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/spatialdownloads Vacant and Derelict Land: http://www.spatialhub.scot/get-data/ Central Scotland Green Network Strategic Routes: http://gateway.snh.gov.uk/natural-spaces/index.jsp or https://www.nature.scot/csgn-map-current-and-potential-future-routes Scottish Natural Heritage Designated sites: http://gateway.snh.gov.uk/natural-spaces/index.jsp Public Core Paths: http://www.spatialhub.scot/get-data/ National Coastal Change Assessment (Future Look 2050, Future Look 2100, Scotland Change 1890 – 1970, Scotland Change 1970 – Modern, Scotland MHWS 1890, Scotland MHWS 1970, Scotland MHWS Modern): http://www.dynamiccoast.com/

2019-03-01 22:19:23

Our 1st birthday event!

How time flies when you’re having fun! On Saturday 2nd March we held a celebration event to mark the first anniversary of the project. At the event we launched our project documentary, community map and oral history interviews. Many thanks for the 100 people who came along and helped to make it such an enjoyable day. Our documentary film, which charts what we have been up to over the last year, as well as local people’s vision for the future of our shoreline, was very well received. We are delighted to be able to share it with you now! Just follow the link to see why the Edinburgh shoreline is so special: https://youtu.be/i4G8jqpgu70 Our sincerest thanks go to both René Sommer Lindsay, who gave an interesting talk on how Copenhagen is adapting to climate change, and Emily O’Brien, who spoke about the work of Seafield Shoreline who are improving planting and habitats in Seafield, Edinburgh. Thanks also to Dr Larissa Naylor (University of Glasgow), Ben Macpherson MSP and Paul Lawrence (City of Edinburgh Council) who took part in a panel discussion on the future of our coast – thank you all for taking time out of your weekends to speak with local community members who hugely value the area where they live and work.

2019-03-02 05:49:46

Seafield Prom mural unveiled

We are over the moon to launch a new mural at Seafield Prom in collaboration with Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, artists Katie and Emma of Studio N_Name and local residents. In Spring last year the Edinburgh Shoreline project hosted a walk along Seafield Prom to look at the plant species present there, and to plan to plant up some areas of amenity grassland with Scottish wildflowers to improve the space for people and wildlife. The walk was attended by lots of interested members of the public and some staff from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. While on the walk many people commented on the graffiti on the walls along the prom and the fact that the area was quite unpleasant on the eye, despite the fact that it’s a heavily used active travel route for both walkers (particularly dog walkers) and cyclists. A plan was formulated – perhaps we could paint a mural to brighten up the area and celebrate the amazing landscape around us in the artwork?! Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home had a wall we could use and loved the idea! It’s great to have such a community-focused business like Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home who could really see the benefits of sprucing up the area and wanted to get hands-on. We appointed artists Studio N_Name and began community consultations. We hosted a session at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and did pop-up stalls along the prom to ask members of the public what they would like the artwork to reflect. Popular answers included the marine environment which is at the heart of the area and the rich cultural heritage – Porty has been famous for glassworks, pottery and is widely used for recreation. We’re delighted with the finished mural, which is a bright, modern, cartoon-style and has may layers of meaning hidden within the depths. We think it makes a great addition to the Prom and hopefully will attract even more people to visit this end of the walking and cycle path on the prom and discover the amazing coastal views from this point, learn some more about the cultural and natural heritage of the area and get some exercise at the same time!

2019-03-02 13:24:32

Japanese rose removal at Cramond

We recently joined forces with the City of Edinburgh Council to do some removal of an Invasive Non-Native Species plant at Cramond sand dunes. Japanese rose, rosa rugosa, was introduced to Britain in the 18th century as a plant for formal gardens. It has since spread and can often be found in coastal areas. It sends out long underground rhizomes to spread, which form a dense network which destabilises the sand dune and is hard to remove. It out-competes other native species. As such, the City of Edinburgh Council runs a programme of removal, and we joined them to help with removal at Cramond. Many thanks to all the volunteers who came along for our two-day session in the (mainly) sunshine. Passers-by might have noticed 3 exclusion zones fenced off on the Cramond sand dunes. These areas have had the natural grasses and plants worn away as people have walked across them. We are jointly working on an experiment to see how well these species could return – we are leaving one fenced-off area natural to see how quickly the grass comes back, one area has been seeded with a coastal species native wildflower seed mix, and another has been planted with wildflower plug plants grown at a wildflower nursery in Granton. Species include hardy coastal flowers such as thrift, sea campion and kidney vetch.

2019-03-02 23:28:35

Edinburgh shoreline memories

Over the last 6 months filmmaker Sitar Rose has been travelling along our shoreline collecting memories of times gone-by. She has interviewed local residents about their memories of growing up in the area – on life, work and recreation on the coast. We’re delighted to be able to share these films with you. Just follow the links to hear each of the stories on our YouTube channel: Ella – Living in Newhaven and Granton George – Childhood in Newhaven Janis – Portobello memories John D – Living and working in Granton Jim – Changing Leith John H – Newhaven stories Tom – On the lifeboats

2019-04-01 05:49:46

Edinburgh Shoreline project has reached Glasgow!

A few weeks ago Dr Larissa Naylor from the University of Glasgow joined us for our 1st anniversary celebration, taking part in our discussion panel. As a token of our appreciation we gifted Larissa a packet of wildflower seeds – thrift, to be exact. Thrift, or armeria maritima, with its beautiful pink flowers loves to grow by the sea; sea cliffs, saltmarshes and dunes are some of it’s favourite places. We were delighted to receive an email a week later to say that Larissa’s two young children wanted to grow the thrift with their nursery classes. Cue some excellent photos of wee ones getting stuck in to some seed sowing! They’ll now be tending them with care and consideration for the coming few weeks. Once the seeds have germinated and grown into substantial seedlings they’ll be sending them back to us so that we can use them with community groups who want to spruce up their shoreline, bringing it full circle back to Edinburgh.

2019-04-14 05:49:46

Edinburgh Shoreline documentary - short version

We’ve had fantastic feedback about our project documentary, which charts what we’ve been getting up to in our first year and people’s thoughts on our coastline. Some folk have asked if there is a shorter version that they can show to their community group, friends or neighbours and we’re pleased to be able to share this shorter version with you!

2019-04-20 16:58:16

Shoreline Activity Pack is available

We’re delighted to be able to offer schools, families and community groups a free shoreline activity pack. It’s bursting with ideas on events and projects that you can undertake in your local area to celebrate and preserve the history and wildlife that is so important to the Edinburgh shoreline! Find ideas on activities like conducting your own beach clean or creating a wildlife garden, and many more. This resource is suitable for groups of all ages. You can download a digital copy by clicking here: Shoreline community ideas pack We also have paper copies of the pack in a ring binder for your group to use. Please contact the Edinburgh Shoreline Project Manager Charlotte Johnson on cjohnson@rbge.org.uk to request a copy. We’d love to know how you get on using the pack and to see photos of your endeavours. Please send them to Charlotte using the contact details above. Once again, We’d like to thank the super-talented Port Creative for designing this resource for us.

2019-05-18 16:58:16

Rewilding Newhaven Shoreline

We were delighted to partner with Heart of Newhaven yesterday to do some work to a greenspace outside the David Lloyd Centre, Newhaven. The area is a bit of mown grass that you might have easily ignored in the past, though it showed some signs of life with daisy, dandelion, cat’s ear and trefoil growing if left to it’s own devices. Yesterday a group of local residents and David Lloyd staff helped us to plant more than 50 trees on the site including holly, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and goat willow. We also planted some plants that will grow well in the exposed area such as mullein and sea campion. We plan to collaborate again in September time to plant out some more coastal wildflower species which will help brighten up the area further. We are looking forward to seeing the trees mature; in years to come this will be a great space to walk and to sit and take in the views, with shade from young trees and an array of colourful plants. Many thanks to Heart of Newhaven and the David LLoyd Centre for their enthusiasm and help.

2019-05-18 16:58:16

New Shoreline signs

We’re delighted to unveil 6 new signs along the Edinburgh coast which will tell passers-by how important the history, habitats and wildlife connected with the area are. We’ve worked in collaboration the Forth Estuary Forum and the super talented Studioarc to replace some old, worn and vandalised signs which we originally installed in 2011 with some bright, shiny new signs! We’ve also had the opportunity to update some of the information on the boards to really get across the message of how special our coastline is. As you can see, the improvement is vast! Look out for the signs at: Port Edgar Marina Newhalls Road, South Queensferry Silverknowes Promenade Granton Beach, just off West Shore Road Newhaven Harbour The Shore, Leith We hope that locals and visitors alike will enjoy reading the signs and finding out more about the area, the significance of the history of our coast and the importance of maintaining the precious habitats found there.

2019-06-10 16:58:16

Edinburgh Shoreline GIS map

The Central Scotland Green Network Trust have very kindly been working away over the last few weeks to create a new interactive map for the Edinburgh Shoreline. CSGNT have generously translated a wide range of data for us from the most up-to-date sources, and incorporated it into one easy-to-use application known as GIS ‘Geographic Information System’. It allows the user to view and combine different data sources or “layers” from the Edinburgh shoreline such as the location of small pockets of existing vacant land, the kind of habitats that exist, access routes, predictions of coastal erosion, the locations of historic monuments and more. We hope that it will give a better understanding of what data we have and enable individuals or local groups to think more constructively about opportunities – such as connecting fragmentary habitats, improving access and encouraging sustainable development. To view the map please visit www.edinburghshoreline.org.uk/map and click on the link under the heading ‘GIS data’ (please note this is not the map at the top of the page, but is found further down the page under GIS data heading).

2019-07-01 16:58:16

Creating flower-rich grassland

Our fantastic Urban Biodiversity Officer, Leonie Alexander, has written this blog post for Edinburgh Living Landscape on the work the Edinburgh Shoreline Project is undertaking with local volunteers to create flower-rich grassland along the coast. Click the link here to read:

2019-07-13 16:58:16

Wildflowers at Wardie

We had a wonderful evening with residents of Wardie Bay on Monday evening, looking at the diverse plants that can be found on and around the beach . It was a warm and sunny night and the beach was full of Edinburgh folk – swimming, fishing for mackerel and enjoying al fresco dinners. A group of us walked around the beach to see what plant species we could find, and the list was long. Very encouraging! Many were colourful, smelled wonderful and provide an important function for the pollinators in the ecosystem. Here’s what we found: Coastal specific: Sea milkwort Sea rocket Sea lyme grass Common orache Sea mayweed Others: Lesser trefoil Curled dock Ribwort plantain Yarrow Creeping thistle Mugwort Common knapweed Spear thistle Field scabious Rosebay willowherb Cocksfoot grass We will record the species on iRecord so that the data feeds into the NBN Atlas. We also chatted about our plans to introduce some new wildflower plants at the entrance to the beach. We have been growing some wildflower seeds with children at Wardie Bay Primary School, such as thirft and birds foot trefoil. We will plant these close to the main beach entrance, and those plants that need little substrate will also be planted in the crevices of the wall. We’re looking forward to working with the children to undertake this planting in September, and by next year you should see a wonderful splash of colour in the area, which will provide an important food source for bees and other pollinators.

2019-07-26 10:56:13

Coastal meadow scoping

On Friday 26th July the Edinburgh Shoreline Project accompanied academics from the University of Edinburgh for their first meadow scoping exercise. As part of Edinburgh Shoreline: The Wild Line the University of Edinburgh and City of Edinburgh Council will be planting 8 new perennial coastal wildflower meadows to connect up existing flower-rich areas from Cramond to Granton. This will create a ‘pollinator corridor’ in the north of the city. For our first outing, we visited the 8 proposed sites to check current species diversity and sense check the locations. We would not wish to disturb any important or rare plant species when sowing our meadows! We are pleased to report that none were found – just the regulars, mainly grasses, with flowers like clover and yarrow in small quantities.

2019-09-01 10:56:13

A new coastal wildflower meadow for Cramond

On Sunday 1st September, the Edinburgh Shoreline Project and Lothian Conservation Volunteers planted a new wildflower meadow (measuring 11m x 16m) at Cramond. The well-known ’roundel’ in the middle of the promenade at the entrance to the beach and causeway to Cramond Island, is certainly looking very different this week, and will look even more different in 6-9 months time – blooming with coastal wildflowers such as Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lady’s Bedstraw, Sea Mayweed, Kidney Vetch and Clovers! First off, the Lothian Conservation Volunteers removed the turf and top soil from the site. This reduces the fertility of the area, and means that plants such as dock do not take over the site and out-compete the wildflowers. The ground was then raked to prepare a seedbed, seed mixed with sand was scattered on the area and thoroughly trampled in to ensure they were bedded in and would not be blown away. Many thanks to the Lothian Conservation Volunteers for their hard work preparing and sowing the meadow, and to the Community Payback Scheme for transporting the removed turf to the Social Bite Village! We hope residents at the Social Bite Village will enjoy their new turfed seating area, and that the new meadow, which will be in flower from next Spring, will bring much pleasure to those who use the promenade, and much needed food for our pollinators.

2019-09-01 10:56:13

Local artist Morag Edward showing shoreline artwork

Local resident Morag Edward is displaying a series of her artworks as part this years’ Porty Art Walk. Morag takes inspiration from the Edinburgh coast (as well us other coastlines around Scotland) and paints seascapes often with boats, birds, wildlife and swimmers in these scenes. Morag’s work will be displayed at Miro’s cafe, 25 Promenade, Portobello, from 7th-14th September.

2019-09-08 10:56:13

Old Portobello photographs on display

A rare collection of colour photographs of Portobello during the 1950s and 60s have gone on display at Portobello library, Rosefield Avenue. They show the sunny side of life in Edinburgh’s seaside, with images of families playing on the beach, a pony and trap offering rides and local landmarks such as the former power station. The will be on display until 11th October 2019.You can find more detail here.

2019-09-12 10:56:13

A visit to the RBGE Nursery

Many thanks to our super colleague Martine Borge, the Scottish Native Plant Horticulturist here at the Botanics, for hosting a group of residents from Wardie Bay Resident Association today. We had a really interesting visit to the Nursery and learned about collecting and growing Scottish Native wildflowers from seed. First off, we had a special behind-the-scenes tour of the polytunnels at the nursery, and heard about Martine’s work to protect and conserve rare Scottish plants. We particularly enjoyed hearing about RBGEs work growing and researching alpine blue sow thistle, cicerbita aplina. You can read more here. The group were also interested to see some Arran whitebeams, sorbus arranensis, grown at RBGE which are soon to be planted at Wardie Bay along the new cycle path installed by the City of Edinburgh Council. Then, we had a lesson in growing native plants from seed. Martine had collected some plants which had gone to seed such as Scots lovage, black knapweed, water avens and meadow cranesbill. We learned how best to collect the seed from the plant (and also wasted lots of time having a look at how intricate the seeds are under a hand lens!), the rules for collecting responsibly, how to make our own paper envelopes for storing seed (as this is better for the seed than using plastic), how to prepare compost, fill up seed trays, sow our seeds, top with grit to protect from frost and even how best to water our seeds once sown – who knew we’d been using watering cans wrong all these years?!

2019-09-15 13:07:43

Knee deep in the Brunstane Burn

Edinburgh Shoreline staff and volunteers spent a very pleasant Saturday in the Brunstane Burn with the Forth Rivers Trust, learning to survey invertebrates. Many thanks to Amy and Jonathan for spending a Saturday with us. The Trust gave us an insight into some of the work that they do on the Almond and the Avon monitoring invertebrates (see here to find out more about their work). RiverFly monitoring involves monitoring the levels of 8 particular species of cased caddisfly larvae, caseless caddisfly larvae, mayfly larvae, stonefly larvae and freshwater shrimp. No Killer Shrimp, please! These are all key indicator species of water quality, and by monitoring the numbers found in a particular river you can get an idea of the health of the water. You can find out more about the project here. After learning about the project and studying invertebrate ID guides, it was time to get in the water! We used our standard issue RiverFly nets, gently disturbed the river bed to encourage the larvae into our nets, and brought our catch out onto land to see what we’d caught. We used spoons to scoop up the individual invertebrates, separated them into dishes, observed through magnifying glasses and got to grips with ID. Some of these are just a few millimetres across! As well as the invertebrates we were looking to record we also found leeches, water fleas, minuscule molluscs, a Bullhead fish and even an eel – a highlight of the day for some!

2019-09-23 13:07:43

Community map on display at the City Chambers

For anyone that has recently visited the City Chambers, you might have spied the community map we made earlier this year on display in the main foyer. Director of Place for the City of Edinburgh Council, Paul Lawrence, was kind enough to offer to have the map on display having seen it at our celebration event in March. Displaying the map in the City Chambers over the month of September has been a great way to engage more people with the project, and also get it noticed by more councillors and council staff. Over late 2018/early 2019 we met with community groups and local residents and asked them to consider what they cherish about living in a capital city with a coast, as well as sharing aspirations for the future. The message was clear: our coastline is a wonderful asset. It allows people to connect with nature and has benefits for health and well-being; but it is also under-utilised and in need of protection. If you’d like to see the map for yourself, you can download it here: Edinburgh Shoreline Community Map. We’d also love to hear if you have any further thoughts; just drop us a line on edinburghshoreline@gmail.com.

2019-10-10 04:37:55

A muddy, marvelous visit to RSPB Skinflats reserve

On Thursday 10th October we visited the RSPB Skinflats reserve near Falkirk with 36 P7 pupils from Craigentinny Primary School. Reserve Warden Allison and volunteers Grant and Nicola hosted us for a great session exploring the different habitats found on the site and the birds and animals that call it home. First off, we looked at globes and maps to find out where Skinflats is on the Forth in relation to Edinburgh and Stirling. It’s a perfect place for birds with extensive mudflats, which are recently improved thanks to managed realignment on the site (see here for more detail). We then split into groups to do some fun activities: bug hunting with colourful nets, nature detectives exploring for signs of animals such as shelters and dens, nibbled nuts and conkers and tracks and prints (some say of dinosaurs, but I’m not sure!) and finally bird watching.Bird watching was very popular with the students and we were very impressed to see some students had brought along binoculars with them. We watched different types of gulls, a heron and other small wading birds like Oystercatcher, Greenshank and Redshank. We were also lucky enough to see and hear lots of large groups of geese who are currently arriving to spend the winter with us. Geese who will overwinter with us include Canada geese, Barnacle geese and Pink-footed geese who have travelled all the way from Iceland! In the afternoon, we looked at how different types of birds co-exist on the mudflats; their beaks adapted to find and eat different prey in the mud. We had a go at using different length implements to find food in some mock mud – we now know that birds such as Curlew with their long beaks are better at finding food in deep mud, and birds with shorter beaks like Dunlin need food closer to the surface.

2019-11-03 04:37:55

Likin’ lichens

We had an excellent (if sometimes grey) morning with Dr Rebecca Yahr, Lichenologist, from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Sunday. As you’ll know, the Edinburgh Shoreline project is run by the Botanics, so we’re lucky enough to work with Becky, but Sunday was all about unleashing her on the general public, and what a day it was! Becky took us on a walk to Cramond Island to find lichens. As the island is in the middle of the Forth, at a distance from the pollution of the city, lots of lichens can be found there. We had a great time searching for the different types of lichen (crusty, leafy and bushy) and looking closely at them under our hand lenses. Like fungi, lichens reproduce by releasing spores and therefore many lichens have produced little cups in which the spores are made, or produced ‘peg’-like growths which break off to form new lichens. Looking at these features under the hand lens was like looking at an miniature alien world. Cool! We’d like to thank everyone who came along to the walk, and particularly to the two young brothers who joined us. They were brilliant at spotting new types of lichen and matching them up to our illustrated lichen guides. The RBGE lichenologists of the future, we’re sure! And as with all good events, there were lichen puns all round.

2019-11-16 04:37:55

A visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre

On Sunday afternoon we went out to North Berwick for a shorebird walk hosted by the Scottish Seabird Centre. Edinburgh residents got an opportunity to learn more about the shorebirds who call the Firth of Forth home. East Lothian still has lots of areas of rocky shore and mudflat in tact (far more than within the City of Edinburgh coastal area) which makes it a great home for our wintering wading birds, as well as sea ducks. As the Firth of Forth is a Special Protected Area for the huge numbers of overwintering birds it supports this is a very special time of year to head out with your binoculars. It was a beautiful, sunny, crisp afternoon and we managed to see Greater Black-backed Gull, Shag (or Cormorant – they were a bit too far away to ID!), a Heron, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, male and female Eider ducks and some smaller birds on the beach such as pied wagtail. Some of the eagle-eyed in John’s group also managed to spot there were grey seals and pups on Craigleith Island!

2020-07-22 22:14:35

Rocky shore eco-tiles

Natural rocky shores include pools, crevices, grooves and holes that provide habitat for a wide range of sea creatures. In contrast, Edinburgh’s shoreline is largely protected by concrete sea defences, structures that are typically smooth and provide few habitats for wildlife. As sea levels rise due to climate change, there will be an even greater need for these sea defenses and over time the space for wildlife living at the waters edge will be gradually lost. For wildlife to thrive on our shoreline we need to provide them with a more complex, textured habitat. Building on evidence from our previous Greening the Grey project, academics at the University of Glasgow working with designers and manufacturers, have developed a textured concrete eco-tile that bolts onto smooth grey sea defences to create habitat for rocky shore invertebrates. We have installed ninety of these eco-tiles on the seaward side of the sea defences at Gypsy Brae to create vital habitat for species such as barnacles and periwinkles, much like our initial experimental tiles that you may have seen in Cramond, but on a larger scale. You can find more information about the textured tiles and rocky shore habitat on two types of signage, small signs fixed to rocks on the shore and a larger Greening the Grey interpretation panel on the promenade which helps place these eco-tile installations in the context of climate change and its risk to creatures living on our rocky shores.

2021-03-01 04:37:55

The Forthline Craft Project begins

Artists and people with a great mix of craft skills have started working together to produce a major illustrated “story” of the coast around the Firth of Forth. We are inviting like-minded locals and friends of the Forth shoreline, like you, to join the project. Find out more and get involved!

2021-04-24 10:07:05

New Coastal Wildflower Meadows

We have created eight large wildflower meadows on grassland next to the promenade between Crammond and Gypsy Brae. When they become established, they will form a ‘corridor’ of flower-rich habitats that will provide an important food source for pollinating insects and, in turn, support a wide range of local wildlife. They will enhance the landscape, adding bright and changing colours through the seasons, and creating a sense of a wild space in our city, a place for people to enjoy. The wildflower meadows were sown in April 2021 with a diversity of species that were carefully selected to benefit insect pollinators. We used a specially developed Edinburgh Shoreline Mix that was produced in collaboration with Scotia Seeds, a company who specialise in the development of native wild flower seed. The seed mix is designed to grow on the unimproved grassland of our urban coastline. It is made up mainly of perennial plant species, particularly species that are high yielding in nectar and/or pollen. The new wildflower meadows will also provide seeds through autumn and winter for birds such as goldfinches, and overwintering and hibernation sites for small creatures. Look out for our Wild about Flowers sign on the coastal path at Gypsy Brae that shows the location of all eight wildflower meadows and provides more information about the plant species in the seed mix.

Edinburgh Shoreline Project

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