Ideas for projects for Garnock Connections have come from a variety of sources. Along with the various project concepts submitted by local organisations and community groups, project ideas have also arisen from site-specific development studies, the Landscape and Heritage Study, and community engagement activities.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to include all of the project ideas we received in the Garnock Connections programme. The Garnock Connections Steering Group reviewed all of the submitted project concepts. For inclusion in the final Garnock Connections programme, they selected those projects which will contribute most to achieving our four core objectives, and which will best complement each other, working together at the landscape level.
The Garnock Connections programme is divided into four themes each of which broadly contributes to achieving one of the four objectives.
The Community Network Theme will primarily contribute to achieving the Objective – People will develop strong connections with their heritage. The projects in the Community Network are
- Heritage Volunteers – This project will improve the scale and effectiveness of heritage volunteering, bringing lasting benefits to the heritage, people and communities of the Garnock Connections area.
- Building Communities by Building Boats – A project to encourage inter-generational, social, educational, and employability skills change through building two St Ayles Skiffs. Touring the boats during construction will allow each community to leave their distinct mark on them.
- Growing for Garnock – This project will help conserve wild plants by training and educating participants in plant identification, seed/cuttings collection, propagation and planting.
- Community Habitat Restoration – Community groups within the Garnock Connections area have proposed a number of local, small-scale habitat improvements. This project will work alongside the Heritage Volunteers project to deliver these improvements
The Knowledge Network Theme will primarily contribute to achieving the Objective – Heritage will be better understood and valued. The projects in the Knowledge Network are
- Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Project (CHAP) – A suite of sub-projects that involve volunteers in learning heritage skills and engages wider audiences in celebrating the area's unique stories.
- Working Voices – A project to collect oral histories from residents and workers from Irvine, Ardeer, Saltcoats and Ardrossan, while also offering training and equipment for similar recording projects across the wider Garnock Connections area.
- Revealing Hidden Heritage – A Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) project to uncover hidden heritage, provide the community with new skills and create a lasting visual legacy.
- Green Network Training – A partnership project to deliver a training programme that will support local people to secure employment in arboriculture and green network development.
- Heritage Trainees – This project will support the progression of talented individuals into a career in the heritage sector, while supporting the delivery of pan-landscape Garnock Connections initiatives – including Oral History Recording, Wildlife Recording and Volunteer Coordination.
- Go Wild in Garnock – This project will provide inspiration, training, events and resources to increase the numbers of people engaged in wildlife recording, upskill those already involved and increase the collection, collation, verification and sharing of biological data across the Garnock Connections area.
The Access Network Theme will primarily contribute to achieving the Objective – People and places within the landscape will be better connected. The projects in the Access Network are
- Walking in the Garnock Valley – This project will recruit and train a network of walk leaders to facilitate walking groups of various abilities and interests across the Garnock Connections area.
- All Ability Access – The procurement of wheeler push vehicles allowing wheelchair users/mobility-impaired access to beaches and park areas previously inaccessible using normal wheelchairs.
- Path Stewardship – The creation of a network of supported volunteers across the Garnock Connections area who will “adopt” and take responsibility for a section of the path network. Volunteers will be provided with the tools, training, and support required to survey paths, capture key locations digitally, and undertake small-scale improvements.
- Interpretation – To ensure a unified and coordinated approach all interpretation across the Garnock Connections Landscape Partnership scheme will take place under a single interpretation project. This project will include all signage, digital outputs, leaflets, events, etc.
- Watching from the Wheelhouse – MV Garnock, the historic ICI Irvine Harbour Tug, will be converted into a floating viewing platform.
- Revealing Peel Tower – This project will consolidate and interpret the remains of the 16th century Peel Tower on Castle Semple Loch.
The Habitat Network Theme will primarily contribute to achieving the Objective – Habitats and species networks will be enhanced. The projects in the Habitat Network are
- Garnock’s Buzzing – This project will create wildflower meadows and bee-banks, plant nectar-rich trees and control scrub to enhance and reconnect wildflower and bare-earth habitats, ensuring long-term survival of pollinating insects including Northern Colletes Mining Bee and Small Blue Butterfly.
- Raising the Bogs – This project will work with landowners to implement detailed restoration plans for up to seven raised bogs sites in the Garnock Valley.
- Meandering the Dundonald Burn – This project will create gentle meanders in the currently straight channel of the Dundonald Burn and plant it with suitable aquatic plants, including some native trees.
- Living on the Banks of the Garnock – This project will deliver practical methods to address diffuse pollution and invasive species on farmland within the Garnock catchment, which will benefit from green engineering techniques providing multiple benefits to the landowner, watercourse and local biodiversity.
- Brilliant Bogside – RSPB Scotland’s Bogside reserve forms part of Bogside Flats SSSI. This project aims to create additional wetland habitat to enhance the reserve’s value for wildlife.
- Garnock Floods – Persistent floodwater at Garnock Floods Nature Reserve in autumn/winter prevents the exposure of bare mud attractive to wading birds. This project seeks to remedy this through measures such as improved water control and rush cutting.
- Saving Shewalton Sandpits – This project will enhance Shewalton Sandpits Nature Reserve through a series of interventions such as stabilising a rapidly eroding riverbank, making sand mounds for insects, removing encroaching scrub, creating a sand martin nesting bank, excavating ponds, managing woodland and controlling invasive non-native plants
- Boosting the Birds at Gailes Marsh – New habitat for birds at Gailes Marsh Nature Reserve will be created by excavating scrapes, creating brambly log piles from felled conifers and building a new sand martin bank.
- Breeding Success at RSPB Lochwinnoch – Improving the habitat available to increase the variety of breeding species at RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve. Thereby, improving the viewing spectacles available to visitors, by creating biohavens (floating nesting islands), otter holts, and a sand martin bank