Coastal communities offer to get fit while helping the environment

Wild things! volunteers removing invasive non-native plant species.

An environmental charity is aiming to help improve the health and wellbeing of local people living in Moray’s coastal communities.

Wild Things! has launched an innovative ‘Blue Gym’ programme that will see the removal of invasive plants in Moray’s coastal habitats – and will help boost local tourism by opening up once-loved coastal pathways.

With support from the Coastal Communities Fund, the programme is designed to combine outdoor exercise with practical conservation activities. Local volunteers will benefit from a lasting legacy of increased employability by gaining naturalist, conservation and leadership skills.

The charity will continue to work closely with local organisations, such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation and the Rivers and Fisheries Trust, throughout the project.

As part of the funding, Wild things! has developed two main programmes – the new Blue Gym and the removal of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS). The Blue Gym project will be available to individuals of all ages seeking to combine healthy outdoor exercise and learning about local coastal environments, with rewarding conservation tasks to restore habitats along the coastal path networks.

The INNS project will concentrate on the removal of Invasive Non-Native Species, such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Hogweed. Volunteers who take part in this project will embark on a new skills and qualification programme to prepare them for the removal process.

The removal of INNS will open up and improve the path and cycle links to the coast; a benefit for visitors and locals alike. Fragile habitats will improve, facilitating the natural regeneration of the rare flora and fauna that attracts visitors to Moray.

Jennie Martin, Founder and Executive Director of the charity said: “We are just delighted to be able to start work on this much needed project and are very grateful for the Coastal Communities Fund for supporting it.

“Moray has such fantastic native flora that supports a wealth of wildlife, however, these invasive plants are a great threat to our native plant communities as well as all the associated fauna that they support.

“I’m excited to see how our Blue Gym, which supports the health and wellbeing of local people in Moray, can also support the health and wellbeing of our local areas of outstanding and magnificent beauty.”

The programmes will be discussed in-depth at a Wild things! Open Day on Monday, February 16 from 2pm until 4pm at Brodie Castle.

Full information can be found on the wild things! website

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