Edinburgh College lecturer sets up charity to maintain protected meadow

An Edinburgh College lecturer has started a new charity to help bring a protected meadow near his home in Addiewell back to life after years of neglect.  

After moving house and whilst out exploring the surrounding area with his dog, Engineering lecturer Ian Records stumbled upon the Skolie Burn Meadow describing it as ‘a wasteland that was overgrown with rubbish everywhere’.

Ian got speaking to an officer from Scottish Natural Heritage who informed him that the meadow was actually a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is in part due to the meadow supporting regionally uncommon plants such as the greater butterfly orchid Platanthera Chlorantha.

With the knowledge that the meadow was a protected area, Ian decided that he wanted to do something that would transform the site back to its former glory as a wildlife haven, making it more accessible in the process. Alongside some local neighbours, Ian created the Skolie Burn Community Meadow and Woodland charity.

The charity members started restoration of the site and have plans in place to build new perimeter fencing and to install a footpath from one side of the meadow through to the other.

Ian has also started to get some of the College’s students involved in the project, taking a group of Access to Physical Science students to the site so that they could get practical experience conducting field surveys. There are also plans for a group of Access and Continuing Education (ACE) students to carry out volunteer work on the site.

Ian said: “The project has been fantastic so far – I have no background in ecology, botany or wildlife, but I do have a keen interest in butterflies and insects. The meadow was in such a bad state that most of the wild flowers had died off, but now with the creation of the charity there is hope, and I would like to thank my fellow trustees, the students at the College, Scottish Natural Heritage and the West Lothian Ranger Service for all their advice and support.”

Access to Physical Science student Marika Calzavara said: “I loved having the opportunity to escape the city and work with Ian on this incredible project. We started by cutting down the bracken so that wild flowers like the foxglove, St John’s Wort and the Common Butterfly Orchid would have the chance to bloom. We soon realised that hidden by the bracken was an enormous amount of rubbish, which had to be disposed of. It’s so disappointing to see what mankind is doing to this world so even just helping to restore this small area could make the difference and it can hopefully encourage other people to do the same.”

Skolie Burn Community Meadow and Woodland is a registered Scottish charity. If you would like to find out more about the charity, you can visit their Facebook page.