SSE team helps Scottish Natural Heritage clear wetland habitats

Two dedicated teams from SSE braved the elements to lend a hand at one of Scotland’s most valuable wetland habitats.

Staff from the Home Services department swapped the office for the great outdoors, helping Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) clear overgrown willow trees from its National Nature Reserve (NNR) at Loch Leven.

The two-day trip was organised by Carol Lumsden and Craig Dearing through SSE’s Be the Difference scheme, who were joined by 14 colleagues.

First designated an NNR in 1964, Loch Leven is the most important loch in Scotland for wintering wildfowl, attracting up to 35,000 visiting birds throughout the autumn and winter.

It is the job of SNH to manage and improve the wetlands, and overgrown willow trees were becoming an issue on important grazing areas.

Craig said: “This is where we stepped in to help. Jeremy from Scottish Natural Heritage explained the canopy from the trees prevented sufficient light reaching the ground and they hope by clearing the willow they will create a greater diversity of flowering plants, which in the future will be managed by reintroducing sheep.

“Both days were a fantastic success with SNH sending a big thank you for our help and support.”

Emma Delorey , who was part of the SSE team, added: “Before our Be the Difference Day the whole team was a bit apprehensive as the weather forecast was wet and windy.

“However, once we arrived on site we were kitted up and set off to our location and everyone’s mood was lifted. Our guide Neil, from Scottish Natural Heritage, took us through the basic procedures which we were to carry out, everyone paired up and started our day’s work.

“As we progressed the team worked really well together and by the end of the day we felt as if we had achieved a lot. It was a lot of hard work cutting trees and then setting a bonfire to dispose of them, however, our work will benefit the local wildlife.

“This was a really good team building exercise which brought different people within Home Services business area together.”

Neil Mitchell, Scottish Natural Heritage reserve manager at Loch Leven, said: “I’d like to thank the SSE staff who came out and cleared the willow scrub encroaching on an area of wet grassland.

“It is hard work clearing scrub, but their efforts will help the rich flora of the wetland to thrive by allowing more light in. In particular, the work will benefit a nationally scarce grass called Holy Grass; it has a sweet fragrance and was once strewn at the entrance to churches, hence its name.”

 

 

Pictured: 

Aileen Sinclair, Colin Hannigan, Carol Lumsden, Emma Delorey, Craig Szparman, Laura Fillingham, Joanna Lobban and John Toet