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Circular Tayside: New Partnership Launches Initiative to Mobilise Natural & Cultural Heritage for Climate Action

The Bronze Age Stone Circle known as Diarmuid's Tomb, Glenshee, photo Clare Cooper

A new partnership between Alyth Development Trust (ADT) and the Cateran Ecomuseum has secured major funding for a project to inspire the local communities of eastern Perthshire and western Angus to act quickly on climate change. 

The partnership plans to use the natural and cultural heritage of the area to help communities switch to more regenerative ways of living. 

The Gannochy Trust this week confirmed a grant of £30,000 to ADT, adding to £82,640 of investment secured by the Ecomuseum just before Christmas.  The funds will enable the two bodies to launch a world-leading three-year programme involving local people and visitors. 

In its first year, coinciding with Scotland’s hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the ‘Museum of Rapid Transition’ initiative will stage a series of events and activities under the programme banner ‘From Deep Time to Our Time’.

Reekie Linn Waterfall on the Highland Boundary Fault near Alyth, Photo George Logan 

This will show how epochal changes in geology and climate have shaped the landscape, determined the flora and fauna, and influenced human settlement, land-use, and social and political organisation. 

The aim is to demonstrate how past actions have degraded the landscape and how, by reconnecting to and innovating with indigenous and past knowledge, communities can regenerate the land and innovate their relationship with it. 

Other programme activities and events will include new walking and cycling itineraries, which will grow the number of Regenerative Tourism [1] experiences offered by the Cateran Ecomuseum and kickstart a campaign to position it as one of Scotland’s premier car-free holiday destinations. 

Both partners believe that engaging people with their natural and cultural heritage to drive climate action has huge, currently underutilised potential.

[1] Regenerative Tourism encourages people to rethink how they travel for leisure and how they enjoy the places they choose to travel to in ways that ‘leave things better’ and ensure those places are available for future generations to enjoy.

Young Birch leaves harvested for flavouring, Photo Clare Cooper 

Russell Willis Taylor, a director of the Alyth Development Trust, said: “The extraordinary natural and cultural heritage in this part of the world is a resource for expanding our imaginations to build a better future for all of us. The Museum will help all of us understand our natural environment and how we can help it endure and will be a place of convening and invention.”

Clare Cooper, co-founder and co-director of the Cateran Ecomuseum, said: “In the short period of time since the creation of the first phase of the Ecomuseum and its launch in late 2019, the climate crisis has continued to escalate. There is now worldwide recognition that widespread behaviour change to regenerative lifestyles is necessary to live within planetary ecological boundaries and limit global heating. Given this crisis, the Ecomuseum’s Directors have agreed that their priority is to focus plans for our second phase on helping local communities and their visitors find ways to speed up their climate action and find new ways of mitigating and adapting to the changing climate. In a nutshell the Ecomuseum will show how the story of our past can help guide the story of our future. Partnering with a key local community anchor organisation like Alyth Development Trust will be key to achieving the potential of our ‘Museum of Rapid Transition' idea.” 

The project will also carry out a new palaeoecological and geological study of the River Ericht, collecting data from local archives and ‘citizen science’ to create new learning and educational resources.  These will highlight how human behaviours have degraded the river’s biodiversity and how its history can be re-used to conserve, restore, and manage it in the light of climate change.

The River Ericht, Blairgowrie, Photo Clare Cooper 

New written, visual, and oral material and stories on the past cultural, environmental and economic importance of woodlands and forests will create new content for activities and events including one new temporary art installation which encourages involvement in landscape regeneration at all levels. 

‘Micromastery’ [2] opportunities in heritage and indigenous skills that work with the land and its flora and fauna will be offered that can be used in people’s everyday lives now to help them take climate action. 

John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland said: “Scotland has declared a climate emergency and our historic environment has unique potential to inspire climate action. In this year of COP26, when Scotland will play such an important role in uniting the world to tackle climate change, I’m proud that communities in my constituency are showing how Scotland is leading the world in tackling the climate crisis.” 

Joanna McCreadie, CEO of The Gannochy Trust aid “The partnership between Alyth Development Trust and the Cateran Ecomuseum will play a major role in facilitating local involvement and interest in protecting and enhancing our environment. We are delighted to support a three-year programme that will capture the public imagination and inform local communities about how we can mitigate the ongoing threat of climate change.” 

Andrew Simms, Co-ordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance said: ” ”A few years ago I fantasised about a Museum of Rapid Transition and it is amazing to see one becoming reality in Scotland in the very year that the country hosts critical climate talks at COP26. Museums are physical manifestations of civilisations’ collective memories, inventories of the traces left in us by the past. They are also vital stories of change: in our behaviour, culture, economy and technology. And, by showing us how much we have changed before, museums remind us of our ability to change now and help us learn the lessons of the past to illuminate the paths ahead. They are more important now than ever as we face a challenge unprecedented in scale and speed to prevent the loss of the climate and biosphere which give civilisation a home.” 

More information about Alyth Development Trust can be found at

https://lovealyth.org.uk

More information about the Cateran Ecomuseum can be found at cateranecomuseum.co.uk.

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