The last five years have seen a buzz of activity in the Ken/Dee Valley in Dumfries & Galloway. Since 2018, the Galloway Glens Scheme – an initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team – has been working with a wide range of partners to ‘connect people to their heritage’, boost the local economy and support sustainable communities.
The Scheme has overseen more than £6million in activity, supporting projects varying from training & education programmes, visitor facilities, outdoor access improvements, activities & events and community development initiatives. Over 75% of expenditure has stayed in the region, being spent with more than 190 Dumfries & Galloway Businesses.
The main funder of the Galloway Glens Scheme is The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the project has aimed to harness the amazing cultural heritage of the valley to tackle today’s problems – from the departure of young people from the region, through to responding to the climate & biodiversity crises. More than 40 headline projects were supported up and down the Ken/Dee valley. These projects often include multiple strands of activity and work, all combining to deliver a landscape scale approach to delivery.
Project highlights include:
- 10 new or refurbished community buildings
- 15 Intern positions supported
- 206 hectares of land brought into conservation management.
- Assisting sustainability of local partners, such as Loch Ken Trust
- 23 miles of footpath installed or improved – including 4 bridges
- ‘Nature Positive’ projects supported that actually add to the ecosystem and biodiversity value of the area
- 120 attendees on the ‘Go Wild’ outdoor camps
- Support to a wide range of existing and new community events & activities
- Place Names, Oral History & Historic Mapping endeavours
- Educational assets, including learning materials, and creative projects that deliver health & wellbeing benefits, as well as community confidence and connection
- 4 years of the national-acclaimed ‘Can You Dig It’ Community Archaeology project
An overview document of five years of work by the Scheme is available here: https://gallowayglens.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Galloway-Glens-An-Overview.pdf.
The Scheme is an initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team. Funding was primarily secured through a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from a range of other partners including Drax, the Owners of the Galloway Hydro Scheme. The Galloway Glens Scheme is supported by the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, and has established itself as an example of the ‘Biosphere In Action’.
As the scheme reached the end of its five-year delivery phase, Ted Leeming, Chair of the Galloway Glens Partnership board, said:
“From small acorns, mighty oaks grow… To see the Galloway Glens Scheme develop and grow in size and ambition over the last five years has been incredibly rewarding. Based around an approach of trust, empowerment and a ‘can-do’ energy, the team has sought to tackle some of the largest challenges we face, delivering tangible and measurable progress.
All of us on the Partnership Board are grateful to everyone involved – from funders through to the delivery team, all project partners and especially to all the Community interest groups of all ages who engaged so passionately to deliver the projects. The legacy of the Galloway Glens Scheme lives on not only in the projects supported and activities undertaken, but also in the increased sense of connection and appreciation for Galloway’s amazing natural & cultural heritage and confidence in our unique identity.”
Councillor David Inglis, Vice Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Economy & Resources Committee added:
“The Council might have facilitated the Galloway Glens project, but the novel approach to oversight and community engagement means it has brought together partners from across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
The main benefit from the Galloway Glens Scheme will be seen in the projects supported, but it is great to note the actual delivery of the scheme itself saw more than 75% of £6million in funding being spent with the businesses in the region.”
The main funder of the Galloway Glens Scheme is The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Caroline Clark, the Heritage Fund’s Director for Scotland, said:
“The Galloway Glens project team can be very proud of what has been achieved in partnership with local people and local businesses over the last five years. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players they have delivered new opportunities to learn and work, supported environmental recovery, improved access to nature and outdoor activity for all, and supported a huge variety of community activity and initiatives.
The Galloway Glens project may be coming to an end but it leaves a legacy that will continue to have a significant and positive impact for many years to come.”
Drax, the owners of the Galloway Hydro Scheme, supported a number of projects and the Galloway Glens Scheme overall with a contribution of £100,000. Martin McGhie, Drax’s Maintenance Manager at the Galloway Hydro Scheme, said:
“Our partnership with the Galloway Glens initiative is rooted in our commitment to be a responsible custodian of the region’s stunning natural landscape and environment. We’re very proud to have partnered with the Galloway Glens Scheme these past five years and it’s wonderful to see the positive impact of the many projects undertaken across the Ken/Dee valley.
A particular highlight has been the Blackwater of Dee Restoration project, which involved the relocation of natural sediment and gravel gathered from elsewhere in the catchment to the Black Water of Dee – the first time in Scotland that targeted support has been provided to recreate the natural movement of aggregate along the length of the river.
Drax is committed to supporting the local communities where we operate around the world, and we hope our partnership with Galloway Glens will leave a positive legacy in the region for many years to come.”