- Carys Mainprize
Our Peatland Connections project officer, who has now moved onto a new role, reflects on her time with the Carbon Centre.
It’s been lovely to reflect on my time at The Crichton Carbon Centre who I met in 2014 when I moved back to the region. Throughout this time, I have worked on several projects. I've always admired the important work being undertaken by the Centre. The people CCC attracts are committed and determined to protect and enhance our natural environment and I’ve been constantly inspired by my colleagues and the board of trustees over the years.
My time at CCC started within the SPI team (Sustainable Process Improvement) delivering consultancy to businesses, helping them become resource-efficient, saving money and reducing emissions. My work on this project has become a real passion and has continued into my own personal and business life. I feel that sustainability in business is vital in the work we do across Scotland, to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. With a solid base of genuine sustainability, the business outlook is always on the bigger picture. Those businesses will search for ways to be environmentally efficient and community focused while driving forward economic growth. This remains one of my key goals for Scotland’s business community.
My next role was consultancy based, a project called Refill, an inspired initiative to reduce single-use plastics brought up from Bristol. One of our trustees saw an opportunity to bring Refill to Dumfries and Galloway and the timing was perfect.
Totally aligned with The Blue Planet, Refill flew. In a short few months over 100 businesses had signed up across the region and it was clear that our local communities were dedicated to reducing single-use plastics. This project gave me the opportunity to engage with many organisations across the region and again I was inspired by the great work being done. We signed up businesses, cafes and groups: DG Eco-warriors, Loch Arthur, Eskdalemuir Community Hub, The Buccleuch Centre in Langholm, The Stove and not forgetting our beautiful Scottish Riviera, Logan Botanic Gardens. Only CCC could mobilise a project so quickly and effectively on the ground. I made many new friends working on this project and it really was a joy to see Dumfries and Galloway lead the way to reduce single-use plastics across Scotland.
As this project ended, I moved into Peatland Action training with Dr Emily Taylor and I started really learning about peatlands and their importance. We travelled across Scotland delivering peatland restoration events in collaboration with NatureScot. I had no idea how many peatlands we have in the UK, how much carbon they contain and how truly beautiful and diverse they are. Making sure they are in good condition is essential to reducing our emissions as well as protecting these unique habitats.
Over the years Emily has trained many contractors and landowners not only to restore peatlands but also to have a practical understanding of their importance. My time at Peatland Action training was fun and varied. We met many interesting characters and made sure everywhere we went we collaborated with community organisations and local businesses to cater to our attendees.
This project naturally led me on to Peatland Connections. Connecting communities back to peatlands through the arts, culture and science. What a magical combination!
When artists and scientists work together a new viewpoint emerges. Something in-between the two that collaboration inspires. My experience on the project has seen both sides change by working together, creating a deeper understanding of science and art (Editor's note: read Jayne's blog on the symposium on this topic here).
The project allowed me to use my photography and film to engage on social media. It was fortunate as meetings and events have been a challenge during Covid.
Time spent out on the peat, with just my camera, have brought so much inspiration. In early Summer 2021, I visited Kirkconnell Flow a NatureScot nature reserve on the outskirts of Dumfries. I was amazed by the amount of bog cotton as far as the eye could see.
It was a warm morning with a very light breeze and the cotton grass swayed gently over the deep pools of water. After a couple of videos for Instagram, I settled down to watch the dragonflies dance over the top of the bog pools. Fortunately, a couple of them were willing models who sat patiently for me to take their pictures before they carried on their way. It was in those moments I was struck by the contrast of what was below the ground and what lay above. The top of the bog is ever-changing with the seasons and looks different throughout the year and the deep rich peat that lies beneath the surface holds our history perfectly preserved for thousands of years.
The deepest peat at Kirkconnell Flow is 9.3m, and wow, the stories it could tell! My imagination was running wild, and I felt a deep connection to the land, which was only a few miles from where I was born.
We have in many ways become disconnected from nature and the land over time. The last two years have seen us connect back and find our roots. Appreciating the mental and physical wellbeing nature can bring to us all at this challenging time is so important. Our voice should be heard in the discussion on land use and Peatland Connections is asking you to join in the conversation. I know the project will be a great success.
So, as I move on to my next adventure, I am grateful for everything I have experienced and learned at CCC. No matter where I am I will continue to champion our natural world.
We wish Jayne the best in her new role where we know she'll be a credit to her team.
We're recruiting for her role, which closes tomorrow (7th Jan). Find out more here.