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Newsletter 19

Climate action news from Skye and beyond
Runner bean seeds, for swapping, sowing next year or eating. See Atlas' seed stewardship project below.  
Welcome to November’s newsletter
with news and actions on the climate emergency in Skye and beyond

Skye Climate Action is a collaborative network, aiming to share information and to support and encourage all those who are taking action to reduce our carbon footprint and prepare for changes happening to our climate.

Whether you are taking a personal stand or are joining with others, whether on issues of food, transport, plastics, building, energy or anything else, do drop us an email to tell us what you are doing so we can share your story and inspire others.

If you use Facebook, please comment and post on our page, and invite new members by using the invite button. Visit our website for more news, events and information.
REMINDER: Highland Council's Climate Conference starts Monday 2nd November at 10 am.  See article below for more information.


Our next Conversation will be on Thursday 19th November at 7 pm, on the theme of "Sharing the passion for Climate Action across the area."

Trish Robertson, chair of Highland Council's Climate Change Working Group, will introduce the theme, and 
we are inviting representatives from the Small Isles, Lochcarron, Lochalsh, Planet Sutherland and Transition Black Isle. Join us to hear what is happening across our area, and meet our neighbours taking action on the Climate Emergency.  Contact us for the zoom link.

Skye Climate Action's next steering group meeting is on Tuesday 3rd November, 7 pm.  
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Atlas Art's Seed Stewardship Project 

bere barley seed heads
Bere barley may have been brought to Britain by Vikings or earlier. Selection by generations of farmers created a variety well adapted to the north of Scotland. Now it is only grown in a few locations, including in north Skye.  Photo: Sandaidh Nic a'Phi 

Atlas Arts' October Seed Stewardship Project, connecting to our Grow Skye! Dùisg an talamh! project, continues through November, with seed swaps and sharing via the Library boxes. You are invited to check out the zines in the boxes, make your own zine for ATLAS to copy and distribute, and share your thoughts on what 'wakening the land' means to you.

On 10th October 2020 artist and activist Vivien Sansour, founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, guided an online event exploring the importance of preserving an area’s seed varieties not only for food, but as a form of social and political resistance. Participants shared stories of seeds from Palestine, Skye and around the world. To listen to the audio recording, and see the quotes and the resources shared during the event, please visit the Atlas website.

This event was followed by online and in person screenings of Jumana Manna's thought-provoking film Wild Relatives, with an opportunity to talk with Jumana after the online screening. Jumana's film explores a withdrawal of seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault  – which lies deep in the earth beneath the Arctic permafrost – by an international agricultural centre affected by the Syrian revolution turned war. The film teased out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change and biodiversity.

If you have a seed story to share, get in touch and join the conversation. Get all the latest news on the programme on the ATLAS website.
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Plastics News

Plastic Free Broadford and Beyond

by Anne MacLennan

This subgroup met on 29th October and the main topic of discussion was recycling. We agree on the importance of progressing with reducing or avoiding the use of plastics where possible, especially single-use, but in the meantime we desperately need means of collecting used plastic for recycling.
It was noted that the Scottish Government is currently consulting on their plan to ban a range of single-use plastic next year, including oxo-degradable plastics. Increasing evidence suggests that “biodegradable” plastics often just degrade from macro- to microplastics and therefore still pose health and environmental problems. “Compostable” plastics may require commercial systems and won’t break down in domestic compost heaps – even hot bins. Both compostable and biodegradable plastics are unsuitable for routine plastic recycling – but it is not always easy to differentiate, so recycling is not straightforward.
Terracycle will “not operate in the Hebrides”, but we may be able to link in with a mainland collector. There are moves afoot to develop suitable composting facilities locally and possibly to organise recycling of agricultural plastics, as well as collecting other plastic waste not dealt with by the Council at present. Watch this space!

The group also hopes to develop educational resources to aid in dealing with plastic waste appropriately.
The Broadford Co-op has been accepting single-use plastic during the month of October and this is to be continued. It is returned to Manchester and is recycled to other plastic goods. Improved signage will be provided to the big red bin in the electrical / household goods section of the store. The Co-op nationally plans to roll out recycling of “scrunchable plastics” across the UK next year.
The Selkie Collective reported back on a promising start-up with their shop in Broadford (part of the Siaway building). They noted the significant cost savings, as well as environmental benefits, of refilling containers with laundry liquids for example.
The group was named early last year after a public meeting in Broadford, but it may be time to consider renaming to reflect a Skye-wide interest. Should it continue as PFBB or just be the SCA plastics subgroup? Let us know what you think. Quirky names welcome!
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 26th November at 7pm by Zoom.
Highland Council reinstates skips for community each cleans

Following requests by community members on Sleat, Highland Council has agreed to make skips available again for community beach cleans in Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh. This is welcome news for everyone who is trying to keep plastic off their beaches and out of the marine environment. For enquiries and to request a skip, please email the Council.

Consultation on restricting single-use plastic products

The Scottish Government is consulting on restrictions to the single-use plastic items that are most commonly found littering beaches, including cutlery, plates, straws, drinks stirrers and polystyrene food containers. Zero Waste Scotland is holding a webinar on this on 11 November at 3 pm and you can join in the conversation on Facebook. You can also give your views directly to the Scottish Government by completing the consultation response.
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Golden Skye Project

by Trish Rogers
This autumn Skye Climate Action has distributed 2000 daffodil bulbs across 14 communities in Skye to cheer the island up after the dark days of winter and to encourage communities to take part in the Golden Skye challenge. They are being asked to create the most creative containers from recycled material as well as source suitable soil. They will be judged in the Spring. The prize will be a selection of organic vegetable seeds, a trophy and the title ‘Skye Golden Village’.

Thomas Prentice has produced up-cycled black plastic signs saying: “Golden Skye. Bulbs donated by Skye Climate Action” to be displayed with the bulbs. The daffodil bulbs were sourced from Peter Nyssen Ltd, a company which supplies many of the Britain in Bloom towns and villages and it was a miracle that they arrived in Skye as the company was operating under extreme pressure due to the volume of orders and having to work under ever changing Covid regulations. They were recommended by local garden centres Loch Duich Plants and Abriachan Nurseries.

The idea for Golden Skye was developed by a number of Skye Climate Action supporters and organised by Trish Rogers (co-coordinator. Skye Climate Action). The bulbs were packed in recycled pillow cases and distributed to the island by Trish and supporter Becky Smith.

Watch out for a golden Skye in Spring 2021. Communities were also asked to envisage what their villages would look like in 2030.
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Skye Climate Action: Grow Skye! Dùisg an talamh! 

Fruit trees and bushes

It's the time of year to be ordering and planting fruit trees and bushes, so they can become well established for next year. Look for Scottish varieties and stockists, so that the plants are adapted to our climate. Choose apple varieties that fruit at different times to enjoy the produce over a longer period and, if you want to keep them over winter, select types that store well.

Local varieties
At Achmore, Colin Parsons has created an orchard with many different apple varieties. Bearing in mind that Skye has a slightly different climate to Lochalsh, take a look at Colin's article to learn about the qualities of the varieties he grows.

Port Allen Russet apple. "Good flavour, although quite sharp and chewy. Canker resistant."
Photo: Colin Parsons 

Let us know about your own favourite fruit trees and varieties; maybe there is an old gnarled apple tree on your croft, or you are planting a new fruit area. Do share your photos and stories to inspire others.

Old traditional orchards help to lock up carbon and provide a wide range of habitats for wildlife, but many have become neglected or even grubbed up. Luckily, more people are now planting or restoring fruit trees and orchards for community use, for  example along the Firth of Forth, and farmers in Fife want to revive Scottish apple production which has declined massively over the last century. Closer to home, Planet Sutherland is starting a local orchard project with the aim of making Sutherland self-sufficient in apples.

Free trees available
If you want to grow fruit for your community, free orchard trees are available from the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species - first come first served! 

And don't forget about wildlife: birds and mammals need fruit over the winter too, and insects benefit from flowering trees in spring. The Woodland Trust provides free tree packs for schools and communities and is currently taking orders for delivery in March 2021.

To help get you started with fruit growing West Highland College is offering two online courses:
Growing your Own Soft Fruit: Explaining the practical skills to grow soft fruit, and when to plant and establish different varieties, soils and drainage, weather, pests and diseases.
Tuesday 17th Nov, 7-9.30 pm, £20
Growing your own Tree Fruits and Nuts: Learn how to have more successful yields of tree fruit (and nuts), whether from just a couple of trees in your garden, or an orchard for domestic production. Tuesday 1st Dec, 7-9.30 pm, £20


Other West Highland College courses

To see us through the late Autumn, West Highland College has more of their excellent BEST online courses on food and growing. Check out the list below: 

Autumn ForagingAutumn is a great time for harvesting wild foods. Learn how to identify, gather and make use of a range of wild plants safely and sustainably. Monday 2nd Nov, 7-8.30 pm, £7.50

Healthy Soil and Compost: How to make our soil more fertile, deeper and richer the natural way using age old techniques and wisdom as well as looking to soil science. Tuesday 10th Nov, 7-9.30 pm, £20

Hedges and Shelter Belts: learn how hedges and shelter belts can improve the productivity of your garden, croft or  small holding. Tuesday 8th Dec, 7 pm - 9.30 pm, £20

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Plastic2Product Skye and The Wallace Collection

by Thomas Prentice
Plastic2Product Skye, a local startup that prints 3D parts from recycled plastic, was contacted earlier this year by The Wallace Collection brass ensemble, about the production of two sets of tools to help with the learning and cleaning of trumpets. The two custom tools are the SkyeBird - an embouchure exerciser (used to train the lips to play wind instruments) and the Scoosher - a trumpet cleaner.

Plastic2Product Skye were chosen because The Wallace Collection wanted to support a small local business, which recycles plastic thus benefiting the environment. Many of these produced items were sent by The Wallace Collection to people as part of their brass instrument course, which means the parts produced on Skye have been sent all over Scotland!
Scoosher - instrument hygiene helper

John Wallace of The Wallace Collection was invited to talk on BBC Radio Scotland about some events he was doing, during which he even gave Plastic2Product Skye a shoutout! Which was very appreciated - it was quite exciting being phoned up by a few people telling you that you had been mentioned on the radio without you even knowing! Plastic2Product Skye thanks The Wallace Collection for choosing to support a small local business. You can find out more about The Wallace Collection here.
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New Eco-shop in Broadford: The Selkie Collective
by Amy and Emma
The Selkie Collective is an eco-conscious shop and community resource based in Broadford. We decided to start The Selkie Collective to provide our community with the much needed Eco goods that many of us search for and buy on the internet. We also wanted to help bring together people within the local community who are already doing wonderful things to support the environment and provide education for children about our environmental impact. 

We aim to provide our local community with products, information, pop-up events, workshops and resources, which have sustainability, the environment and women’s health and wellbeing in mind. We have a passion for striving to take care of this beautiful planet and making it easier to make more sustainable choices, so that we can protect the environment for generations to come.

The Selkie Collective was founded by women and has a focus on providing a platform and support for other small, local and women owned businesses. We believe that women empowering each other and providing support in all areas of health and wellbeing can only help to uplift our community.

We aim to provide much needed eco, ethical and sustainable everyday products to our local community. We stock eco-friendly products such as toilet paper, foil, glass bottles, tooth brushes, deodorant, soap, skincare, and period products, to name a few. We have a refill section for household cleaners, washing up liquid, laundry liquid, shampoo and conditioner. Simply bring a bottle, refill and pay much less than you normally would. We stock locally made products where we can, otherwise we try to stock products made in the UK or Europe to cut air miles. We try to research all our products to ensure an ethical provenance. We have a list of products we want to stock in the future and are always happy to receive suggestions and recommendations.

You can find us on Shore Road in Broadford, next to Siaway fish & chips. At the moment we are open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 9.30am to 4pm and some Saturdays too. You can keep up to date by following us on facebook, instagram and our website.
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Highland Region and the Climate Emergency

Highland Council is holding an online Climate Conference on Monday 2nd November on our regional, national and global responses to the Climate Emergency.There will be a range of speakers as well as four workshops on Biodiversity & Habitat, The Bigger Picture, Personal Responsibility and the Green Recovery.

Click here for more information, the link to the main conference, the agenda and to register for the four workshops.

The recording of the second Highland climate change seminar held on 24th September is now available. “Working with Nature” featured speakers Paul Sizeland (SNH) on the role of ecological networks, John Risby (Scottish Forestry) on how trees can help to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and Andrew Midgely (RSPB) on how nature conservation organisations are aiding nature’s resilience to climate change.

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Highland Good Food Conversation

The Highland Good Food Conversation aims to support and inspire local people to come together to create a food system that is fair to all. Talking to producers, growers and consumers about community food, regenerative farming, bread and local dairying in the Highlands there is plenty to stimulate discussion on how to create a fairer and more climate friendly food system. Check out their website for more information and resources.

The Highland Good Food Conference will take place on five Monday afternoons in January and February 2021 with tickets on sale now. 
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Farming and the climate and ecological emergencies
As well as the Covid19 pandemic, our planet is in the throes of a climate and ecological emergency. Both crises are destroying the ecosystems that millions of species, including human beings, depend on. Industrial farming practices are contributing to loss of biodiversity and increased greenhouse gases, for example through deforestation in the Amazon for industrial cattle ranching.

The EU is responsible for 10% of the world’s deforestation, through its consumption of commodities like beef, soy for animal feed, palm oil and other products from deforested areas. WWF and over 100 NGOs have launched the #Together4Forests campaign asking the European Commission to create a strong law to protect forests and nature around the world by keeping products linked to deforestation and ecosystem destruction out of the EU market. Sign the petition and automatically contribute to the Together4Forests consultation response here.

With the food system globally producing as much as 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions, WWF is calling for action in six key areas around farming and food to help tackle the climate crisis, ranging from halting the conversion of natural ecosystems for food production to reducing emissions from livestock and reducing food wastage after harvest and in the home. The Soil Association reports how disruption of the planet's nitrogen cycle through artificial fertilisers is contributing to the climate crisis.

However, groups all over the world are now working to reform harmful farming practices, by trying out new techniques or reviving older, more sustainable approaches. Over 360 scientists from 42 countries are calling for the transition of food production systems to agro-ecological principles to support biodiversity and ecosystems whilst providing more nutritious and healthy food for all. In Scotland there is increasing interest in regenerative agriculture  which focuses on soil health and working with nature to reduce inputs while maintaining profits, and Soil Association Scotland is looking at the benefits of mob grazing for biodiversity.
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Nature Friendly Farming

by Phil Knott
Vice Chair, Scottish Steering Group of the Nature Friendly Farming Network. 

The Nature Friendly Farming Network is a relatively new organisation, led by concerned farmers and crofters. We are keen to see nature friendly practices in place across all farms, and have proven that it makes economical sense to do this, not just environmental. The organisation has members right across the UK and is set for an expansion in the coming years, with training and events planned in all corners of the UK. Membership as a supporter or farmer/crofter is free. The NFFN also work at Westminster and Holyrood to offer an alternative voice of farmers when it comes to legislation and bill creation. 

Our latest report, Nature Means Business presents a stark warning that farming is heading towards a cliff edge with its high input, high cost approach of working against, rather than with nature. This can change, but it requires changes in the agricultural payment system to help bring about structural changes for the long term viability of farming.

Our Crofting region has traditionally been low intensity and low input, and nature thrives here. We can always do more, and going forward there will likely be significant landscape changes, but that will mean more wildlife, more carbon storage, more food being produced and more people able to make a living off of the land.
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Crofting practices support corncrakes on Skye

A good example of nature-friendly farming is the work crofters are doing to help corncrakes. These elusive birds were once found across the UK but changes in agricultural practices in the 19th and 20th centuries saw their range shrink to just a few places on Scottish islands and the north west coast. Corncrakes migrate from Africa to breed here and are amongst Scotland's rarest birds. Their population continues to fall; the RSPB's 2019 survey recorded only 870 calling male corncrakes in the core areas of their range, down from 897 in 2018.

Corncrakes need the help of crofters and farmers to breed safely and rear the next generation before embarking on their journey back to Africa. They benefit from farming practices that encourage biodiversity such as  delayed mowing,  leaving uncut areas on field margins and encouraging tall plants such as iris, nettles and meadowsweet. One of the few areas they breed in is north Skye. Watch the RSPB's video on how crofters on the Waternish peninsula have adapted their farming practices to support corncrakes.

Corncrake calling. Photo: Claire Pegrum

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Scotland's nature needs urgent protection after Brexit

One in nine species is at risk of extinction in Scotland. As we leave the EU, we risk losing crucial environmental safeguards to protect Scotland's nature. The Scottish government’s Continuity Bill contains proposals for establishing a new environment watchdog but doesn't allow the watchdog to take action on specific complaints. We need a watchdog with teeth - with the power and independence to enforce environmental protections in the way the EU has done - and which allows people to challenge decisions affecting their environment, on land and at sea. Sign the petition here.
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Scotland and the Climate Emergency
The Scottish government is consulting on its next Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan which sets out the plans for investing in infrastructure including for active travel, buildings' energy efficiency, recycling, woodland cover, broadband, roads, manufacturing, communities, cities and islands, affordable homes, care centres and digital health care. The threefold aim is to support the transition to net zero emissions, drive inclusive economic growth and build sustainable and resilient places. As well as physical, social and digital infrastructure the consultation is also asking for input on natural infrastructure. Give your views here, deadline 19th November.

The UK's Committee on Climate Change has produced its 9th progress report to the Scottish Parliament, showing that Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 31% from 2008 to 2018, mainly due to reduced emissions in the power sector. But emissions increased by 2% in 2018, compared to a reduction of 3% in 2017.

The report recommends that Scottish Government updates its Climate Change Plan to ensure that Scotland is firmly on course for net zero by 2045, and that it participates in the UK Emissions Trading System. This is a 'cap and trade' system, in which the government sets a limit on emissions from specific industry sectors (which is ratcheted down each year) and allocates a certain number of permits to companies for their emissions. Such schemes vary in effectiveness between countries depending on how they are implemented. 

In addition, the Committee on Climate Change advises the Scottish Government to take action on low-carbon heating, supporting rural areas and fostering the skills needed for the net-zero transition. The government should also make it easy for people to walk, cycle, use public transport, and work from home in Scotland, and put measures in place to eliminate the need to buy a petrol or diesel car in Scotland by 2032 at the latest.
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Plastic’s Biological Breakthrough

by Thomas Prentice

While a goal of humanity should be to recycle all the plastic we use, currently only 32% of plastic used in Europe is recycled. With plastic waste becoming a more mainstream topic, countries have been looking at ways other than recycling to help reduce millions of tons of plastic a year ending up in our seas, landscapes and landfills each year.

Waste-to-energy power plants were once pushed as one of the solutions to our plastic problem, but recently they have seen a fall from favour due to the massive costs of building new incinerators, waste transport problems, and the potential to release low emissions of toxic gases and heavy metals. This has led scientists to try and find new, innovative ways of dealing with our plastic.

A recent breakthrough earlier this year was from an enzyme which was originally found in compost piles. Scientists were able to successfully mutate the enzyme to boost its efficiency. The enzyme works by breaking down heated PET plastic, turning it back into the materials originally used to make it. The advancement allowed scientists to successfully degrade 90% of a tonne of plastic bottles within 10 hours; they then used the new material to make new food grade bottles.
This is not the first breakthrough in enzymatic recycling of plastic. In 2018 a plastic eating enzyme was accidentally created by scientists, while other research has shown some bacteria can break down other types of plastic, and that even wax moth larvae can break down plastic bags.

While there is still a lot of research to be done on biologically breaking down plastic, and many scientific and economical hurdles for the technology to pass, it does look like over the next few years this could become an important tool - along with conventional recycling - to combat global plastic waste.
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The events below, and more, are on our website calendar.
Check out the site as events are continually being added.
2nd November: Highland Council Climate Change Conference
2nd November: Visit Scotland Responsible Tourism in Scotland webinar
2nd November: UHI course Autumn foraging
3rd November: Grassroots to Global  Supporting peoples' assemblies in Scotland
3rd November: Interfaith Scotland Climate Action Cop26- Ramp up ambition!
3rd November: Skye Climate Action steering group meeting
9th November: Communities for Future Community-led action in Europe
9th November: C40 cities The Race to Zero Coalition: From COVID-19 to COP26
10th November: Scottish Land & Estates Gearing up for change in rural Scotland
10th November: Interfaith Scotland Climate Action Hope for the Future
10th November: UHI course Healthy Soil and Compost
11th November: Zero Waste Scotland Single use plastic webinar
11th November: John Muir Trust Smaller Footprints
11th November: Transition Network "What if" and "What is"
11th November: Glasgow Science Centre Small Island States: Living With Climate Change 
12th November: Law firms' Countdown to COP26 
12th November-16th December: COP26 Coalition global gathering From the Ground Up
13th November: Race to Zero Dialogues Nature's place in the race
16th November: WWF Scotland & Scottish Power COP26 Climate collaboration challenge
17th November: Regen Exploring shifts in energy generation, storage and use
17th November: SCCAN and South Seeds How to set up a tool library
17th November: UHI course Growing your own soft fruit
17th November: Race to Zero Dialogues Building Resilient Food Systems
19th November: Regen Making our homes fit for the future
19th November: Skye Climate Action Conversation with friends across the region 
24th November: Garden Organic The principles of organic gardening
24th November: Regen Unlocking investment to build back greener
25th November: John Muir Trust Wildness for all
26th November: Regen Green Recovery leaders' debate
26th November: Trees for Life and friends Trees, community and climate
26th November: Skye Climate Action Plastics meeting 
1st December: UHI course Growing your own tree fruits and nuts
2nd December: Communities for Future Communities of practice- examples from Europe
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