The Muirshiel Regeneration Project

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, originally a grouse shooting estate, covers an area of 28,000 hectares (110 sq. miles) of Inverclyde, North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, stretching from Greenock in the north, down the coast to Largs and West Kilbride and inland to Dalry and Lochwinnoch.  The area includes around 10,000 hectares of Scotland’s most accessible areas of wild land: unlike many wild areas, two million people live within 30 minutes of the area.  However, the landscape has been scarred by a long history of peatland drainage leading to the prevalence of coarse grass and heather vegetation instead of the original sphagnum moss. The drainage has also led to the drying out of the peat and the release of CO2 emissions contributing to the climate crisis. Since 2017 the Yearn Stane Project, in conjunction with the Eadha Project (Gaelic for aspen) and a local environmental consultancy, Starling Learning, have been working with the local community and landowners to plant trees and restore the park’s badly degraded peatlands and increase its biodiversity.  The vision of the Yearn Stane Project (named after a distinctive stone in the Park) is to restore natural processes in the area for the benefit of wildlife and people, and to improve the resilience of local communities to climate change and other pressures. In 2021 the Yearn Stane Project joined with the Lochwinnoch Community Development Trust to work towards obtaining a Community Asset Transfer of the portion of the park within Renfrewshire (known as Tandlemuir) so that ownership would transfer to the local community. Tandlemuir is an area of around 1500 hectares owned by Renfrewshire Council and containing the River Calder and the Clyde Muirshiel Park visitors’ centre. The area comprises around 500 hectares of rough grazing and 1000 hectares of partly degraded peat bog.  We are currently in negotiations with Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Land Fund, local farmers and other interested bodies about the possibility of community ownership. Vision of the Muirshiel Regeneration Project The basic vision is to secure the future of Tandlemuir for the benefit of local communities. We aim to encourage sustainable land use practices that will boost biodiversity, reduce flooding and capture carbon. It is our hope that this will lead to resilient, nature-based solutions that will benefit the social and economic wellbeing of the people of Renfrewshire. This vision aligns with the objectives identified by The Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy:

  • Land-based business, working with nature to contribute more to Scotland’s prosperity.
  • Responsible stewardship of Scotland’s natural resources delivering more benefits to Scotland’s people.
  • Urban and rural communities better connected to the land, with more people enjoying the countryside and positively influencing land use.

. Aims and Objectives Peatland Restoration An initial survey by Peatland Action identified nearly 200ha of degraded peat bog in the park area and nearly 30,000m of drainage ditches. It is estimated that restoring the peatland could result in a reduction of 330t of carbon emissions annually as well as reducing the risk of flooding in Lochwinnoch and further downstream.  Scotland is currently meeting only half its target to restore 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of peatland a year. Tree planting and Farming We intend to continue tree planting mainly along the sides of burns which, together with fencing selected areas, will enable ecological restoration in the absence of sheep grazing, thus increasing biodiversity. Agriculture and Agroforestry We aim to restore two derelict farm properties at Heathfield and Orblis Hill and lease them to young farmers to develop appropriate small scale sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, including highland cattle, pigs, poultry, market gardening etc.  This will provide employment and income opportunities.  We will also work with the existing tenant farmer. Sustainable Leisure and Tourism We are aware of the huge potential benefits to physical and mental health of access to wild spaces and aim to develop small scale, sustainable tourism which has minimum impact on biodiversity.  This could include constructing small eco-lodges, possibly attached to the restored farms.  They would be supplied by renewable energy including hydro power, solar pv panels and heat pumps.  This would provide economically and environmentally sustainable employment and income opportunities. We will engage with local schools highlighting the environmental benefits of the project and offer a local fieldwork site for projects. We may consider a small electric minibus service from the village. Facebook Instagram