South East Scotland Scouts would like to congratulate Fraser Dunmore of Craigalmond District who has been awarded the Scout of the World Award (SOWA).

This is Fraser’s story of how he achieved the award:

“SOWA is an international Scout award for network members aged 18-25 years old. You must attend a 2-day discovery weekend and then complete a SOWA voluntary project (80 hours) based on one or more of the three themes (Peace, Environment and Sustainable Development)

I attended the Discovery Weekend in May 2020 over zoom. I decided to base my project on Corstorphine Hill pushing back the progress of a non-native, invasive species called Salmonberry. My theme was Environment and Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals were:

  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities 
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land

Salmonberry is originally from North America and was brought over 100 years ago and it has managed to get out of control and move into our local woodlands. Salmonberry is a shrub growing to 1–4 meters tall with a woody stem that is covered with fine prickles. 

Salmonberry is now a huge problem for us in Scotland. Salmonberry is an important component of the ecosystem in its native habitat; it provides food for a number of mammals, birds and invertebrates. However, it forms dense stands that exclude other vegetation, it can invade grassland and the shrub layer of woodland and compete with conifer seedlings in regenerating woodland. If it is not cut back and its growth controlled it can destroy a woodlands biodiversity. It spreads through its underground route system and from its berry’s. You can only chop it down during September – February due to the bird nesting season. The project is important because if we just leave it then it will grow all over the woodland and take out all the native undergrowth. 

I wanted to do this project as I spend a lot of time up Corstorphine Hill and have spent all my life exploring and learning about the woods. I am also a big believer that people should look after their own local woodlands.

At the start of my project, I mapped out the area, got groups signed up to support, did a lot of Risk Assessments and had discussions with the council. I got the first groups involved in weekend evets in the December. It was great to have groups of young people and adults up as we were able to clear large areas at once. When the second lockdown came in, I had to go up more on my own or with one other person at a time. While I was up there, I spent a lot of time talking to walkers who were always interested in finding out what I was doing. 

Sadly, due to Covid we had to cancel all the groups that were planning to come up in January and February but I plan to get them up next year. 

The end results were amazing; a massive chunk of Salmonberry has been removed from Corstorphine Hill allowing native plants and trees to grow; more young people and adults are aware of the invasive plants; people have given me their contact details for them to get involved in similar projects in the future and people have seen the work Scouting have done and decided to do some clearance themselves.

The Project is Sustainable because the piles of Salmonberry have become a new habitat for nesting birds, mice and loads of bugs; native plants and trees are now growing without getting destroyed by Salmonberry and we have stopped the development of the invasive plant on Corstorphine Hill. 

In total we had over 420 labour hours logged by young people and adults and I personally undertook 88 hours of work.

I am very proud to have achieved the Scout of the World Award and I would like to thank my mentor, Marcus, for all of his help and support and that of the SOWA Training Team”