Cuningar Riverside Woodland Park – an ambitious project providing valuable green infrastructure in a regeneration area.
The Commonwealth Games are now in full swing in Glasgow, with 4,500 participants accommodated in the new Athletes’ Village, a 35-hectare site, in the east end of the city. Across the River Clyde from the village is a peninsula of land formed by a hairpin loop in the river known as the Cuningar Loop.
The Cuningar Loop Riverside Woodland Park is a significant partnership which forms an integral part of Glasgow’s East End Regeneration programme. The redevelopment of the site is also one of the ‘sustainable’ Legacy 2014 projects and will cost in the region of £5 million. The site comprises 27 hectares of vacant and derelict land at the heart of the Clyde Gateway regeneration area. The land is owned by South Lanarkshire Council and a partnership has formed between Forestry Commission Scotland, South Lanarkshire Council and Clyde Gateway to develop almost 15 hectares of the site into a new riverside woodland park, enabling over 100,000 local residents and visitors a year to get out into nature within the city, get more active and engage with a range of exciting community events.
The site is being redeveloped into native woodland, open grassland and meadows, with space to play and relax. Trails, picnic areas and natural play facilities are being created to enhance the visitor experience and a community ranger will work with local volunteer groups and schools to encourage outdoor activities on site. The new park will be an ideal location for Forestry Commission Scotland’s Forest School programme, which is an inspirational model that is child rather than content centred. It offers young people regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence, resilience and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment. Anecdotal evidence supports a positive impact on a child’s academic performance with pupils better able to recognise and manage risk, as well as engage their innate curiosity and interest in nature. Sian Bartholomew, head-teacher of Highpark Primary in Glasgow ran a Forest School project prior to the merger of her two previous schools, Westercommon Primary and Ruchill Primary. She said: “The benefits of Forest School are wide-ranging and the difference in the confidence of our pupils was incredible. They had the confidence to explore away from the adults, try new things and experiment. They also developed the ability to play in an unstructured setting.”
Cuningar Loop Riverside Woodland Park will be used actively for skills development with a woodland apprenticeship scheme and will also facilitate other ‘back to work’ programmes run by other local organisations. The riparian woodland will be an active and green heart in the Clyde Gateway urban regeneration area and will help drive positive social and economic changes in the surrounding communities.
“This is an ambitious and exciting project which will provide an active and green heart in this important urban regeneration area, as well as a valuable legacy to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.” Stuart Chalmers, District Forester, Forestry Commission Scotland
Natural Play Benefits: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/NaturalPlaySummary.pdf/$file/NaturalPlaySummary.pdf
Cuningar Loop: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/cuningar.pdf/$file/cuningar.pdf