The Trust and its subsidiaries always have a busy workload and the following are just some of the current initiatives:
Community Broadband (Skyenet) - Bringing a better broadband service through wireless technology to remote parts of the peninsula. See www.skyenet.co.uk
Forest Enterprise - Increasing forest product sales of woodchip and split log to local customers and businesses.
Armadale Trading Redevelopment - The redevelopment of the Armadale trading area to include new fuel, shop and Post Office facilities with office space for Trust staff along with an affordable housing unit continues. Rural Designs are designing the facility as our architects at present. We are establishing funding applications for the capital costs.
We are to start work with Enscape on a feasibility study to consider Biowaste in February 2018. This type of household and business waste can be placed in an anaerobic digester to create gas and compost. The gas can be used to create heat and the compost used in our Tree Nursery. We await their advice and report findings.
The University of the West of Scotland will start a Pine Weevil Study in Tormore Forest in March 2018.
We are looking to rejuvenate and restart our Forest School in 2018 with Emma Micski. We will be adding the John Muir Trust Award Scheme to this exciting and interesting opportunity for young people.
Working with Enviro Explorers we are looking to develop an app for smart phones in 2018 that uses GPS to enable Geocaching on the peninsula; but rather than finding small items of treasure, we'll be looking to use the technology to seek out places and areas of interest for educational purposes.
Enviro Explorers call this app "Envirocache" it's a mobile app which will encourage children to get outside and take part in nature treasure hunts. It has the benefit of allowing children to use technology to become more active, and can be used as an educational tool to help them and their families learn more about the nature that surrounds them. What is more amazing is that the two developers of this idea are 16 years old and still at Wick High School! For more information follow this link.
We are hoping that Mabbett will be able to secure funds from Zero Waste Scotland to enable research into the use of seaweed and waste wood as commercial opportunities in 2018. Seaweed can be used in many ways, including as a food product, and we have a lot of brash and waste wood from harvesting that could be used as charcoal, as just one an example.
Work will start in February 2018 on the clearing of an area of land to the left of Tormore Forest's entrance gate. The area of land has been identified for our Tree Nursery Project. This will include levelling and draining that area of land, installing a poly tunnel and storage sheds, and creating a small field for planting. The project has been funded by the Peoples Postcode Lottery Trust and will enable school children, plus other young people and their families to grow trees that will form a part of the replanting work for the forest. In time, we look to offer the chance to grow seasonal vegetables and plants too.
We are also to start scoping work with St. Andrews University in 2018. We were introduced to Dr. Alan Miller of St. Andrews University by Shai MacDonald, Business Engagement Executive at Interface.
Dr. Miller and his team are supporting organisations in developing ICT related solutions for small to medium sized enterprises, this includes using technology to increase tourism and interest in geographic locations. Our work with Dr. Miller, St. Andrews and his organisation Smart History will enable SCT to improve its digital profile, by:
· Providing complete web redesign
· Providing 2D, 3D and aerial imagery for the web sites of areas of natural beauty
· Develop new web mapping with one click web links to images of the peninsula, stimulating improved interest in the area
· Develop app based technology. Downloading an app from the comfort of your home, B&B or hotel will allow smart phones to track your location on a walk on Sleat. With GPS technology, smart phones provide real time information and interpretation of items of interest on your walk. Such as a castle ruin, beach, or view point.
· Provide digitisation of sites of interest (such as the two fanks, and historic dwellings); this will include historic interpretation and virtual reality images (3D opportunities to see these sites of interest as they were in history through the app on smart phones or web). An example of the type of work can be found here.
· New and improved signage
SCT will now look at these opportunities and decide what it would like St. Andrews to undertake for us.
It is hoped that this work will stimulate increased interest in the peninsula and that people will visit and then stay to explore, increasing the footfall and in turn helping improve our local economy. In response, we have submitted an Expression of Interest to Skyeconnect to help improve our local tourism infrastructure.