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Caithness News Bulletins March 2006

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Friends Of Newtonhill Community Woodland

Caithness Rangers

Newtonhill Community Woodland in Wick has seen dramatic improvements over the last couple of years thanks to the combined efforts of the Highland Council's Planning and Development Service and Friends of Newtonhill Woodland community group. The upgrading works have boosted the visitor numbers to the site and have been well used by school groups and community groups. Last year, the woodland attracted over 21,000 visitors.

Efforts to keep improving the woodland are on-going and the latest project is to create a pond suitable for pond dipping with school groups and to enhance the habitat for wildlife.

Planning and Development Service East Caithness ranger, Marina Swanson describes the project: "Last summer, local primary schools and the Wick High school visited the woodland and under took a range of environmental activities. Although there is wonderful wildlife on site and there is much to see and do, the children especially enjoy practical activities and the lack of safe pond dipping facilities restricted learning opportunities. Pond dipping facilities at the woodland would be a very welcome and well used resource".

The pond is proposed to be created in an area of the woodland known as Newton Moss. This peatland area is already very wet and is out of harms way from the original rubbish dump.

To ensure the water quality is suitable for pond dipping activities, Sarah Henderson from UKAEA recently obtained water samples for analysis. UKAEA has kindly donated use of equipment, staff time and the cost of the analyses to help with this community project.

Rob Henderson, chairman of the 'Friends of Newtonhill Woodland said: "A dipping pond is an exciting, educational and environmental resource that has the potential to be used by families, schools and other youth organisations. The Friends group is delighted that Highland Council and UKAEA are supporting our attempts to develop the Newtonhill site."

The Friends of Newtonhill would welcome further support from the local community and invite anyone with an interest in the woodland to join their group. A clean up of the woodland is planned for April 22nd and new volunteers would be most welcome. Please contact Marina Swanson on 01955 607758 or e-mail Marina Swanson on marina.swanson@highland.gov.uk for further information.