Over 200 people recently attended events on the new Environmental Co-operation Action Fund in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

The Environmental Co-operation Action Fund is a new £10 million scheme which is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).  The purpose of this new competitive fund is to encourage the development and delivery of landscape scale environmental projects by paying facilitators to initiate and enable co-ordinated environmental actions on multiple land holdings in a project area.

Views are being sought on the future direction of the Cairngorm and Glenmore area of the Cairngorms National Park.

A 14-week public consultation has launched with the aim of developing a long-term strategy for the management of the publicly-owned land in this area.

Royal Society of Edinburgh discussion - Life in the Soil: does it matter?

The evening will focus on the vital roles which biodiversity beneath our feet play - in maintaining the soil's fertility, the ecosystems services which they perform, the possibility of new pharmaceutical products, and the problems associated with disease transmission. Soil ecosystems are rich, diverse and vital to life and society.

Speakers to include:

The Pairc Trust, a community body in South-East Lewis, has recently (4 December) completed the purchase of the Pairc Estate on behalf of the community of some 400 crofters and residents.

The Pairc Trust have been trying to bring the 28,000 acre estate into community ownership since 2003. 

The purchase has now been made on the basis of a voluntary transfer by the landlord, after a long history involving several ballots and applications by Pairc Trust to the Scottish Government under Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. 

What Future for our Farming Systems? Environmental Challenges and Integrated Solutions

Farming systems across Scotland, the UK and Europe can vary markedly from place to place. A range of factors can influence what types of production are practiced in any one place. However, climate and soil type are especially important in dictating the type and intensity of management that is possible.

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the draft Land Use Strategy 2016-2021.

The ten-week consultation seeks views on the future of land use, with the aim of getting the most from Scotland's land in an integrated and sustainable way.

A range of policies and proposals are set out including:

The rural charity RSABI has launched its 2015/16 Help for Heating Fund.

Fixed grants of £300 are available to anyone with a background in farming, crofting, forestry, horticulture, fish-farming, game-keeping and rural estate work, who is in fuel poverty (when a household has to spend 10% or more of its income to maintain acceptable levels of warmth) and meets RSABI criteria for receiving financial help.

RSABI Welfare Manager, John Macfarlane, who oversees the Help for Heating Fund said:

The Scottish Government is hosting a series of workshops to discuss the Environmental Co-operation Action Fund and to answer questions about the scheme.

These free workshops will include general queries and, if you are thinking about applying, questions on eligibility, priorities, and project proposals with a view to encouraging high quality applications.

A three-year training programme for people from multi-cultural communities has been launched in the Cairngorms National Park.

The Community Leadership Project will train 15 people from across Scotland giving them the skills and qualifications to develop and deliver local environmental projects.

The Anders Wall Award for individuals who have made a special contribution to the rural environment within the European Union is open for entries.

Anders Wall Foundation from Stockholm in association with the European Commission, Directorate General for the Environment, Brussels, the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and the "Friends of the Countryside", has decided to introduce the award.

The landowner of the selected project will receive a prize of €15,000.

Eligibility criteria: