‘Coastodians’ set to champion Solway Coast future via ambitious Solway Coast and Marine Project

Thursday, 14 March 2024 09:54

Ecosystem restoration, citizen science, access improvements and a region-wide coastal path are some of the recommendations that have emerged from a report into potential natural capital investment along the Solway coast. The encouragement of a community-based environmental activist network – Coastodians – has also been highlighted as a way of embedding community involvement into any future developments.

The report was commissioned by the Solway Coast and Marine Project (SCAMP), an ambitious 15-year project led by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Solway Firth Partnership, to explore how communities could benefit from a healthy and thriving coastal and marine environment.

Almost a thousand people from across Dumfries and Galloway fed into the engagement, and the story of the project and the people involved in it is now being told in a 15 minute film titled "Coastodians - Charting the Future of the Solway Coast". The film has been made by local ecological filmmaker, John Wallace who has a very deep relationship with nature and the people who work along the coast. The film includes fascinating footage of the varied coastline of Dumfries and Galloway, and it will premiere at the launch event of the SCAMP project report on Monday 25th March at 6.30pm at the University of Glasgow’s Crichton Campus in Dumfries.

Local consultant, Barbara Chalmers, who led the community engagement said:

“The main finding was that the future of our coastline matters very deeply to the people of this region. People want to be involved in nature restoration, and people want to be able to access nature-based experiences more easily.

“There is a big opportunity to entwine the ecosystem restoration plans of SCAMP with the hopes and ambitions of our communities. With so many communities across Dumfries and Galloway developing Place Plans, now is the perfect time to integrate local community development with nature-based approaches.

“The idea behind the Coastodians recommendation is about creating a practical way in which that enthusiasm, expertise and passion can be harnessed to support ecosystem restoration and climate change mitigation. It’s about connecting people to each other, as well as to nature. So much of what needs to be done to safeguard habitats along our coastline is mapping and monitoring, which makes a citizen science approach a no brainer, empowering local people within coastal communities to get involved in safeguarding the future of their coastal ecosystems.”

The engagement was funded through the Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) to explore how private sector investment could help fund the restoration of coastal and marine habitats, such as seagrass, saltmarsh, coastal woodlands and native oyster beds.

Councillor Ian Carruthers, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee said: “Although this is just the first stage, I am delighted to see the progress on this extremely worthwhile and exciting project already. Local communities have really engaged with the work and are making their views heard and I hope this continues. As I’ve said in the past, Dumfries and Galloway has a huge coastline, and we are very fortunate in this. With people living and working along the 200 mile stretch and the ever-present effects of climate change and erosion, we need to address issues now and future proof our coastal and marine habitats for future generations.”

Councillor David Inglis, Vice-Chair of Economy and Resources Committee went on to say: “This is an ambitious project and I would encourage all those with a passion for our Solway coast to get in touch and volunteer to be a ‘Coastodian’. This may apply to those who just enjoy our walks and beaches, or it may be those who are intrinsically connected through their line of work; we need input from all angles. To secure private sector investment in the future we must demonstrate need, and local people are best placed to identify that need and build on it with their community aspirations. I look forward to seeing how this project develops.”

Representatives from communities who took part in the first engagement are being invited to continue to explore nature-based development. The SCAMP project is organising a group visit to Arran to research a marine restoration project, and small grants for community-led nature activities have also been provided, with grants going to community groups right along the Solway coast, from Powfoot to Port William.

Members of the public who are interested in attending the screening of Coastodians on Monday 25th March can register to view it in person or online at Eventbrite.


For more information about the Solway Coast and Marine Project, follow it on Facebook for project updates, related opportunities and nature-based news. https://www.facebook.com/SolwayMarine. The report will be available to read after the launch event on 25th March.