Imbewu Scotland – Project Update

The Wilderness Foundation (reg charity. no. SC041697) recognizes that our youth face some of the greatest challenges of any generation through history, due in part to increasing urbanisation, economic crises and over population.  This includes their loss of a vital connection to the natural world thus impacting on wellbeing and sustainable futures. Therefore in 2013 we launched Imbewu Scotland, an inter-generational project which shares the knowledge and wisdom of people who live and work in rural Scotland, including estate managers, countryside rangers and wilderness guides, with young people from urban backgrounds.  Week-long residential trails, which include wilderness journeys in the most remote and beautiful parts of rural Scotland, plus a conservation project on one of a number of partner estates, enabled young people to grow an awareness and love of nature and the outdoors.  A leadership and personal development curriculum underpins the programme, thus supporting citizenship, employability and improved social skills in young people.
The 2 year pilot Imbewu Scotland programme has been partnered by Scottish Land & Estates. It aligns closely with a number of the Scottish Government National Outcomes, and is designed to inspire urban youth to consider and experience opportunities for rural work and to develop an understanding of Scotland’s natural heritage.
Conservation project sticks in fence
85 young people, the majority from Perthshire and Aberdeenshire, took part in trails delivered on 6 different host estates across Scotland.  Following the trails, to date 51% of participants have made curriculum course choices based on their Imbewu experience; 34% were influenced in their choice of further education course; 27% have taken part in work experience linked to rural employment and 50% reported an increased connection to nature.
Earlier this year, we launched a new Imbewu Scotland 2015 programme.  This comprises  a week long experiential learning courses, each for up to 12 young people, including a 3-day wilderness trail, led by professional wilderness guides, during which the group will explore the area, camping in remote locations where they will learn about land use, landscape and camp craft and take part in nature based activities.
The curriculum covers access to nature, ecological heritage, history of landscape, conservation practice, estate management, rural heritage skills, sustainable land management, biodiversity, ecosystems and the link between nature and well-being. The remainder of the course involves a conservation volunteering project initiated by partner estates and these can range from path clearance and alien vegetation clearance to fence building or wildlife habitat restoration.
Participants develop awareness and hands-on experience of rural jobs such as wildlife conservation, estate management, shepherding, fishing and forestry, tourism and renewable energy. We work with our partner estates and others to source further work placement and volunteering opportunities for our graduates building on the successes of the pilot programme.
The trails are delivered on Atholl Estates and Douglas & Angus Estate;  on completion participants receive the John Muir Discovery Award and Leave No Trace Awareness accreditation – enhancing personal development and employability skills.
Following graduation, the Imbewu Scotland participants are assisted in following their chosen career path via the charity’s ‘Pathways to Progress’ handbook, workshops and support from Imbewu staff. Materials are designed to assist with further education choices, employment and work experience in rural Scotland.
How you can help
The project connects with forward thinking teachers, youth groups, estates and other partners.  If you would like further information please contact David Eckersley (Project Coordinator) email: david@wildernessfoundation.org.uk; office 0300 1233 073 or mobile 07920 008608.
“I want to…incorporate the ‘Leave No Trace Principles’ into everyday life and, in work, attempt to find ways to do things that are less damaging to the environment.” (Kirsty, Imbewu 2013)
“Nature offers an escape from the hectic world we live in today.” (Dillan, Imbewu 2013)
We are delighted that in their latest e-newsletter the CEO of Scottish Land & Estates. Douglas McAdam reported on our project’s success.  Read the whole newsletter here
Excerpt:
CEO Welcome
There has been fantastic weather this week for the latest Imbewu Scotland trail, a project which shares the knowledge and wisdom of people who live and work in rural Scotland, including estate workers and managers, with young people from urban backgrounds. Week-long residential trails, which include wilderness journeys in the most remote and beautiful parts of rural Scotland, enable young people to grow an awareness and love of nature, the outdoors and the potential and possibilities of a career in the rural sector . The trail this week has taken place at Douglas & Angus Estates in South Lanarkshire.
On Wednesday this week I attended the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee to give evidence on the sporting rates and deer management sections of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, where I emphasised the risks posed to our rural economy and conservation by the new proposals. Following on from this evidence session, we issued a press release to highlight the fact that the Scottish Government has so far failed to undertake proper due diligence in conducting necessary economic and environmental impact assessments on its plans to re-introduce non-domestic rates on shooting and deer forests as part of the forthcoming Land Reform Bill. The full press release can be found in the news below.
As part of its Stage 1 scrutiny the Committee visited the Borders on Monday where they met with agricultural tenants from the area, representatives from the Lowland Deer Management Network and visited Roxburghe Estates to discuss the Bill with tenants, estate employees and the Duke of Roxburghe.
Douglas McAdam
Chief Executive
 Scottish Land & Estates