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6 Dec 2023

Jackie Bird becomes a ranger for the day at Glencoe


Three voices: Jackie Bird, Lindsay Warner, Scott McCombie

I have a real soft spot for Glencoe. There's something magical about it.
It can be menacing; it can be dystopian -- it's really got so many facets.
It is a magical place.
I wanted to find out what it's like to be a ranger.
The rangers seem to be happiest, jubilant in their jobs -- and when you look around at this, is it any wonder?
Why did you decide to become a ranger?

There's so much variety in it and you're outdoors a lot of the time, really involved with nature and helping to protect it as well, so it just ticks all the boxes for me.

So, conservation, that's a key part of your job?

Absolutely. Wherever people go, with best intentions we always do end up leaving a trace so it's important to be able to protect it, look after it and manage the land in a way that it's at its best.
It is so important to be able to talk to people and just to get the 'Leave No Trace' message apparent.
For some people, maybe they understand it's not leaving litter but they forget about the nails from the wood that they've brought with them to have a campfire. The scorch mark on the ground -- that's still a trace, it's still a mark that they were here.
Something like this can literally take years to get back to the vegetation that was here so what we do, we try and give it an extra helping hand.

So, you dig over it?

We dig over it.
The aim is to try and get the good soil on the top.

I see. Can I have a go please?
It's a case of just turning it over, just to give nature a helping hand, as you say.


It's great to have the president out here with us.
It was a filthy morning, raining, but it didn't stop her at all.
She got mucked in with Lindsay and she now has a better idea of what we're doing here in the ground.

Lindsay, I have to confess I'm quite partial to a rhoddy. Why do they get such a bad rap?

It's not all rhododendrons.
One in particular, Rhododendron ponticum, just completely takes over.
It's not native; it's not from here; it's from the Himalayas, I believe.
It can grow really dense -- you can see acres of hillside disappearing to it.
And around here, just at our feet, we've got a little birch tree; we've got baby rowan trees; we've got heather, grasses, mosses, all kinds of different things.
And this will out-compete all of them, and when it gets really big there's nothing underneath them.
The flowers are gorgeous -- that's the problem.
That's why the Victorians brought them over because they were so beautiful.

There's so much work that is done here.
The work that you can see and, of course, the work in the background that you can't see.

Oh! Well done you. Nice and clean. That's a clean wound!

That's good!

It may be a cinematic backdrop but what goes on here -- the work -- is so very, very real.
And we really could not do it without our members, our donors and of course the People's Postcode Lottery.

Since 2014, People's Postcode Lottery has provided around about £2.5 million worth of funds into the Trust, adding that to our membership income, our cafe and gift shop income.
It's essential to keeping the Trust ticking over.

Lindsay wouldn't be here without people playing the People's Postcode Lottery, so we are so grateful for their support.

National Trust for Scotland President Jackie Bird braved the rain at Glencoe National Nature Reserve to support vital conservation work.

Jackie became a volunteer ranger for a day to experience for herself the important work taking place at Glencoe made possible thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and others.

Braving heavy rain, she joined members of the ranger team at Glencoe to help with the vital work they carry out on the National Nature Reserve to manage the impacts of increased visitor numbers and the effects of climate change.

Glencoe is one of Scotland’s busiest National Nature Reserves, with over 2 million vehicles driving through on the A82 each year. Our visitor centre has seen a 30% rise in visitors this year compared to 2022, welcoming over 270,000 people since January 2023.

Balancing nature conservation with responsible enjoyment and access is at the heart of our activities in Glencoe and Glen Etive. Keen to lend her support, the Trust President put on her waterproofs and got stuck into various tasks alongside Glencoe’s rangers, including a camping patrol, litter picking, invasive and non-native Rhododendron ponticum and Sitka spruce removal, and meeting visitors during a Land Rover experience.

Jackie said: ‘The opportunity to experience the wet, wild and wonderful landscape of Glencoe NNR from the perspective of the rangers who do amazing work to care for this special place was too good to miss – even in some very dramatic Scottish weather conditions.’

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the team here who work tirelessly to protect Glencoe’s natural assets from increased visitor numbers and changes to our environment.”
Jackie Bird
President of the National Trust for Scotland

She continued: ‘It demonstrates the need for this vital conservation work to continue as well as the importance of the generous support provided by National Trust for Scotland members and donors. Without that, none of this would be possible.’

In addition to the invaluable support from our members, the work taking place at Glencoe has been strengthened by generous funding, including support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Since 2014, players of the lottery have raised over £2.5 million for the National Trust for Scotland to support its work to enrich and protect Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife. At Glencoe, this support has helped with habitat restoration projects as well as expanding the team to bring in additional rangers like Lindsay Warner. Lindsay is tasked with ensuring that visitors experience the glen’s stunning scenery and wildlife without leaving a negative impact, while also entertaining and educating them about Glencoe’s history and nature on the Land Rover Safari Experience.

Figures from our ranger team show an 18% rise in 2023 in the number of tent campers and a 10% rise in the number of campervans/motorhomes stopping overnight. The rangers have engaged with around 600 people this year, chatting with campers and sharing useful advice on how to ‘leave no trace’. Although this has helped to reduce the amount of littering and irresponsible behaviour in the glen, unfortunately some visitors still leave their mark. Trust staff and volunteers have carried out over 200 hours of litter picking so far this year, collecting more than 200 bags of waste.

Jackie Bird stands in front of a re-created turf house in Glencoe. It has a conical turf roof and low walls. Jackie wears a waterproof coat and hat, and is smiling at the camera.
Jackie Bird at the Glencoe Turf House

Emily Bryce, the National Trust for Scotland’s Operations Manager at Glencoe, said: ‘It’s been great to welcome Jackie to Glencoe and have her experience life as one of our rangers. Their work is essential to our mission of balancing sustainable tourism and access alongside conservation of the flora and fauna that make this special place home.’

“Whether picking up litter, clearing firepit damage or helping us remove invasive rhododendrons and Sitka spruce, Jackie was up for anything, while enduring some very dramatic Highland weather. We can’t thank her enough for her time and support.”
Emily Bryce
Operations Manager, Glencoe NNR

Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery Laura Chow said: ‘We’re thrilled that players are able to support organisations like the National Trust for Scotland in their efforts to care for some of our country’s most important and iconic landscapes. Scotland’s National Nature Reserves are home to a diverse range of rare and remarkable plant and wildlife, so it’s great to see the benefits of player support in action. Funding is supporting vital projects such as habitat restoration, species monitoring, and visitor engagement, and is helping to protect these incredible locations for future generations to come.’

Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery’s Love Our Nature project and other organisations, visitors, members and donors ensure the delivery of the National Trust for Scotland’s vision of nature, beauty and heritage for everyone. These projects contribute to our 10-year strategy, launched in 2022, and support our conservation objectives to stabilise and improve the condition of our estate, enable nature to flourish and enrich Scotland’s protected heritage.

NatureScot’s Better Places Fund, together with many private individuals, has also supported wider conservation work at Glencoe, with funding used to employ seasonal rangers. These seasonal rangers bolster the team during the busy season to assist with daily duties carried out on the nature reserve, such as camping patrols and visitor engagement.

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