Dreel Burn Community Update

Dreel Burn Community Update

In 2022 the AIA launched the ambitious Dreel Burn Project and created our vision for the future of the burn.

The project has grown from strength to strength, working with our steering group and engaging with members of our local community including key stakeholders, partners, education providers and volunteers.

Community Engagement

Fish in the Classroom

Working with Forth Rivers Trust, the AIA organised an educational project from January to March 2024. 67 students from Anstruther Primary School and Pittenweem Primary School raised and nurtured brown trout within their classroom environment, engaged in learning activities about the importance of looking after their local river and surrounding environment, and participated in an excursion to the Dreel Burn to release their fish into the river.

Anster Nicht Talk, J.A. Millar, Boatbuilder on the Dreel

Richard Wemyss presented an Anster Nicht talk for the AIA on boatbuilder, John Alexander Millar, who built at least sixty large fishing vessels in Cellardyke, before moving to Anstruther Esplanade on the Dreel Burn. Millar was highly regarded as an innovative boatbuilder and built vessels during the largest period of growth in the East Neuk fishing industry, the 1860s to 1903.

Community Tree Planting, Balcaskie Wetlands Project

AIA worked with partners Forth Rivers Trust, Footprint East Neuk and Balcaskie Estate to organise a community tree planting event at Balcormo Farm in February. The event was attended by over sixty volunteers of all ages who planted over 600 native trees. We also planted an oak tree, gifted by artist Colin Andrews, on the site as part of the participatory future forest project akin.

Gaelic Dreelside Woodland Walk

Fife Council Gaelic Development Worker, Kirsty Strachan, led a walk in Dreelside Woods exploring our Gaelic and Scots connections to the natural environment through language and folklore. The event provided new learning opportunities and vocabulary development for Gaelic learners and was delivered as part of Seachdain na Gàidhligh /World Gaelic Week in February 2024.

Community Litter Pick

In March our local volunteers organised a community litter pick for all ages in Dreelside Woods. The event was delivered in partnership with Footprint East Neuk, Anstruther and District Allotments Association and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust.

Duck Race Day Consultation

The Dreel Burn project is working with the diverse range of stakeholders who live or work in the catchment to develop consensus on how the Dreel Burn could be improved for the benefit of the community - i.e. a 'community vision'. Working with icecream architecture, the AIA engaged with members of the community attending the annual AIA Duck Race to gather their views about the Dreel Burn and what long-term improvements people would like to see. We engaged with 238 people, including 35 in- depth interviews and 21 online survey responses.

The consultation report is available here.

Coasts and Waters: Bowhouse Food Market

AIA were invited to share information at the Coasts and Water themed Bowhouse Food Market weekend in March in St Monans. Our volunteers shared information about the project and provided a popular, hands-on demonstration of invertebrate monitoring and identification for all ages. We also shared information about our Duck Race community consultation and online survey (see above).

Community Science

Water Quality Monitoring

Our dedicated group of volunteers sample and test the water at 9 monitoring locations along the length of the burn, and organise the data. The volunteers currently test and record levels of ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, Ph, conductivity and water temperature. We aim to collate and publish a report on the baseline data gathered since January 2023.

Riverfly Invertebrate Monitoring

In Summer 2023 the AIA organised an invertebrate monitoring training course for local volunteers, based on Riverfly Partnership’s national Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (RMI).

Riverflies are sensitive to pollution and changes on their river, therefore monitoring their presence, abundance and diversity on a regular basis enables us to identify an issue and respond quickly. Our volunteers commenced regular monthly monitoring of invertebrates at two locations along Dreel Burn in January 2024. We aim to collate a baseline survey over the next three years which will feed into the national Riverfly invertebrate monitoring programme.

Balcaskie Wetlands Project

Forth Rivers Trust is working in partnership with Anstruther Improvements Association, Balcaskie Estate and Balcarres Estate to deliver the project which includes wetland creation, tree planting, natural flood management measures and the removal of a ford.

The project began in February 2024 with a community tree planting event, followed by creation of 3.15ha wetland area, and installation of leaky dams, making it the first major landscape intervention on the Dreel Burn to address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Balcaskie Wetlands Project is funded by the Nature Restoration Fund and Fife Environment Trust. For further information on this project please visit Forth Rivers Trust website here.

Tackling Pollution
In April we worked with local community representatives, elected members, SEPA and Scottish Water to tackle a challenging pollution issue at the mouth of the Dreel Burn on Castle Street Beach. A broken outfall was polluting the surrounding beach area and flowing into the burn. This issue has now been resolved.

The Dreel Burn Project, launched in September 2022, has led to over £500,000 of
funding for the Dreel Burn catchment to date. It is a testament to what grassroots community development funding can create. The National Lottery Community Fund grant for our Anster Community Development Project enabled the AIA to get our community-led project up and running. Thank you to all the funders and our project partners who are working so hard.

The Dreel Burn Project has received funding from:

  • The National Lottery Community Fund
  • Climate Action Fife
  • FIRNS Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (Nature Scot and Heritage Lottery Fund)
  • The University of St Andrews Community Fund
  • Fife Council

Dreel Burn Website

We are delighted to share with you our newly developed website, www.dreelburn.earth, where you can find out all about the project and the many ways you can get involved!

To keep up to date with our project activities please subscribe to our email updates via our website www.dreelburn.earth, join our Dreel Burn Project Facebook Group, or email julia@anstrutherimprovements.org

Dreel Burn Project Image by Hilke Macintyre

Anstruther Improvements Association is a registered

SCIO under Scottish Charity Number SC016109

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