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Edinburgh Shoreline – a coastal success

The shoreline around Edinburgh has held a fascination for years. It’s supported nature, housed industry, provided fishing opportunities and, alas, even been a dumping zone. Today the natural value of Edinburgh’s shoreline is widely recognised and an amazing community driven project is righting the wrongs of recent times.

Given that the shoreline around Edinburgh is 27km long it is little surprise that it includes variety.  Coastal neighbourhoods come in all shapes and sizes, their history reflecting change.

Fishing ports are no longer as busy as they once were, coastal recreation and seaside tourism by contrast are now big business.  But regardless of previous roles, or future aspirations, one thing unites the communities along the Edinburgh shoreline ...   be they at South Queensferry, Granton, Newhaven, Leith, or Joppa … they are embracing what is a rare opportunity to breathe new life back into well used locations.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and dynamic local communities are the driving forces behind the Edinburgh Shoreline project. The former offers sound scientific support and tremendous proven expertise in making projects a success, but they are delighted to be ably backed by local expertise.

That local involvement is a crucial element.  Driven by neighbourhood pride these communities appreciate their local history and biodiversity. They know too that the plants and animals that have long made their home here need help to overcome the challenges that the challenges that lost industries, large-scale development and neglect can bring’ to reflect the fact that there are multiple pressures.

Sadly, industry rarely comes without some impact on nature and is testimony to nature’s resilience that it has clung on tenaciously in the margins.

Hopefully the Edinburgh Shoreline project signals a brighter future with less of a struggle for the rich plant and animal life to survive here. What’s more this work will be of a huge benefit to people. In helping nature one hope is that the work will  inspire people to appreciate and enjoy their coast whilst taking responsibility for its future health.

The project launched in March 2018, and has worked hard to reconnect Edinburgh citizens with their intricate coastline. Nature has been given a helping hand with improved habitats and targeted planting to speed along regeneration. Derelict land being made green again, rockpools showing greater diversity, and seabirds and wintering waders back in good numbers are likely outcomes.

Speaking of numbers it would remiss not to mention that over 40,000 visitors rolled up to see an exhibition about the project at the Botanics base in Edinburgh. It is also cause for celebration that over 1,500 people took part in activities ranging from data collection, collating local history, through to tackling the growing concern of sea-borne plastics on the shoreline. Seaweed bioblitzes, rockpooling, community gardening and bumblebee ID, to name a few, have been enjoyed by all ages!

Not everything associated with Edinburgh Shoreline is conventional. Take the ‘Knit the Shoreline’ project which drew together knitters, felters and crocheters based along the Edinburgh shoreline to create a spectacular, woolly miniature model of the Edinburgh coast – complete with a knitted Forth Bridge!

It’s this versatility and willingness to embrace the fun and the serious with different approaches that has made this such as good project.

Man has long been fascinated by the coast.  Working to make it a cleaner and greener space for people and wildlife to enjoy is a wonderful development. Good news for biodiversity, good news for the people who live and work here. In short – a coastal success.


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Did you know?  The Edinburgh Shoreline project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund. It is part of the wider Edinburgh Living Landscape initiative and is delivered by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.