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ALISTAIR HEATHER: I’m all for Dundee’s ‘Wee Forests’ but let’s try a bit harder with the green space we’ve got

A burnt-out car on the edge of Dundee. Surely the city deserves better than this?
A burnt-out car on the edge of Dundee. Surely the city deserves better than this?

I loved reading about Stobbie’s new Wee Forest.

A small area of land will be reforested in the Stobswell area of Dundee, allowing space where plants and trees and animals can flourish.

These Wee Forests are being created across the city by a team at the Botanic Gardens, so people will never be more than a three-minute walk from a nature spot.

I have suggestions for a bunch of new places.

I also have some ground rules that we should probably all agree to before we set these little woodlands up, cause at the minute we’re acting like we dinnae really deserve them.

Storm Arwen ripped doon a fair few fences in Dundee.

And all around my bit, secret little brownfield enclaves were exposed.

On the hilltoon, a building with sturdy steel struts to stall its subsidence overlooks one such exposed patch.

The cheap wooden fence that had hidden it for a while buckled in the blasting winds, and this dead area was revealed behind.

It’s currently home to a mingin mattress and some broken traffic cones, and queuing traffic gets an eyeful of this enclave of ugly as they wait at the lights.

The derelict site at the Hilltown. A perfect spot for one of Dundee’s new Wee Forests.

Imagine a lovely wee wooded area here.

A micro forest, wi a couple trees, some undergrowth… Birds in a branch, bees at a blossom.

As we pech our way up the brae fae the toon, what a braw place to stop and catch wir breath this would be.

Green space from a dark place?

Along fae my flat is a semi-derelict plot of land, exposed when the fence was dinged doon by Arwen’s gusts.

It’s a thin strip between plots, about three metres wide and six long.

This channel is truly ripe for a micro forest.

There’s our backies on one side, a wall on the other and beyond that some dilapidated sheds where occasionally sex workers and their clients meet in the shadows.

Surely the families that play in the backies and those who work in the darker neuks back there would benefit from the healthful air of a wee forest?

Some green foliage to combat the endless grinding black diesel hum of the Cleppy Road would be a blow on behalf of nature, at least.

These spaces can be beautiful.

And they are essential too.

Off Clepington Road: the beginnings of a future forest?

The already congested Strathmartine Road is getting a skelp of new social houses that dinnae seem to have a scrap of garden space between them.

More of these micro forests will be vital if the future inhabitants are to have any nature within walking distance at all.

Here’s where we can all play a part

My demand for more green space, even totty wee ones, doesnae come without conditions.

We have a responsibility ourselves here.

We can’t sit around and point fingers, demanding that others come in and improve our environment.

This is our community. Let’s make it nicer ourselves too.

Scaffolding outside the new social housing on Strathmartine Road.

Dealing with dog mess would be a good start.

When pals come to visit me in Coldside, they often remark upon the prodigious quantity of keich on the streets.

Let’s do better on that ane eh.

Torched cars and trashed landscapes

Burnt out cars is another sore point.

I walk regularly at night round the outskirts of the city, where Dundee meets Angus.

This takes me often through the various golf courses and scraggy woods that abutt the Dichty Watter.

The other night, I was on the phone to my partner as I sauntered along a dark fairway.

Suddenly, the black dark night ahead of me erupted in flames.

Torched car found on Dundee’s Caird Park golf course sparks fury

A real fleg of high tangerine flame scorched the air.

By its light I saw a cabal of silhouettes moving about it.

Being a jessie, I quickly exited the scene.

On returning back the next day, I found a Ford Mondeo ditched in Gelly Burn, well and truly gutted.

This is the third I’ve come across in my year and a bit here.

The most supremely melted example was an unidentifiable car dumped on a forest path just off Mains Loan.

Doubtless plenty more have been scattered across the city.

Alistair inspects the torched remains of another burnt-out car.

They strike me almost like found art, or a contemporary exhibit by some challenging artist who wants to make an on-the-nose point about our relationship with nature.

The patterns on the bonnet of the Mondeo were genuinely captivating.

But, fundamentally, I disapprove.

We can all do much better for our green space

When I was wee some Dundonians came out to Newbigging and nicked our crap old Cavalier and flamed it in a field.

It was unnerving for us, as well as for our neighbours, and left us stranded in the village for ages until we could get another vehicle.

Our natural world deserves better too.

Leaving litter to skitter into the wind is bad enough, but dumping a car in a water course? That’s a level beyond.

Think of wee Nemo and his pals, swimming aboot in the poison runoff fae the blazed sump.

So aye. Its a big Yes to the Wee Forests.

They sound class.

But let’s mind and improve our respect for the living green world if we want to prove we deserve a greater proportion of it.

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