His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay officially opened the new offices of environmental charity, Tweed Forum near Melrose in the Scottish Borders on Friday 1 November.
During his visit, His Royal Highness spoke with Tweed Forum staff and trustees including Luke Comins (Director) who gave an overview of the Forum’s work protecting and conserving the natural, built and cultural heritage of the river and its surroundings. The Tweed is one of the UK’s most productive salmon rivers and a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation under European legislation.
Senior Land and Water Management Project Manager, Derek Robeson will use geographic models to explain the organisation’s award-winning catchment-management work, while Tweed Forum Trustee, Professor Chris Spray spoke about land use. His Royal Highness also met 2017 Tweed Forum River Champion, Jim Sinclair who farms near Galashiels and won the annual prize for his efforts to integrate farming, forestry and conservation.
His Royal Highness then toured Old Melrose Steading, where Tweed Forum’s new office is located, and was greeted by local people including the 2019 Tweed Forum River Champion, plastics campaigner Tom Rawson as well as some of the Melrose Scouts who recently assisted with a litter pick along the river.
Before departing, His Royal Highness performed the official Tweed Forum office opening by unveiling an engraved slate plaque.
Luke Comins, Director, Tweed Forum, said; “We’re extremely grateful to His Royal Highness for taking the time to come and hear about our work and to officially open our new offices. He is clearly supportive of everything we do and shares our passion for rivers and their importance within the landscape, to local people and the economy.’
The work of Tweed Forum’s partnership with farmers, foresters, landowners, ghillies and public and private sector bodies on both sides of the Border has delivered significant benefits in river restoration, habitat management, improved water quality, the protection and enhancement of fish stocks, flood management and tourism and recreational opportunities.
This has been achieved through initiatives such as tree planting and woodland management, pond and wetland creation, the capture and storage of greenhouse gasses through peatland restoration and management, tackling invasive plant species, creating and upgrading cycleways and trails and restoring listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. Tweed Forum also runs educational initiatives including school visits, field trips and talks, and works with statutory agencies and policy makers to improve legislation and shape policies to help manage land and water assets across the whole country. The organisation’s work led to UNESCO recognition in 2009, the receipt of the first UK Rivers Prize in 2015 and a shortlisting for the prestigious Thiess International River Prize in 2017.
Tweed Forum ‘s new office suite at Old Melrose Dairy is former farm steading on the Old Melrose Estate owned by William Younger. The energy-efficient building has solar panels to power the underfloor heating system, and a Tesla battery to store excess energy. An air-source heat pump also helps to heat the building’s hot water supply.
Tweed Forum currently employs nine staff and the new offices allow for potential expansion as well as providing space to host Forum membership meetings and educational activities including talks and training events.