In June we joined a lively WWF-backed study tour of Uganda to learn about the evolving role of plantation forests in supporting local and national economies to fulfil sustainable development goals, while creating a buffer for more vulnerable indigenous forests. 

While documenting the tour we produced A Journey Without a Map, a short film exploring the interplay between small outgrower foresters, communities, multinationals and NGOs as they embrace a tradition that may hold the key to preventing total forest loss.

WWF---James Thomson/Thomas Hogben-1

With half the population under 20 years old, Uganda has an insatiable pride and optimism about where it’s heading as a country. As its population reaches tipping point - how it’s citizens and leaders will funnel that energy and hope is something we wanted to learn more about.

The film has already screened to policy makers at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi during the Global Landscapes Forum in August. After some brilliant exposure on the UNEP Twitter feed, please keep an eye on the WWF IGTV channel for the digital launch of our film in December, along with social media friendly edits hitting your Instagram feeds soon.

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There’s a lot we couldn’t squeeze into our edit - including our encounter with a humble Pastor and nursery owner who gives tree saplings away to his 400-strong communion each week... However we're confident that we’ll be back to do these inspiring examples of humanity and innovation justice, as Uganda attempts to lead itself away from the total loss of forest projected for 2050. 

 

Earlier this year we tied up a 6-month European Social Fund project with PAS and artist Ishbel McFarlane, working with communities around Cowdenbeath. Since then we've been knee deep in pre-production preparing to shoot a short documentary for WWF in Uganda.

We hope to make the most of our 10 days in East Africa this June learning about the role that plantation forestry and communities can play in supporting sustainable development and wildlife conservation across the country.

Mountain Gorilla (WWF)

The work of NGOs, governments and communities is paying off. Surveys revealed this week show that the endangered Mountain Gorilla in Uganda is on the rise, the only great ape in the world believed to be increasing in numbers.

Back in temperate Scotland we’re applying the finishing touches to several short films for Historic Environment Scotland that run through the basics of employing photography, oral history, and surveying in heritage projects.

SUP survey film

The idea is to encourage people to have a go themselves at recording their urban environments. Supporting the project our in-house Motion Graphics artist, Christine, created some brilliant informational call-outs (above). They’ll be hitting the new Scotland’s Urban Past website when it launches.

Here at the Evergreen Studio we’re enjoying that warm fuzzy feeling of hibernation that only an Edinburgh winter can bring. Where storm force gales are offset by majestic pink and orange skies that last forever. 

Now brimming with people, our co-working space off the Royal Mile is gearing up to celebrate its first birthday. Here at Melt we’ll also be crossing off a milestone as we enter our fifth year of trading in 2018.

Lightbox - Tessa Ransford

Pictured above is a photo of our latest addition to the space, one of several lightboxes created for the Canongate Stars and Stories project.

It features poetry from Tessa Ransford (1938 – 2015), who founded the Scottish Poetry Library here in 1984 in the former packing room of Oliver & Boyd publishers. Tessa’s poem reads “Apollo winters here/strings his lyre like stars/through clouds”.

You can keep up to date with developments around Tessa Ransford’s work though the Occasional Poetry page we helped set up last year. 

Coalfields Regeneration Trust Scotland has been actively working in several of Fife’s coalmining villages and towns for a number of years, leading projects and events that give people a greater say in how their place evolves.

We were commissioned by CRT to document one of their lively 4-day charrettes held in the excellent town of Kincardine, Fife. Famous for it’s bridge, it is also the birthplace of Thermos vacuum flask inventor, James Dewar.

James and Pete - Kincardine

Tucked away in the corner of Fife but with great transport links, Kincardine has a strong identity, social connectedness and civic pride. Perched on the Firth of Forth, it's charm is visible from the sky - a vantage point that will hopefully assist residents, architects and planners to take stock of the town as it grows.

The waterfront by the bridge became the focus of Place Standard surveys and dialogue led by Oliver Chapman Architects. Currently hemmed in by the railway track fence, many folk in the community want to open up the waterfront, creating places for local people and tourists alike to get out and experience it. 

Kincardine Aerial - looking south

Oliver’s team also explored different ways to better connect and signpost local assets, including Devilla Forest, RSPB Skinflats reserve, and Longannet, Scotland’s last remaining coal-fired power station which is due to be demolished next year. We''ll be watching with interest to see how Kincardine evolves from here. 

Thank you to the community for welcoming us in, and to our drone pilot, Pete Maughan, for flying us around Kincardine safely on such a nice day.

We’ve just wrapped a busy week of filming for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), taking us from the impressive Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation up to Edinburgh Castle, through to the several stunning Forestry Commission Scotland sites in Perthshire. 

The week long study tour was organised by the New Generation Plantations platform (NGP). Led by WWF the NGP team are celebrating a decade of driving fairer, more sustainable forestry operations throughout the world.

NGP 2017 delegation from China

It was an international affair with attendance from every corner of the world - Brazil, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda, Laos, Russia, Australia. Probably the largest and most animated delegation came from China, who are set to become the major player in the sector. 

Our primary role in the process was to observe and capture dialogue during and between workshops that make these encounters so valuable. We were supported in that process by sound designer Dee O'Leary, camera operator Thomas Hogben, and experienced drone pilot Pete Maughan. 

Drone at Craigvinean forest 2017

Conversations circled on the importance of productive woodland for carbon sequestration, developing a risk-based approach to landscape management, forest fires, and the potential of large-scale precision forestry. Many of the sessions were 'open agenda' and led by attendees, which was refreshing to see. 

You can see the films over on the Melt Vimeo channel

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