Chairman’s report 2011/12
The object for which the Trust is established is to advance the education of the public concerning the ecology of the natural environment including in particular without limiting the generality of the foregoing, birds; including sea and other birds whether migratory or otherwise; fish and other marine animal and plant life; and flora, fauna, insect and other wildlife in general. To promote the conservation and protection of the same and to study and communicate information relating to all or any of the above to the general public and to interested bodies, organisations and institutions.
In summary, the object of the Charity, when formed in 1997, was the advancement of education, promotion and conservation of the natural environment and this is still apposite.
Our aim over the past year has been to consolidate our operations as well as continuing to make improvement in all areas and, in particular, to win commitment from supporters to develop further our events, exhibition and education programmes.
If any financial surplus is achieved, it is reinvested in the work of the Charity. The Centre is dependent on revenue fundraising, particularly in the field of education.
Achievements and performance
The national economic climate resulted in a challenging year for trading. This was compounded by very poor weather in our peak summer months, which led to a decrease in footfall and visitor spending.
There was an increased demand for Bass Rock landing trips however poor sea conditions resulted in a large number of cancelled trips with a resultant decrease in income on the previous year.
The partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage continues to develop and the Seabird Seafari trips to the Isle of May National Nature Reserve grew in popularity.
Seabird Seafari is run in partnership with Seafari Adventures and the trading surplus is invested in the Viridor SOS Puffin project. The boats are also used to provide transport for our conservation volunteers and our maintenance staff to the islands. Boat trips are important in achieving our environmental education objectives and all trips have an experienced guide.
The Centre was recognised by Investors In People for its 10 years of continuous accreditation.
The Charity depends on support from Charitable Trusts, sponsors, partners and Gift Aid. Our full time Fundraising & Development Manager works closely with supporters to help achieve the Charity’s conservation and education objectives. In these difficult times, we are more than ever grateful for the generosity of organisations and individuals, whose support is crucial to achieving the charity’s education and conservation objectives and ensuring its sustainability.
The SOS Puffin project continued to prove successful thanks to the dedication and hard work of hundreds of volunteers who battled against the invasive tree mallow that decimated puffin and other seabird populations on the nearby islands of Craigleith and Fidra.
Our Education Officer continued to improve and develop our education programmes for schools. The number of school visits increased significantly and the Wildlife Club’s success continued to increase. Good partnership working with several universities was maintained.
Thanks to very generous funding support, we were able to install a major extension to our busy Kids’ Zone within the Discovery Centre. This has proved to be extremely popular with our younger visitors.
A wide variety of temporary exhibitions and events were again held in the Centre, including very successful science engagement sessions and temporary Science Communicators were appointed. The Centre’s annual Photography Competition continued to grow and develop.
The Centre continued its important environmental campaigning, working with other organisations to highlight key environmental issues including climate change, the need for effective marine conservation and the problems caused by marine litter.
Our newly appointed Marketing Manager ensured that the profile and image of the Centre continued to grow through excellent PR and promotional campaigns.
The Centre once again retained 5 stars for excellence from VisitScotland and the Green Tourism Gold Award.
The Centre’s Green Team further improved our environmental credentials, reducing our energy and water use as well as increasing recycling. We are grateful to the funding support which allowed us to undertake a major programme of environmental improvements throughout the Centre. This dramatically decreased our carbon footprint and our energy costs. The programme included new insulation, replacement low energy light fittings and the installation of solar heating panels.
The Centre continues to encourage visitors to use public transport to reach the Centre. A partnership discount scheme with ScotRail promotes train use. Charges for the Centre’s car park support the charity’s work and are also intended to encourage public transport use.
The success of the Centre in achieving its charitable objectives continues to grow. Using the Centre itself, our website, publications, education resources and public relations we are playing an increasing role in helping people understand and care for the natural environment. I am delighted that the Scottish Seabird Centre is significantly and increasingly benefiting our local community, wildlife, environment and our visitors.
Neil Rankin CB CBE, former Chairman, Scottish Seabird Centre