Carron Valley groups get go ahead for community woodland transfer

FOREST Enterprise Scotland has approved plans to transfer land to create a new community woodland in the Carron Valley.

The move will be made under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS)

The plans, proposed by community body Valley Renewables Group (VRG) and supported by the Community Council and local residents, will develop a woodland area for local events and provide walking and adventure trails.   

In addition, the woodland will provide timber for home heating for 20 homes, helping to reduce fuel poverty.

Under the CATS programme, communities are given the opportunity to purchase, lease or use the National Forest Estate if it provides benefits for local people.

Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing  said: “The Scottish Government is committed to seeing ownership of land increasingly devolved to communities.

“I’m delighted that Scotland’s National Forest Estate is continuing the support the local community through the transfer of this land at Carron Valley.

“At present the community have few shared facilities so this new community woodland will strengthen their bond and cohesion.”

The Valley Renewables Group was set up initially as a development trust to administer community funds from the Craigengelt Wind Farm and is now managing benefits from other windfarms in the area.

The Group intends to invest income from the wind farm into to the new community woodland which will promote health and well-being through a range of activities.

Margaret Porter, chair of the Valley Renewables Group added: “This is an important and exciting milestone for our small, dispersed community, and will be our first community owned asset.

“Currently, we have no social facilities and this will give us a permanent base for community activities and events.

“We’ll be working to provide improved access to the forest, sustainable community wood fuel, up-skilling and educational opportunities, and an increased range of habitats for local people and visitors to enjoy.

“This represents a huge opportunity for our community to focus on a long-term project, to create jobs and to move forward together.”

A part-time woodland manager will be employed for the first two to three years in order to get the woodland properly established.

A further five applications for asset transfer are expected by next month while it is understood Forest Enterprise Scotland is working with a pipeline of over 15 other community asset transfer proposals.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Asset Transfer Under The Community Empowerment Act.

IMAGE CREDITS: Forest Enterprise Scotland

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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