Cowal community buys 600 hectare Stronafian Forest

In the biggest community forest land purchase Argyll has see since Mull Community Woodland Ltd bought 800 hectares in 2005,  the unified communities of Colintraive and Glendaruel in south west Cowal, known as ColGlen, have just completed the purchase of Stronafian Forest.

They have bought it from Forestry Commission Scotland under the imaginative National Forest Land Scheme.

The acquisition will provide the community with opportunities to create sustainable housing, woodland crofts, renewable energy sources and wonderful amenity spaces.

So much about this development – managed by the Colintraive and Glendaruel Developent Trust, under its Chair, Charles Dixon-Spain- is pace setting but its major achievement has been the unique private-public  sourcing of its funding for the project.

They paid £1.55 million for the land. Of this £1.3 million has come from a private sector tenant in exchange for the rights to the commercial forestry for 99 years.

Alongside this muscular partnership with a commercial interest, the trust has raised over £300,000 -  for the balance of the purchase price, the legal fees and to fund a two year Community Forest Project Officer, who has already been installed.

The trust believe this is the first purchase of its kind to combine private and public sectors in a community woodland acquisition.

The Trust has been working since early 2010 on the acquisition of the over 600 hectare woodland, developing a thorough-going business plan, as well as working on the funding package which includes the commercial tenancy.

That three years of unremitting hard work, innovation and attention to detail has now paid off, with the community looking to a sustainable future in its own control.

Trust Chair, Charles Dixon-Spain says: ‘We are thrilled with this acquisition – which is confirmation of the momentum our community has been building over the last five years.

‘Colintraive and Glendaruel is a community that has been in decline for many years and the Trust feels this purchase signals the renewing of our community, of bringing people in and services back and of ensuring the future of those services that we have held on to.

‘Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this stage.’

Second job now to be recruited

Following the completion of the purchase, the trust  are now recruiting for a dynamic Community Forest Development Officer.

The post offers an exciting blend of community engagement, project management and business development in a forest context.

The successful applicant will be tasked with taking forward:

  • a community wind turbine
  • developing 4-6 hectare woodland crofts
  • preparing building plots for self-build and affordable homes
  • as well as making the forest accessible to the local community and its visitors.

This is an opportunity to work with one of the West Coast’s demonstrably most innovative trusts, in an environment of outstanding natural beauty, with a community whose Hogmanays are reputed [with good reason] to be the best in Argyll.

To apply, visit the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust website here.

CGDT would like us to record their thanks to Forestry Commission Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and the Islands LEADER, the Scottish Land Fund, the Big Fund, Aitchesse Ltd – and to their tenant for all their help, financial support and encouragement over the last three years.

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5 Responses to Cowal community buys 600 hectare Stronafian Forest

    • Sorry too, Chris – and we’ will now amend the text to show that the Colintrative and Glendaruel acquisition is the second largest behind the Mull Community Woodland one.
      By the way, this was our mistake and had not been claimed by the Cowal project.

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