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Kilfinan Community Forest Awarded Top Community Woodlands prize in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2016

Tighnabruaich, 28th June 2016: Kilfinan Community Forest Company [KCFC] is delighted to announce it has been awarded 2016 winner of the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards ‘Community Woodlands’ competition for Promoting Viable Livelihoods. This award recognises projects that focus on involving communities in using woodlands to deliver economic benefits and thereby enhancing people’s livelihoods. KCFC was also crowned overall Community Woodland Awards category winner and presented the prestigious Tim Stead Trophy.

Steve Williamson [Chair], Robert Borruso [Operations Manager], and Nikki Brown [Development Manager], accepted the Tim Stead trophy and an engraved cherry wood plaque at the annual prize-giving event, which took place at the Royal Highland Show on Friday 24th June.  KCFC’s entry endorsed a number of achievements over the past year, including installing a hydro-electric scheme, acquiring an additional 434ha woodland to enable large-scale timber harvesting, and enhancing the volunteer programme. KCFC’s sawmill and wood fuel provision are now valued services, with a local delivery option and well-seasoned timber resulting in a good level of customer retention. The forest path network enables local people and tourists alike to access the forest and benefit from safe off-road walking.

The charity now supports eight staff, including a newly appointed Community Engagement Officer and two Sustainable Construction Apprentices, who are working to establish a new training centre in the forest, using energy saving, low carbon building techniques. KCFC also recently employed a new Forest Access Coordinator, Michael Eyre, to develop the volunteer programme, build local skills and training opportunities, and improve the forest amenity for visitors.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, says: ‘The Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards recognises, celebrates and commends the dedication and commitment to the creation and management of Scotland’s finest woods. The judges were very impressed by the scope and scale of activities now taking place within Kilfinan Community Forest, delivering not only a range of economic benefits for the local community but also a continuous strand of educational and health improvement activities.

‘We were impressed by the business-like approach being taken by the Board to create various strands of self-generated funding that will enable the organisation to sustain its activities for the long term without reliance always on grant funding. We were also impressed by the development of employment, apprenticeship, training and work experience opportunities for local young people and the work currently taking place to establish these as permanent programmes.’

Steve Williamson, Chairman of the KCFC board, says: ‘We were delighted to stand alongside our industry peers in accepting this award at the Royal Highland Show. KCFC has come a long way in the 10+ years since its inception; we now have a talented team of staff at the helm supported by a strong Board of Directors, along with an ever increasing network of members, volunteers and supporters. We are edging ever closer to full financial sustainability as we work towards large-scale timber harvesting, and are now operating within a stable business environment via sawmill and wood fuel sales, and the generation of hydro-electricity.

‘We have exciting plans for the future, including affordable housing, a forest event space, and woodland burials; through these initiatives we hope to continue making our mark as one of Scotland’s finest woods. We would like to thank our funders and members for their continued support, and to the SFWA 2016 judges for awarding us this prestigious award.’

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