Communities empowered through woodland ownership

Three community groups have been given the go-ahead to purchase woodland on the National Forest Estate in order to provide benefits for local people.

The transfer of ownership is being organised under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS), which gives communities the opportunity to buy or lease land on the National Forest Estate.

The successful community groups are:

• Dronley Community Woodland: 50 ha in Dronley Wood at Auchterhouse, Angus;
• Peebles Community Trust: 6.9 ha at Eshiels Wood along the River Tweed; and
• Friends of Leadburn Community Woodland: 9.4ha at Leadburn Wood near Penicuik.

Making the announcement today, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to seeing the ownership of land increasingly devolved to communities.

“Community ownership of woodlands can unlock many advantages and build stronger more resilient communities. It can also assist in local aspirations to develop new initiatives, be a base for activities and services or provide training and employment opportunities.

“I am very pleased that the National Forest Estate is continuing to support local communities through the CATS programme and wish each of the groups every success for the future.”

Dronley Community Woodland’s Chair, Mrs Shiona Baird added:

“The Board of Trustees of Dronley Community Woodland is delighted that Forest Enterprise Scotland has agreed to sell the wood to the community of Auchterhouse under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme.  Dronley Wood is well used by many people within and beyond Auchterhouse. We now have an amazing opportunity to manage and enhance the wood providing health, education and well being opportunities for many more to benefit from this much loved wood.”

Peebles Community Trust chairman, Lawrie Hayworth, said:

“The Trust is delighted to secure the long-term future management and access to the woodland for the local community.  The Trust wishes to extend its gratitude to the dedicated group of enthusiasts who have developed this project and to Forestry Enterprise Scotland who has cooperated so readily.

"Our objective is to deliver sustainable wood production while protecting and enhancing wildlife of international importance. The woodland is home to the rare currant shoot-borer moth (Lampronia capitella) which occurs nowhere else in Scotland.”

David Sales, chairman of Friends of Leadburn Community Woodland, commented:

"Friends of Leadburn Community Woodland bought land from the Forest Enterprise Scotland in 2007. Our new wood has become a popular place to walk and has wildlife interest. We are delighted that our request to extend the site has been accepted."

Communities across Scotland are showing interest in the CATS scheme with two requests approved, one currently being assessed and 25 being worked on by other community groups.

Now that the three groups have had their applications to buy approved, they have six months to work up their funding proposals to purchase the woodlands.

More information on CATS https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/managing/get-involved/community-asset-transfer-scheme .

Notes to news editors

1. Dronley Wood: Dronley is primarily a Scots Pine woodland with a car park at the entrance and is around a mile from Kirkton of Auchterhouse. The wood is regularly used by the community for walks. The Dronley Community Woodland wish to purchase the woodland to maintain its rich and diverse environment and develop it as an educational, recreational and timber resource. The group also plan to use the woodland to help build community capacity (https://dronleywood.org/).

2. Eshiels Wood: Peebles Community Trust’s proposal is to manage this 6.9 ha strip of woodland to improve biodiversity, resurrect coppice management skills and use the woodland to build learning in nature. The woodland is home to the rare currant shoot-borer moth (Lampronia capitella) which is found nowhere else in Scotland.  The only other known site for the moth in Scotland was lost in 1988.  Surveys undertaken in May 2018 suggest that the moth population at Eshiels is larger than previously thought, occurring in at least a dozen locations throughout the woodland. The Trust intends to protect the foodplant of the moth (old blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes), and propagate further bushes to secure its long-term future.

3. Leadburn Wood: Friends of Leadburn Community Woodland bought 44 hectares of mainly clear felled land from the Forestry Commission in 2007. The charity has planted over 6000 native trees and shrubs and created ponds in order to create a pleasant place to walk that is also good for wildlife. The new wood is open to the public. The community made request to purchase the additional 9 ha, which became available through Forest Enterprise Scotland in 2017. The new block will be used to increase the variety of walks available to visitors. Link for background information: http://onlineborders.org.uk/community/leadburnwood.

4. Media enquiries on the CATS programme to Steve Williams, Forest Enterprise Scotland media office 0300 067 6508.