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Woodland buyout starts to grow roots

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By Fiona Reid
Moffat
Woodland buyout starts to grow roots

SUPPORT is being sought from people in the Beattock and Moffat areas for a community plan to buy Craigielands Wood.

The Craigielands Community Woodland group (CCW) was set up after Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) decided to dispose of the area to a formally-constituted local group, rather than putting it on the open market.

Five local residents got together to form a group and register an interest in such a purchase: craftsman Adam Murray, forestry lecturer Paul Fotheringham, forester Andrew McQueen, retired rural engineer Graham Ovens and land-based education expert Rachel Scott.

Their initial aims would be to open up the woodland to the community with a network of paths, seats and shelters and to promote it as a public amenity.

There would be enhanced woodland management and it would be run as a woodland nature reserve with wildlife conservation as a key objective through red squirrel protection work, bird and bat boxes, butterfly friendly glades and a wildlife orchard.

Educational projects could include school visits and walks, bird watching events, beehives and firewood courses.

And they would consider establishing the sustainable production of firewood, sawlogs, sawn timber and bark chips.

The group has applied for charitable status and joined the Community Woodlands Association, as well as formally registering their interest in a buyout of the site.

The next step will be the preparation of a feasibility study, which will need to be done by consultants.

A grant can be secured from the Scottish Land Fund to cover the costs of the work – and that’s where members of the public come in.

A Craigielands Community Woodland spokesperson said: “This application to the fund is more likely to be considered favourably if we can demonstrate a strong degree of community enthusiasm, and community support for the project.”

As such, they are setting up a community support survey, which will run from January 7-14 to gather local views.

A link will be posted on their Facebook page in due course and anyone interested in supporting the group is urged to like and follow it.

The CCW can also be contacted by email at [email protected].

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