The entire Aigas Forest in Inverness-shire will be brought into community ownership, thanks to additional money announced today (8 DEC) through the Scottish Land Fund.
The award of £519,000 to Aigas Community Forest takes the total Scottish Land Fund investment in this project up to £740,000 to purchase all 286 hectares of the community woodland. It follows an original award of £221,000 made back in January 2014 to purchase a smaller area of land of 49 hectares.
The First Minister recently announced the Scottish Land Fund will treble from £3 million this year to £10 million a year from 2016. This will make it easier for communities around Scotland who are interested in owning their land collectively to do so.
Aigas Forest is adjacent to Crask of Aigas, Beauly, Inverness-shire. The purchase, which will be made under the National Forest Land Scheme, will see the whole forest developed and managed to provide a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits to the local community. This will include new foot and cycle tracks, associated visitor infrastructure, recreational and educational activities and new business opportunities.
Andrew Leaver, Secretary of Aigas Community Forest, said: “This increase to our grant from the Scottish Land Fund will enable the community in Lower Stathglass to realise our ambition to buy the entire 700 acre Aigas woodland from Forestry Commission Scotland. Owning the whole forest will allow us to develop a thriving and vibrant asset supporting local businesses and providing recreation and conservation opportunities for local residents and visitors alike. Our thanks go to the Scottish Land Fund committee and all the other supporters who have contributed to this purchase.”
Environment and Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod, said: “I am delighted to see this further Scottish Land Fund award to Aigas Community Forest, which will allow ownership of the whole of the Aigas Forest, a long-held ambition of the community. Having clearly demonstrated how the acquisition of the whole forest will provide additional benefits to the community, I look forward to seeing the positive impact in terms of realising economic, environmental and social value as well as long-term sustainability. This project is an excellent example of how a community can transform ambition into reality. Through the Scottish Land Fund, the Scottish Government is looking forward to supporting other communities as we seek to secure more land into community ownership by 2020.”
Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, added: “This award will help Aigas Community Forest to realise its dreams of purchasing and owning all 286 hectares of community woodland. This will develop a stronger, resilient and more sustainable community with the ability to develop a wider range of income generating opportunities for the future.”