They say that money doesn’t grow on trees - but a tree-loving community forest in Argyll & Bute is hoping that it certainly grows on crowdfunding platforms.
Kilfinan Community Forest in Tighnabruaich is inviting members of the public to donate £20 each to ‘Sponsor a Sapling’ as part of a crowdfunding campaign launched today. Contributors will receive a certificate and will be able to name, and even visit, their tree.
The team hope to raise £5500, enough to plant 500 saplings in order to reforest an area of woodland destroyed by winter storms in 2013. Costs will go towards buying the saplings, as well as deer-fencing the area. Donations will also go towards a social media intern post who will help promote the campaign.
Rob Borruso, Director, said:
“With the pressures from deer and invasive species such as rhododendron and knotweed, a ‘natural’ forest will not regenerate if it is left alone. By giving the native trees a head start in our new nursery we should avoid the need for more aggressive interventions in the future such as deer culling or rhododendron burning, as the majority of the saplings will grow strong to take care of themselves when they are transplanted out into the forest.”
Tighnabruaich Primary School already use the area for outdoor learning, and the group hope that the reforestation of the damaged area will encourage the community to make more use of the forest for recreation.
The project creates a unique opportunity for the children. Fiona Hamilton, Head Teacher, Tighnabuaich Primary School, said:
“Having the pupils involved in establishing the tree nursery will give them a real sense of ownership and an opportunity to understand woodland management and the lifecycle of trees through first-hand experience.”
Nikki Brown, Development Manager for KCF, said:
"We're really excited to launch this project, as it enables people to be personally involved in the forest by fostering their own sapling, which will ultimately join many others to regenerate the native woodland. There's also a strong educational element to the tree planting and general care of saplings, and we're pleased to be working with the local school in tandem with their forest school learning.”
Crowdfunding is a rapidly-growing source of cash for small groups and companies, but is generally more commonly associated with films and gadgets than with trees. Now Highlands and Islands Enterprise is running a pilot project which provides selected community groups with access to digital expertise from Hot Tap Media to harness the power of the crowd to fund their community projects. The Sponsor a Sapling campaign is the first of these to be launched.
Claire Munro, Development Manager in HIE’s Strengthening Communities team, said:
“Whilst crowdfunding is now recognised as an effective route to raise finance for business and third sector projects, it has not yet been fully explored in the community asset sector in the Highlands and Islands. We are delighted to be working on this pilot project, which we hope will inspire other community groups and projects to use similar techniques to secure match funding or to fund individual projects entirely. It will also raise the profile of community asset ownership and community development more widely and inspire and encourage other organisations to adopt innovative fundraising campaigns.”
Members of the public who donate to the campaign can choose from a range of perks including a picnic and wild camping in the forest, cards featuring a hand-drawn picture of your tree by a child in the local primary, and places on a woodcraft course.
To find out more about Kilfinan Community Forest visit their website: http://www.kilfinancommunityforest.co.uk
To sponsor a sapling go to: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sponsor-a-sapling