First community group to successfully expand woodland ownership through the National Forest Land Scheme
Kilfinan Community Forest Company (KCFC) is delighted to announce it has been awarded £750K from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) to buy Upper Acharossan forest from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).
Upper Acharossan is a 434ha mixed conifer woodland sited adjacent to Kilfinan Community Forest (KCF), which the community also acquired from FCS in 2010. This will bring the total community ownership to 561ha, and increase KCFC’s capacity to deliver a range of economic, social and environmental benefits to the community of Kilfinan, including local employment, recreational facilities, training and skills development, and affordable housing.
KCFC will use the knowledge and experience gained through managing the current 127ha woodland since 2010, to deliver a range of environmental improvements, including rhododendron control, deer management, and the enhancement of natural habitats.
The expanded community woodland will offer financial security to KCFC - a registered charity established in 2007 - via an extensive harvesting programme, enabling timber to be sold commercially, as well as continuing to supply the community sawmill and wood fuel enterprise. Timber income will enable KCFC to take on more staff to help manage the expanded enterprise, and provide job security to staff presently employed by the charity. This will build KCFC’s capacity to deliver a number of development projects, all focused on bringing tourism to the area by improving access into the forest and introducing new recreational facilities. Planned projects include circular forest walks, bike tracks and camping areas, as well as the construction of a bunkhouse as low cost accommodation for visitors to the area.
KCFC also intends to build a training centre in the forest, to host courses in land-based skills and other diverse disciplines, with the aim of encouraging local skills development and strengthening partnerships with other local businesses and groups. Volunteers will have the opportunity to get involved in certain projects and general forest operations, to help shape the development of the forest.
Nikki Brown, KCFC’s development manager, said: “This is a real turning point for KCFC. Our primary aim is to be a sustainable business which can support its own staff and core operations via income generated by the charity; having control of this much larger area will really strengthen our ability to do this. When the charity was first set up, our key objective was to bring the whole of Acharossan forest into community ownership, but for various reasons we were only able to acquire the smaller area. It’s a great result that five years down the line, the entire woodland will finally be under community ownership and management, and we look to the future with great confidence that we can continue the momentum and truly deliver everything we’ve set out to do.
"It has been a collective, concerted effort to deliver all the necessary requirements and development work to secure SLF funding and NFLS approval within a very short space of time, and we would like to thank to Highlands and Islands Enterprise for their support through the acquisition process. Exciting times ahead!”
Kerrien Grant, Head of Strengthening Communities, Argyll and the Islands: “HIE is delighted with the news that KCFC has secured this investment to expand their flourishing social enterprise. HIE has supported KCFC for a number of years to grow and develop new revenue streams to ensure future sustainability. KCFC is an excellent illustration of how a dedicated and enthusiastic team owning and managing a community asset acts as a key driver for growth and resilience, particularly in our region’s more remote areas.”
Malcom Wield, Forestry Commission Scotland’s NFLS programme Manager, said: “This is another great success for the National Forest Land Scheme. The Kilfinan Community is the 25th to have successfully completed a purchase under the scheme and we wish them every success in achieving their aspirations.”