A Dumfriesshire community is poised to take control of its local woodland, thanks to a £171,622 Scottish Land Fund award announced today.
The award to Moffat Community Woodlands is one of the first to be made from the newly re-launched Scottish Land Fund, an initiative delivered in partnership by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BIG Lottery Fund Scotland.
Moffat Community Woodlands will use the funding to purchase 33.4 hectares of land on Gallow Hill, which overlooks the town of Moffat. The group intend to work with the Forestry Commission to replant the land with a broadleaf woodland and begin the process of returning the hill to the way it looked when Moffat was a renowned Victorian spa town.
As well as making more of the stunning views south over Annandale and north to the Devil's Beef Tub, the replanting will, in time, increase biodiversity and allow a broader range of wildlife to flourish, making the hill a more attractive place for locals and visitors to the town to enjoy.
Welcoming the award, Tom Mulholland, Chair of Moffat Community Woodlands, said: “This grant will enable us to improve recreational opportunities for the people of Moffat, and visitors to the town. Ownership of Gallow Hill gives the community the opportunity to enhance the natural environment of the hill for future generations, including the town’s recently awarded Dark Sky status.”
John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: “This Scottish Land Fund award will help to develop the environmental, heritage and recreational potential of a popular community woodland. The project is an excellent example of a community using the resources available through the Scottish Land to meet their needs. I wish Mofffat Community Woodlands every success as they go on to own and develop Gallow Hill for the benefit of the community and generations to come.”
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “It is great to see the first awards from the new Scottish Land Fund being allocated to communities across the country. The Scottish Land Fund is making a real difference to many local communities across Scotland helping community groups to purchase their own land. Moffat Community Woodland is to receive a grant to support their ambition to own and manage the land at Gallow Hill. The community are ambitious and engaged with their plans to improve their local environment and encourage economic development. The skills, resourcefulness and vision they have shown is reinforcing my belief that communities are best-placed to decide their futures.”
Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “I’m delighted that ownership of this important local resource will enable Moffat Community Woodlands to start to deliver some tangible benefits to their local community. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has over 50 years of experience in working with communities and we would encourage any groups looking to acquire land and buildings in their area to get in touch.”
The Scottish Land Fund was newly relaunched in March 2016 with the Scottish Government. As part of this relaunch, the programme was expanded to apply to both urban and rural projects.
A second Scottish Land Fund award is also announced today to Barmulloch Community Development Company, which receives £85,000 to purchase the Broomfield Road Centre in Barmulloch, Glasgow.