New scheme opens up woodlands to community ownership


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A new scheme launched today allows communities to buy publicly owned forests without waiting for them to be put up for sale.

The scheme is expected to further develop the community woodland movement in Scotland. Less than 20 years ago there were no formal community woodland groups, but now there are over 200, covering thousands of acres.

A portion of the 1.6 million acres managed by the Forestry Commission will be sold to develop affordable housing, while community groups will have the chance to take over surplus land for recreation, tourism and forestry-related jobs.

A majority of local directors must be elected before the sale commences. For land worth £50,000 or more, community support must be demonstrated through a ballot and the land valued before a formal application is made.

The desire of communities to take more control of the land has seen a growing trend of local groups managing or owning woodlands. Wooplaw Community Woodland, near Lauder, is the oldest community woodland in Scotland, having been bought in 1987. Projects now stretch from Wigtown to Sutherland and the Western Isles to Aberdeenshire.

The new scheme allows communities to turn land to their benefit and make the most of their local surroundings.

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