Aigas Forest

Aigas forest2Seven years or so ago Forestry Commission Scotland decided that Aigas Forest no longer fitted with their scheme so decided to dispose of it. As the rules of the game required, it was offered in the first instance to the Community. At a well supported meeting the decision to try and buy the forest was taken. The Aigas Community Forest was born. To say that it has been a rocky and uphill struggle is an understatement. The public funding from the Community Land Fund had dried up, the Big Lottery was hi-jacked for the Olympics and the bankers crash restricted funding from big business. A raft of reports, meetings and consultants later we finally came to a compromise. Part purchase, part lease. Regrettably the sums didn’t add up. But by now The Community Land Fund had been reborn but interpretation of EU restrictions on competition rules and buyouts of public sector land had raised issues with more twists and turns than Hampton Court Maze. The steering group eventually secured an agreement for a full purchase and funding had been secured from the Community Land Fund, the SSE Regional Community Fund, The Aigas Charitable Trust, the Highland Council Ward Discretionary Fund and from voluntary Donations. The Community Company now own the Forest and over the last five years have produced a Long Term Forest Plan, started Wood Fuel production with the purchase of a Pallax 70 Processor, acquired a forestry tractor, trailer, cabin and have initialised a training program for volunteers in the necessary skills. First tranches of commercial felling took place with a limited clear fell and then a continuous cover operation that has provided an established forest with excellent bio-diversity options. A new Logosol Chainsaw mill was bought and volunteers started to construct a workshop and tractor shed all constructed from Aigas trees felled and milled by members of the local community. This formed part of the transitionĀ  moving towards active management of the Forest as a Community resource. For more details and an up to date report on the Aigas Community Forest CLICK HERE

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Volunteers hard at work – “at the BBQ”

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