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Inverness
Saturday, July 20, 2024

Communities Invited to Shape Their Own Futures

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Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon, today (Fri 13 Oct) welcomed the launch of Forestry and Land Scotland’s new Communities Strategy ahead of Community Land Week.

The Strategy will help to further empower communities and, by enabling them to have a greater role in creating their own future, will help to make best use of Scotland’s national forest and land.

It builds on FLS’ established principles of community engagement, whether that is seeking input into the development of its land management plans, staging events or facilitating community volunteering, to developing community renewables schemes or leasing or selling land through its Community Asset Transfer Scheme, recognised as an exemplar for asset transfer.

Ms Gougeon said:   

“As Scotland’s largest land manager, communities are at the heart of what FLS does.

“This unique position makes them a key player in the ongoing development of land reform and community empowerment.  

“This new Strategy draws on this experience and incredible track record and makes it easier for communities to open up new opportunities and have a hand in creating their own exciting futures.  

“FLS has to date completed 22 asset transfers of land and facilitate over 90 community projects across the country, and with over 700 community and third sector organisations having an interest in the national forests, there is considerable scope for more.     

“It’s an open invitation to come up with some ideas to make better use of Scotland’s national forests and land for the benefit of local communities and to work with FLS to realise those aims and ambitions.”  

Community Asset Transfers have been integral to the creation of businesses, tourism and recreation opportunities and to establishing affordable housing, woodland crofts and community hydro renewable energy schemes.   

However, FLS’ work with communities also includes inviting public feedback on forest management plans, volunteering, developing community-led initiatives for local place plans, and working at the landscape scale through collaborations such as Cairngorms Connect or the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforests.    

It can also include a wide range of activities such as delivering high profile community events, such as the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry, volunteering opportunities with Community Woodland groups or working with mountain bike Trail Associations.  

FLS’ Community Empowerment Annual Report details asset transfers received and processed in the year to 31 March 2023 and highlights FLS’ support for the wider range of community activities on the national forests and land over the previous year.   

Anyone looking to explore about the possibilities and opportunities available should look at the Communities Strategy to find out more.  

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