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Friday, December 2, 2022

FLS Continues to Lead The Way in Community Empowerment

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Almost 150 community groups across Scotland are taking the opportunity to benefit their communities thanks to Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) leading role in community empowerment.

In its fifth annual report outlining its work, FLS highlights the existing 94 partnerships, agreements or leases with communities, as well as 19 successful asset transfers under its Community Asset Transfer Scheme since its inception in 2017.

The report also notes around 25 more CATS projects are in development and over 30 more communities are actively looking at options to develop projects on the national forests and land.

Welcoming the report, Environment Minister, Mairi McAllan said;

“Access to land is key to a wide range of community initiatives and projects that boost future prospects for growth and prosperity.

“FLS is doing some excellent work to facilitate recreational, environmental or economic activities on the land that it manages.  

“This is a forward looking, empowering approach to land management and I look forward to many more communities exploring their options and seizing their opportunities.”

In order to take this important work forward FLS recently opened (31 May 2022) a consultation on a draft Communities Strategy for Scotland’s National Forests and Land, contacting over 500 community groups and other stakeholders to encourage their participation.

Consultation responses will help finalise the Strategy and set the principles and strategic priorities for how FLS will work with communities to make best use of Scotland’s national forest and land.

In the fifth annual report period (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) FLS has validated four requests for ownership of sites, issued decision notices to approve five requests and completed four transfers of ownership and one lease transfer

Since 2017 FLS has completed two renewable energy generation leases with local communities and has completed a total of 15 asset transfer sales.

A further six sites are under offer and over 30 more projects are in development, many supported by the Scottish Land Fund’s Stage 1 funding.

Examples of community projects from around the country include:

  • Central Scotland – the West Fife Woodlands Group, whose aim is to conserve and improve accessibility to their local woodland for example creating the West Fife Woodlands Way which runs through Balgownie and Devilla Forests.
  • Perthshire – the Kinnoull Hill Woodland PArk Users’ Group – which represents woodland users from horse riders to orienteering groups, to walkers, cyclists, photographers and nature lovers – carries out community activities such as core path planning and practical volunteer tasks such as scrub clearance, tree planting and red squirrel conservation
  • Wick – the Friends of Newtonhill Woodland have, amongst other things, improved recreational access by developing a new path network and refurbished an old croft for use as a base for a volunteer program which takes place in the surrounding Newtonhill Woodland.
  • Banchory – the Banchory Paths group of volunteers maintain and improve paths in the town and surrounding woodlands, for example raising funding to upgrade the paths in Corsee Wood to improve access for all.
  • Kilsture Forest near Sorbie – the Kilsture Forest Community Group volunteers organise community walks and talks, wildlife conservation and work with FLS to improve the paths.
  • Morvern – the Barr River hydro scheme, developed by the Morvern Community Development Company, provides renewable energy and a source of income for the community to help deliver community objectives for affordable housing, employment and improving infrastructure.

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