Community trust seals buy-out of Stronafian forest

The Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust has completed the purchase of the 600-hectare Stronafian Forest - the biggest community forest buy-out so far in Argyll and Bute.

The land, to the east of the A886 road through Glendaruel, has been bought from the Forestry Commission for £1.55 million under the National Forest Land Scheme.

The purchase will allow the trust to create sustainable housing, woodland crofts, renewable energy sources and amenity spaces on their newly-owned land.

The funding package for the bid includes investment of £1.3 million from a commercial tenant for rights to the commercial forestry on the land for the next 99 years.

The trust also raised more than £300,000 to meet the balance of the purchase price as well as for legal fees and a two-year post for a community forest project officer.

Trust chair Charles Dixon-Spain said: “We are thrilled with this acquisition which is confirmation of the momentum our community has been building over the last five years.

“Colintraive and Glendaruel is a community that has been in decline for many years, and the Trust feels this purchase signals the renewing of our community, of bringing people in and services back and of ensuring the future of those services that we have held onto.”

The trust is supported by the Cruach Mhor Windfarm Trust, Argyll and the Islands Leader, Highland and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Land Fund, the Big Fund, Community Energy Scotland, and Forestry Commission Scotland.

The Stronafian forest buy-out, though not the first in the area, is on a considerably larger scale than the purchase of 161 hectares at the north end of Bute by the Bute Community Land Company (BCLC) in 2011.

As reported on this site on February 18, BCLC has been given the go-ahead to apply for £1 million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Growing Community Assets programme to meet the costs of building an ecological forest centre and lodge accommodation, plus support for training and marketing, in the commercial section of the forest at Rhubodach.