Community History

We decided that the way forward would be a radical development of the infrastructure of the forest to improve the amenity value for the general public, to naturalise the forest with native species and in the process to create jobs. We also decided to retain part of the forest for commercial operations which would help sustain the Trust. This course of action involved further grant applications for the substantial funding necessary to achieve these objectives.

Roads had to be built to extract our timber. Our consultant forester secured a contract to provide pulp timber from the clearing and thinning operations. This put the Trust on a more secure long-term financial footing. These operations were further boosted by the purchase of machinery including a mini-forwarder, tractor with chipper and firewood processor.

Through sensitive forest management and as much continuous cover thinning as the wind allows, we have created employment opportunities for local people and increased the biodiversity of our forest and surrounding ground. Local school pupils involved in Rural Skills and Skills for Work courses are involved in relevant forest improvement projects.

Improving the environmental value of our forest was to be the most long-term goal, with the replacement of monoculture spruce and lodgepole pine blocks with native species thus reforesting the Great Glen with Millennium Forest for Scotland. To date, we have successfully increased the black grouse population by creating suitable habitats, we have restored wet areas beside streams, and we have planted over 200,000 native trees.

School-led surveys have demonstrated that the increase in species of ground flora and fauna have markedly improved the biodiversity of the woodland. Our efforts are recognised as being an investment in our local tourist industry, currently promoting green tourism and in 2007 we won the Multipurpose Woodland category in Scotland’s Finest Woodlands Awards and the Nancy Ovens’ Award for outstanding contribution to community play.

The judges were impressed by the sustained commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteers, the innovative education and recreation programme and the management of the forest under our consultant Dietrich Pannwitz.

To increase the amenity value of the forest, a network of path construction was started along with the provision of rain shelters, interpretation, car parking and toilet facilities.