A new era of local land ownership starts today, April 12th, when the community purchase of Gifford’s Speedy and Fawn Woods was completed.
The 55 acres of woodland were previously privately owned. Now that is set to change, thanks to months of hard work by a dedicated group of local volunteers, engagement and fundraising within the community and grant from the Scottish Land Fund, EastLothian Council Partnership Funding and the Fallago Environment Fund.
The future will see the woods in communal ownership and managed as a resource for all living, or visiting, locally to appreciate and help to sustain. With a Project Manager ready to start work and grants towards the operational costs of managing the woods in place, the next steps will start straight away.
A community event to celebrate this local success story is planned for early June to thank everyone who has worked on making the purchase possible, including by donating towards the costs not covered by grants.
John Wrinn, Chair of GCLC, commented:-
“Our journey towards this landmark started in 2015 when the woods were offered to the community, and today is the first big milestone in that journey. We have learnt a lot together in a short time and generated many interesting ideas for how we can work together to enjoy and manage these much-loved woods for the benefit of the whole community.
Our plans now include improving paths and ensuring they are suitable for everyone to use. We’ll be making things better for the trees, plants, animals and insects in the woods too, by ensuring that their habitat is managed effectively. It is a very exciting time for the village; the woods are a favourite place for many people, and this project means we can make sure this continues for years to come.
It has taken a sustained and intense effort by many local people to get us this far and the whole management group would like to thank them for their donations and time, as well as our funders. We look forward to meeting everyone in our woods soon!”
Notes for Editors
GCLC is a charity formed to secure and develop 55 acres of Plantation on an Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS) and Native Woodland, which forms the northern boundary to the historic village of Gifford in East Lothian, for the benefit of the local community. The charity has secured funding from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the Speedy and Fawn Woods. Grants have been secured from Fallago Rig and East Lothian Council for operation costs. Local people have donated matching funds towards costs.
The Project Manager will support the Board of Trustees and volunteer management group to develop and implement a three-year plan for the future of the woodland. This will develop over time, but the initial key areas of focus will be:-
- Active management, development and conservation of the existing woodland.
- Engaging local schools, residents and community groups in a programme of conservation and educational activities within, or relating to, the woodland.
- Engagement of, and support to, individual and groups of volunteers for woodland management activities.
- The Scottish Land Fund reopened to applications in April 2016. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade.
- The SLF Committee was appointed following the normal procedures for public appointments.
- The BIG Lottery Fund distributes lottery funding to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. It also uses its expertise in grant-giving to distribute non-Lottery funding. Full details of the BIG Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk. BIG Lottery Fund Public Enquiries Line call: 0300 123 7110.