NEW FOREST PARK SEEKS FRIENDS

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13 OCTOBER 2003NEWS RELEASE No: 6331

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Vibrant, popular Forest Park, 6800 hectares, Scottish Borders, wltm active people with keen interest in outdoors and local community, to share ideas with view to long-term friendship.

And as a first step the Forestry Commission Scotland is holding a Friends of Tweed Valley Forest Park information roadshow in the towns of the Tweed Valley over the next week.

Starting in Peebles this Friday, 17th October, the public are invited to go along to sessions of the roadshow to find out more about the proposal to form a "Friends" group. It will then move on to Cardrona, Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Clovenfords.

The members will be able to find out more about developments in the Park and exchange ideas with the Commission about what they would like to see happen in its forests.

Community and environment ranger Sarah Oakley, of the Commission's Scottish Borders Forest District, explained,

      "The forests of the Tweed Valley Forest Park are among the most popular in Scotland for walking, cycling, riding, mountain biking and other forms of recreation. As we've added new facilities, they have become even more popular so that they now attract an estimated 300,000 visitors each year.
      "As they become more popular, it is more important than ever that we have a means of keeping in touch with the people who use them most to know what they think about developments in the forests and what they want from them. By setting up a ’Friends’ project, we can minimise the risk of conflict between different groups and increase users' and visitors' satisfaction with their forest experience.

      "We also know from talking to visitors and forest users that many people would like to become more closely involved in the care and development of the forests, for example by volunteering for conservation work or seasonal rangering, or by using the forests as a base for acquiring new skills. The opportunity to help out in the forests could enable us to provide facilities that we would not otherwise be able to provide.

      "I would therefore encourage interested people to come along to the roadshow to find out more about what's happening and what's planned in the forests, what we're proposing for the Friends group, ask questions, and tell us if they're interested in joining such a group.
      "After next week the roadshow will remain based at Glentress Forest Visitor Centre until Christmas, when we will get people together to analyse all the comments and feedback we receive and start work on developing the Friends group.

      "This is for everybody, whether young or old, families, clubs, organisations or groups of friends."

The roadshow programme is:

Friday 17 October, Peebles Volunteer Resource Centre, which is around the
corner and through the archway to the right of the Tourist Information Centre;
Monday 20 October, Cardrona Village Hall;
Tuesday 21 October, Innerleithen Memorial Hall;
Wednesday 22 October, Walkerburn Village Hall; and
Thursday 23 October, Clovenfords Hotel Function Room.

All roadshows are open from 1pm to 8pm. After next Thursday, the roadshow displays will be based at Glentress (behind Hub Bike in the Hub Car Park) until Christmas, and open to visitors from 10am to 3pm.

Further information is available from Sarah Oakley, 01750 721120.

NOTES TO EDITORS:
  1. wltm = lonely hearts' shorthand for "would like to meet".
  2. Tweed Valley Forest Park was launched in August 2002. It comprises the publicly owned Glentress, Cardrona, Cademuir, Caberston, Traquair & Elibank, Thornielee and Yair Forests, covering 6800 hectares. These forests are managed for multiple purposes, including timber production, public recreation and nature conservation.
  3. The Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Executive's forestry department. It manages the national forests owned by Scottish Ministers, and supports other woodland owners with grants, felling licences, regulation and policy development.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Charlton Clark, FC Scotland press office, 0131 314 6507, mobile 07810 181067, or Sarah Oakley, Community & Environment Ranger, Scottish Borders Forest District, 01750 721120, mobile 07909 897803.

e-mail: charlton.clark@forestry.gsi.gov.uk