Urban woodlands set for makeovers

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Grant funding of over £642,000 has been awarded to 15 projects across Scotland to help spruce up local woodlands for people to enjoy.

The cash boost will be used for a number of different initiatives including building or upgrading woodland path networks, installing new benches, developing stronger links with schools and preparing woodland management plans.

The successful projects are spread across the country from Stornoway, Dundee, Argyll, Perthshire, through to the West and the Central Belt.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Scotland’s forests and woodlands have an important part to play in increasing the quality of life for many people.

“Over 50 per cent of the Scottish population live within two miles of a woodland so there is a great natural resource on our doorstep to be used.

“Woodlands can be a focus for community involvement and with better access can boost healthier lifestyles for local people.”

The grants are from Forestry Commission Scotland’s Woods In and Around Towns initiative and Forest for People challenge funds. These funds are  designed to help woodland owners revitalise existing woodlands for the benefit of local people and support community-based health and education activities. 

Amongst the projects receiving grants are:

 North and West Argyll Forest Education Initiative: to receive £105,588 to employ a development worker to deliver Forest School and outdoor learning projects in the area. The worker will use local woodlands as a learning environment for school children. 

 West Dunbartonshire Council: to receive £158, 819 for upgrading six woodlands belonging to the Council. Over 2,000 metres of new paths will be constructed to boost access as well as the replacing of footbridges, adding new picnic benches, waymarking and interpretation.

 Dunnet Forest Trust (near Thurso): awarded £41, 509 for a project to strengthen local community involvement with the forest through volunteering, events, school and youth activities.

 Dundee City Council: a number of projects totalling over £93,600 has been awarded to the Council for boosting access in a number of woodlands. Work could include resurfacing trails, promoting forest schools, signage, picnic benches and tidying up vegetation.

 Livingston Community Woodlands: owned by the Woodland Trust Scotland, the woodlands provide a network of walking routes throughout Livingston. £81,700 will go towards 900 metres of path being upgraded, two hectares of rhododendrons removed and 6.5 hectares of dense woodland thinned out. Local schools will be involved in new planting.

Notes to news editors

1. The funding to physically revitalise woodlands across Scotland is primarily from the WIAT (Woods In and Around Towns) Challenge fund, to which applicants submit bids to Forestry Commission Scotland. A second Challenge Fund, Forests For People (F4P), has been developed to support the activities necessary to help people enjoy their local woods. This fund supports community-based, education and health activities that encourage greater use of woodland. This fund is available to applicants across Scotland. Both funds come under the Scotland Rural Development Programme which provides a framework to deliver European and Scottish Government funding for social, economic and environmental benefits. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

2.   Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate.

3.   A full list of all the projects that have received funding is as follows:

 Stornoway Trust: £14,174 for Lewis Castle Grounds for the production of a management plan as part of a two-stage project to carry out recreation and regeneration work. (WIAT)

 Dunnet Forest Trust: £41,509 to build community links with the forest through a new community ranger who will explore employment and education opportunities and the potential for supplying woodfuel.  (WIAT/F4P)

 Livingston Community Woodlands: The Woodland Trust Scotland has been awarded £74,200 (WIAT) and £7,500 (F4P) to encourage more use of the popular woodlands.

 Woodland Trust Scotland: £77,000 has been awarded to the Trust to deliver a Scotland-wide VisitWoods project in Scotland. Funding will help in a new interactive web-based database of accessible woodlands and the employment of an engagement officer who will develop links with key user groups who can help populate the database. (F4P)

 Esk Valley Woodlands: a number of organisations have joined forces to produce an integrated management plan for 191 hectares of woodland surrounding the North Esk river. A comprehensive consultation exercise is to be included in the process. £16,200 has been awarded (WIAT)

 Cornbank Woodland, Penicuik: Midlothian Council has received £30,000 to improve access to this small but important woodland in the heart of Penicuik. Plans are to build in an education element with the local school.

 Blairgowrie Riverside Wood: Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust received £14,652 to help fell trees in the wood. This is part of a bid to boost disabled access to the wood.  (WIAT)

 Dundee City Council: received £93,600 for a number of projects:

- Templeton Woods: £27,830 for resurfacing trails, wooden footbridges and events over a number of years.
- ActiveWoods feasibility study: £1,800 to explore how local woodlands can be used to help boost mental health facilities and improve healthy lifestyles in woodlands across the City.
- Ardler Woods: £16, 528 to encourage more use of the woodland by removal of fencing, development of wildflower areas, planting, installing picnic tables and signage.
- Forest Schools: £1,320 towards a Forest Schools worker who will visit all 18 schools in Dundee to help promote the initiative which uses woodlands as a learning environment.
- The Miley: leased to the Scottish Wildlife Trust from the Council, a number of improvements are in the pipeline to improve and encourage access, including disabled. £46,195 has been awarded.

 North and West Argyll Forest Education Initiative: £105, 558 to promote 18 forest school and outdoor learning projects using woodlands in the area. A development worker will be employed to carry out the work and co-ordinate with local schools.

 Cumbernauld Woods: North Lanarkshire Council has been awarded £9,000 (WIAT) to develop a comprehensive management plan covering the future of around 170 individual woodland blocks covering 200 hectares of urban woodland.

 West Dunbartonshire Council: received £158, 819 to develop six woodland sites with various recreation facilities. Dangerous trees are also to be felled and knotweed/rhododendrons cleared from the area. (WIAT)

4.   Media enquiries: for detailed information on each project you should contact the organisations direct who have received funding, alternatively Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.

e-mail: steve.williams@forestry.gsi.gov.uk