Communities benefit from woodland access boost

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Twenty one projects across the country have been awarded grants from Forestry Commission Scotland with the aim of improving woodlands and encouraging more communities to use them.

The successful projects are based mainly in the central belt but also in Tayside, Grampian and one in the Highland region. 

Many of the projects are in key locations where the Commission is focusing its work with partners to improve urban woodlands.  

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Having woodlands on your doorstep offers so many benefits for communities.

“Not only can well managed woodlands be a focus for community involvement, they can encourage more people to get out and about for fresh air and improve healthier lifestyles.”

Amongst the successful projects are:

• Ninewells Hospital (Dundee): £38,694 has been awarded as part of an on-going programme to enable the use of the hospital’s woodlands for patients, staff, visitors and local people.

• Polbeth and Parkhead Access Network (West Lothian): The Council has been awarded £183,364 to upgrade paths, install a boardwalk and viewing platform and restore the natural riverbank environment in this popular woodland.

•  Greenlink mountain bike skills zone (Motherwell): £53,963 for woodland management, tree planting and helping the construction of a mountain bike skills zone on waste ground in the Greenlink area. The project aims to get more local young people involved in the facility, with health and community benefits.

• Branching Out programme (Edinburgh): £41,897 towards the use of woodlands in Edinburgh for activities that improve social and mental health problems.

• Finlaystone Country Estate (Inverclyde): £15,000 to train up to four adults to run Forest Kindergarten programmes in the area, using woodlands as a natural education resource.

The grants are from the Commission’s Woods In and Around Towns and Forests for People challenge funds. The support is designed to help revitalise existing woodlands for local people and encourage  community-based health and education projects.

The Commission intends to target its partnership working to enhance urban woodlands towards the four city regions. This move will enable more people to benefit from the many advantages that greenspace offers.

Plans are being developed to establish a national network of key WIAT projects which will act as a foundation to showcase good urban woodland management.


Notes to news editors

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

2.  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. 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.

3. The full list of projects is as follows. For more detailed information we suggest you contact the successful applicants.


• Milton Community Woodland Trust: £38,347 to help deliver the ‘Stepping Stones’ project to provide educational underachievers in care with a programme of practical woodland activities which will help them in getting a job.


• Friends of Durris Forests: £37,785 for the development of a six week Forest School programme for local primary school children.
• Huntly Woodlands: Aberdeenshire Council awarded £113,790 for restructuring woodlands to create better access, recreation and community involvement.


• Callander Craig Lower Woods: Stirling Council receives £22,251 to improve the small woodland which acts as a backdrop to the town.
• Callander Meadows Woods: £18,290 awarded to Stirling Council for woodland operations to improve the attractiveness of the small woodland and to promote health walks.
• Gean Wood: Clackmannanshire Council gets £21,860 for access improvements and the control of non native species found in the woodland which surrounds Gean House.
• Arnsbrae Wood: Clackmannanshire Council receives £34,156 to revitalise this small woodland so that it acts as a greenspace link between residential areas.
• Ninewells Hospital: NHS Tayside awarded £38,694 for phase 2 of a project to encourage staff, patients, visitors and local people to make more use of the hospital’s surrounding woodlands. Installing paths, signage, waymarking and local leaflets.

Central Belt

• Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust: £4,932 towards a programme of guided activities in woodland sites in Edinburgh.
• Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust: £4,942 towards a programme of guided activities for diverse ethnic groups who do not usually use woodlands.
• Hillhouse and Shotts Nature Reserve: £62,242 for the creation of safe and varied access routes for all abilities and outdoor teaching facilities within the Nature Park. Moves to tackle anti-social behaviour are also being addressed.
• Polbeth and Parkhead Access Network (West Lothian): The Council has been awarded £183,364 to upgrade paths, install a boardwalk and viewing platform and restore the natural riverbank environment in this well used woodland.
• Greenlink MTB Skills Zone: £53,963 for woodland management with volunteering and creation of a mtb skills zone, encouraging healthier lifestyles with young people. (Central Scotland Forest Trust acting as agent.)
• Ayrshire Forest Education Initiative: £9,753 towards training up to 32 adults to deliver a Forest School programme in Ayrshire’s local authority areas.
• Grounds For Learning: the organisation has been awarded £24,824 to help promote the benefits of woodland play facilities in six schools across the central belt.
• The Thistle Foundation has been awarded £41,897 to use Edinburgh’s woodlands for activities to improve the mental health and social problems of people taking part.
• Apex Scotland: £71,233 to help develop a collaborative programme of work with the Commission, helping young offenders improve their future prospects. The work will be carried out in Fife and Renfrewshire.
• Finlaystone Country Park (Greenock): Ladybird Pre-5 centre awarded £15,000 to train up to four adults to deliver Forest Kindergarten programme.
• Bowhill Community Woodland: Fife Council awarded £8,906 for path upgrades, interpretation, mountain bike tracks etc for local residents.
• Cowdenbeath Woodend Woodland: £10,125 towards measures which will help overcome vandalism and illegal motorbike use. Work to improve the woodland and encourage community involvement is planned.
• Valleyfield Woodland Park: £136,934 towards Fife Council to upgrade this woodland and garden area which is well used by local people and community groups. Improvements to the path network is planned as is disability access, interpretation and the creation of a new parking area. Extensive areas of neglected woodland will be thinned out to open more space and improve access.

4.   Media enquiries: Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508 or