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Forestry Commission Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are working together to develop a masterplan which will explore future opportunities for one of Lochaber’s most popular forests.
The project builds on a previous study looking at potential development at Leanachan Forest near Fort William, already home to Nevis Range and the Mountain Bike World Championships, as a major recreation destination with key linkages to Fort William.
The masterplan will ensure that future recreation and forestry activities dovetail together and are co-ordinated in a sustainable way.
One key component of the project will be listening to the views of the local community, businesses and estate users amongst others, to establish their ideas and visions for the future of Leanachan.
A series of events will be organised in the near future where local people and stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate in the masterplanning process.
Kevin Peace, Forestry Commission Scotland’s District Manager in Lochaber, said:
“Leanachan is already a very popular destination for tourists who enjoy the natural and rugged terrain that Lochaber offers. We estimate that around 40 per cent of visitors coming to Fort William are there for the great outdoors and many of these are repeat visits.
“Highland Council has indicated within their Local Plan that Leanachan has potential for tourism development and that this should be considered via a masterplanning process.
“The study will look into current and future trends in tourism, demands for related property and infrastructure in the area “
The Commission and HIE are keen to explore how best to realise the economic opportunities which the site holds in conjunction with stakeholders to ensure that any development is economically viable, is sympathetic to the environment and meet local needs.
Scott Dingwall, Head of Regional Development at HIE, added:
“HIE is delighted to support Forestry Commission Scotland to explore the further opportunities that Leanachan Forest offers, as set out in the Local Plan. The aim of the masterplan is to work with the community and users of the estate to develop a clear strategy for future use of the available assets, while respecting the forestry environment.”
The Masterplan will involve a footprint comprising approximately 60 hectares - 2% of Leanachan Forest which covers 2,954 hectares in total.
The land involved is already earmarked in Highland Council’s local development plan for tourism and leisure related mixed use.
The area of land on Scotland’s national forest estate is already a popular draw for visitors and provides access to The Nevis Range, world class mountain biking, scenic walking trails and has helped gain the area “Outdoor Capital of the UK” status.
The masterplan will explore the viability of attracting private sector investment in a new sustainable leisure and accommodation development on the national forest estate.
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. For news, events and recreation information log on to www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests. For Twitter: www.twitter.com/fcscotland.
3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
4. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.