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A forest on Mull is set to be bought for the community following an award of £518,420 from the Scottish Land Fund.
The money will allow Mull and Iona Community Trust to buy the 200ha Ardura Forest in the south of the island, where it aims to restore the ancient woodland that was replaced during the 1960s by commercial conifers.
The group also plans to develop woodland trails through the trees and to create a forest school for local children.
Moray Finch, general manager of Mull and Iona Community Trust, said: ‘The opportunity presented by this grant will empower the community of Mull to restore Ardura Forest in a way that benefits nature and biodiversity while at the same time creating opportunities for crofting, recreation and wild-life viewing.
‘We’re delighted that we can start to deliver the plans suggested by the community.’
And Tobermory Harbour Association has received £22,040 to purchase the Solum of Ledaig car park and boat park within Tobermory as part of long-term environmental and economic plans for the community.
Anne Fraser, general manager, Tobermory Harbour, said: ‘We are delighted to receive this award from the Scottish Land Fund.
‘This piece of land has strategic importance for the long-term development of Tobermory Harbour. Ownership of the Solum will empower the local community to ensure any future development of Ledaig will include a community impact assessment.
‘As community landowners, Tobermory Harbour Association will work in partnership with government bodies on equal terms, to drive transformational change, for the good of the local community.’
And Brian Swinbanks, chairman of Tobermory Harbour, said: ‘Tobermory Harbour welcomes this historic award from the Scottish Land Fund which will return seabed, infilled with the support of the Crown Estate in the 1990s, to community ownership in 2019.’
Also this month, Applecross Community Company has been given £11,900 to purchase part of the garden of Applecross Surgery from NHS Highland and develop three two-bedroom properties for affordable housing aimed to support older people in the community.
Roslyn Clarke, local development officer, Applecross Community Company, said: ‘This is great news. This will make a big difference in addressing our housing crisis in Applecross.
‘This is the first purchase of land the community has undertaken through the Community Asset Transfer process. Receiving funding from the SLF will empower the community to address its housing shortage.’
The grants are part of a total of £1,628,610 that has been awarded to eight groups across Scotland during the latest round of grants from the Scottish Land Fund.
Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said of the grants: ‘This substantial set of Scottish Land Fund grants will enable eight diverse projects across the country to buy up key assets for the benefit of local people and put the ownership and responsibility of key services and facilities right at the heart of the community.
‘The Scottish Land Fund supports a wide range of community ownership projects. Behind each one lies a story, as well as a great deal of hard work and commitment from local residents to unlock the opportunity that this funding brings.
‘I congratulate each of the successful applicants and wish them good luck on the next chapter of their journey.’