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Morvern Community Woodlands (MCW) has been offered a grant of £1million from the Scottish Land Fund towards the purchase of the 2,400 hectare (6,000 acre) Killundine Estate in Morvern.
This is a unique proposal by a community to purchase a Highland estate which no one is currently living on.
The group has identified ownership of the estate as a key factor in creating housing and employment opportunities, as well as driving forward projects to protect and restore the natural environment in one of the most remote parts of Scotland.
Veronique Walraven, chairperson of MCW, told us: ‘We are very grateful for the support from Scottish Land Fund. Morvern is a fragile community with an ageing population and a falling school roll.
‘Among other things, our plans for Killundine will bring business and housing prospects for young families.
‘We now need to raise the additional capital of £1.7 million so that the people of Morvern – and the West Highlands more widely – can benefit from the opportunities this presents. This is important now more than ever.’
Killundine Estate is made up of hill ground which supports grazing for deer – pastures; conifer plantation and ancient semi-natural Atlantic hazel woodland.
MCW’s plans include a proposal to create new crofts, as well as harvesting
timber, restoring estate buildings, regenerating native woodland and restoring peatlands.
The restoration of the ancient native woodlands on Killundine, which are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest as part of Scotland’s rainforest and include one of the largest remaining populations of elm in Scotland, is of particular interest to the group.
Tying the project into restoration of the Gaelic heritage of the area is also being proposed.
The board of MCW is composed of volunteers with a high proportion of young people. Adam Nicholson, author of Sea Room, commented: ‘With a highly committed and knowledgeable community, and an inspiring landscape that knits together hill and shore, Killundine represents a glowing opportunity to make something beautiful and life-enhancing, an example for the rest of Scotland.’
MCW now needs to raise the remaining £1.7 million by October for the project to be successful. The group has produced a short film to launch its fundraising appeal.