Clunes Forest School and land acquired by the local community

The acquisition of the Clunes Forest School buildings, pictured, and the adjacent Tom an Eireannaich woodland has come about after much hard work over the last few years. Photograph: ACF. NO F34 forest school sep 2020
The acquisition of the Clunes Forest School buildings, pictured, and the adjacent Tom an Eireannaich woodland has come about after much hard work over the last few years. Photograph: ACF. NO F34 forest school sep 2020

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Arkaig Community Forest has announced that the purchase of the Clunes Forest School buildings and around six hectares of adjacent land has been completed in the last few weeks.

The acquisition was accomplished with funding provided by the Scottish Land Fund and the ABC Community Group Community Benefit Fund.

The site has been acquired from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) following a successful community asset transfer request and a great deal of hard work by
volunteers and community consultation which has been underway since 2017.

The purchase will secure the future of this valuable community facility and will provide a base for the charity, plus a venue for management and interpretation of the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in partnership with Woodland Trust Scotland.

The project will enable the development of a variety of projects and activities such as a deer larder, firewood sales and a tree nursery, as well as continue to maintain and develop the community garden, play area, and willow nursery – which have been run by the community under a management agreement with FLS since 2016.

David Austin, chairman of Arkaig Community Forest SCIO, said: ‘The purchase of the Clunes Forest School site is the culmination of many years of hard work
by local community members who have worked together for over a decade to manage and maintain the building and the willow nursery and surrounding native woodland.

‘The site had been effectively mothballed for many years by the Forestry Commission (now Forestry and Land Scotland) but has continued to provide a valuable meeting space for the ABC Group since it was formed in 2008 and for Arkaig Community Forest, which was formed in 2014.

‘We are looking forward to maintaining and developing the forestry connection as the
buildings will form the base for managing the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in partnership with Woodland Trust Scotland, and we are sure that community ownership of the site here at Clunes will contribute to the resilience and sustainability of our community in the longer term.’

Craig Millar, FLS’s national community advisor, added: ‘The community has made use of the buildings as a base for events and activities in recent years so the transfer to them of the Clunes Forestry Offices is the obvious next step for the buildings and surrounding woodland.

‘This is the latest in a long line of successful asset transfers that have brought opportunities to local communities across Scotland. We wish the team at Arkaig Community Forest every success and look forward to working with them as a new neighbour.’

Jon Hollingdale, CEO of the Community Woodlands Association, said: ‘We are delighted to hear that Arkaig Community Forest has completed the acquisition of
the Clunes Forest School buildings and the adjacent Tom an Eireannaich woodland after much hard work over the last few years.

‘ACF has exciting plans to develop and manage the buildings and land to deliver a wide range of community benefits and we look forward to supporting them in any way we can.’