Dunbeg’s new community woodland needs you

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A mum and daughter are rooting for a new forest in Dunbeg – and need your help.

The exciting project to plant a bracken-covered hillside with trees has been tasked to Susan Simpson, who grew up in Dunbeg and whose family moved into one of the 325 homes being built in the village.

Link Housing,  in charge of the home development, wanted to include a new woodland as part of its future vision for the area and asked community and charity stalwart Susan to help set up a new organisation to take the forest forward.

As well as planting native trees, ideas collected at a starter-consultation – before the pandemic hit – include a forest classroom, orchard, beehives, wildlife hides, a wellbeing trail and an area for remembrance and reflection.

Among other suggestions was a community shelter, built like the ancient roundhouse dwellings that once occupied the area.

Now Susan and her eldest daughter Charis, who is 16 and will be the rewilding project’s youngest trustee, are rallying more support from residents, groups and other  organisations from Dunbeg and the wider area.

Charity status for Dunbeg Community Woodland (DCW) is being applied for and if all goes to plan the new trees could be planted by next winter, says Susan.

To get the trees, DCW is  working in partnership with Link and Argyll Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT), which has a  compensatory planting agreement with Scottish and Southern Electric Networks (SSEN).

The Woodland Trust and Lorn Natural Heritage Group are also onboard, Argyll and Bute Council is giving support, Dunbeg Primary School wants to be hands on and Oban High School is interested in the project that will bring different age-groups together  and leave a green legacy for generations to come.

More funding and backing of sponsors will still be needed and there will be a public consultation in the spring to explore more ideas for the area – just under 10 hectares – DCW has responsibility for.

Getting communities and groups to sign up for the project would be part of the Government’s Big Climate Fightback campaign  and also tie in with the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative celebrating her platinum jubilee.

Susan said: ‘We hope to  have the next consultation in person at Dunbeg Church. We’re getting lots of interests but as well as other amazing volunteers we also desperately need a treasurer.

‘It’s so exciting to get schools onboard and we’ll be looking at ways the project can tie in with their curriculum and help their learning, so it won’t be just free labour! This isn’t just a woodland for Dunbeg, it’s for everyone.

‘Although many of us, including me, won’t be around to see the trees grow to full-size – our children, grandchildren and their children will and that makes me happy. This is a chance to tackle climate change right here and now, and leave future generations a breath of life legacy.’

Interested in getting involved? Send an email to info@dunbegcommunitywoodland.org or message Dunbeg Community Woodlance on Facebook.