A social enterprise aims to deliver a range of sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits in a remote Dumfries and Galloway forest – thanks to support from South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE).
Carsphairn Community Woodland (CCW) has received £300,000 from the region’s economic and community development agency to take forward a series of innovative projects at Muirdochwood on the outskirts of Carsphairn village.
The project will aim not only to provide a forest base for the local community to enjoy but also to become the centre for training and development in forestry and rural skills in the South of Scotland, as well as providing agriculture and environmental learning opportunities.
They also aim to create a sustainable tourism attraction with inclusive access, with CCW’s overall plans expected to lead to further jobs for this rural area of the region.
CCW previously received support from SOSE in October 2020 to fund development work for their plans.
It led to CCW purchasing almost 50 hectares of Muirdochwood from Forestry and Land Scotland earlier this year, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund and Carsphairn Renewable Energy Fund Ltd.
This work helped the social enterprise put together a sustainable business model with multiple income streams including forestry management, a community woodfuel business, creation of recreation infrastructure and a rural skills hub.
This will be taken forward with the help of SOSE’s six figure grant, which will support:
- Construction of a forest shed and yard to create office accommodation and processing of firewood
- Provision of equipment and tools for the operation of the forestry, wood fuel business and for volunteer work in the forest
- Enabling works including car park and access road for a volunteer centre
- Development of public facilities including accessible paths to encourage inclusive use of the forest
- Support for two jobs, with the aim of the jobs becoming self-funded by the business in coming years, as well as further posts being created
SOSE’s support will also be used to create an access road and car park for a volunteer centre, which will be funded by other sources but is expected to include public toilets, information centre and room for events, training and education.
Dr Martin Valenti, SOSE’s Director for NetZero, said:
“We need innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to make sure the just transition to NetZero is fair and creates a better future for everyone.
“Carsphairn Community Woodland is a fantastic example of this. The benefits associated with this project are wide-ranging including new jobs, cleaner domestic fuel, social inclusion, and plans to develop a community-owned recreational woodland and a regional forestry, agriculture and environmental training centre.
“I look forward to SOSE working with more organisations and businesses in the South to realise the opportunities which the journey to NetZero presents.”
Professor Russel Griggs, SOSE’s Chair, added:
“We have been working with Carsphairn Community Woodland for a considerable length of time, which has allowed us to fully understand what they want to do for their community and how best we can support them.
“I am delighted we are now able to assist their exciting plans, which will aim to invigorate a very rural area of the South of Scotland and help provide economic, social and environmental benefits in a sustainable way.”
David McMillan, Chair of Carsphairn Community Woodland said:
“We have worked hard over the past few years to reach this point and we are delighted to have secured this funding from SOSE.
“The funding will enable us to provide the infrastructure to sustainably manage the woodland for the community, as well as create a centre for much-needed rural skills training.
“This is a very exciting point in the project and our thanks go to SOSE for their support and for working with us, and to all the funders and advisers, including the Community Woodland Association, who have helped on our journey.
“Thanks also to our community members who have supported our Directors in this project.”