THE community ownership of a Ross-shire wood is to be celebrated this Saturday (September 15) with a family launch event from noon to 4pm.
Evanton residents were told last month that the six-year campaign behind the £300,000 takeover of 65 hectares of local woodland from Novar Estate had been successful.
The villagers clinched the deal to buy Evanton Wood after the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to put up £321,000 towards the project, of which up to £200,000 is towards the purchase itself, and the rest for a five-year plan.
The HLF were impressed by the involvement of the community in a series of local events and volunteer activities in the wood and by the evidence of support through surveys and letters from many groups and individuals.
The latest event will be this weekend’s gathering to celebrate the buyout, which will include a tree planting ceremony and a host of woodland activities in an area known as "Mag’s Wood".
Mag "the wood", as she was known locally, lived in a wooden house there until the 1950s.
During the afternoon of celebration there will be opportunities to try out pole lathing, minibeast hunting, pond dipping, bushcraft, tree measuring and a family scavenger hunt.
Local musicians will provide music from the small marquee and participants will be able to make their own music on the giant wooden xylophone.
Martin Hind, Highland Council’s ranger, will be in attendance, so too will Simon Harry who has recently started as Evanton Wood Education and Outreach Coordinator.
Henry Fosbrooke will bring his woodland orchestra kit and his pole lathe.
Around 1pm there will be a tree planting ceremony and a few short speeches, including one by local tree expert John Miller, to be followed by food and refreshments.
The event, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders, is free, but donations are welcome.
There will be an opportunity to find out more about the plans for the community wood and how to get involved over the coming months and years.
A recent open meeting showed that some 25 residents are keen to be involved in the management and development of their woodland, and there is to be a wide range of initiatives and opportunities, including improving access and paths, providing seating, introducing better signposting and interpretation panels and leaflets, compiling an education pack and staging educational events.
In addition, the biodiversity of the woodland is to be improved, with pond development, planting native trees and shrubs, volunteer work days, skills and other training, recording and surveying, plus a range of community events.