Dingwall community woodland takes root as initiative hailed 'truly fantastic'
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The first trees in Dingwall’s new community woodland have been planted with the help of the local community.
Over 7000 new native trees, mainly oak and birch, are set to create the new woodland located in fields behind the town’s Macrae Crescent.
The woodland will be the size of around five large football fields and will contain open ground and a path network to encourage recreation.
The idea of the community woodland came from local farmer and land management consultant Richard Lockett of Knockbain Farm, with the Dingwall Community Woodland Group being set up to manage the project.
Scottish Forestry has awarded £30,000 towards the planting through their Forestry Grants Scheme, with a further £3000 going to the community group to help them mobilise interest their volunteer planting initiatives.
On seeing the first trees planted, Richard Lockett said: “It really is fantastic to see all this hard work now coming to fruition. The enthusiasm and energy of the local community has been brilliant.
“We have been planting trees and hedges on Knockbain for some time now as there are so many benefits for nature, livestock shelter, climate change, and of course for people.
“The field being used for the woodland is right next to the town of Dingwall and not crucial to the farm business so when we thought about planting it up with native trees we really wanted the community to be at the heart of it all.
“We undertook a community consultation in 2020 and there was great enthusiasm and so the Dingwall Community Woodland was formed. I am delighted to see planting getting under way, much of it being done by local volunteers.”
Josie Fraser of Dingwall Community Woodland said: "We are so excited to be planting the woodland this winter. We have organised volunteers to help in the planting and it should be great fun.
“We want the woodland to be a great natural asset for the community and are currently seeking planning permission and funding for a small network of paths. This will allow everyone to access and enjoy this new woodland and see it grow over time.
“We have lots of other ideas and in the longer-term hope to take ownership and manage the woodland on behalf of the community. We have had fantastic support local people, from Richard and Scottish Forestry.”
John Risby of Scottish Forestry said: “Over many years, Knockbain Farm has planted trees and expanded its woodlands, becoming a great example of how trees can be successfully integrated with farming.
“When Richard told us of the consultation and community interest in planting a further area we were very keen to support.
"What they have all achieved so far is truly fantastic and we are very proud to have played some part in it all.”
Scottish Forestry’s local woodland officer, Donald Macleod, has worked closely with those developing the woodland plans so that £33,000 of Forestry Grant Scheme and Community Fund scheme money could be accessed.
The community woodland project at Dingwall is being hailed as a shining example of local people, farming and Scottish Forestry coming together to plant trees for nature, climate change and to strengthen a community’s health and well-being.
The tree planting will also contribute towards the Scottish Government’s annual tree planting targets which aim to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The local community are very welcome to join in with future tree planting days during January and February. More information on the events is available through the Dingwall Community Woodland Group’s website here.