WATCH: Have your say on Dingwall community woodland plan floated by local family at Knockbain Farm
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Dingwall residents have been asked for their views on trailblazing proposals to create a 15-acre woodland for the benefit of the local community.
The Lockett family, owners of Knockbain Farm owners, believe an under-productive field could be better used by locals wishing to enjoy nature.
The tentative plans are the brainchild of Richard Lockett who runs the farm and has decades of experience in conservation.
With Covid scuppering plans for a public meeting to discuss the project, Mr Lockett has launched an online questionnaire to set the ball rolling and gauge interest.
He is motivated by a desire to do something positive for the environment through planting trees with high levels of carbon capture while creating an area for wildlife which could be supported by the Forestry Grant Scheme.
"We’re really keen to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas. We’d also like to know how involved people would like to be." - Richard Lockett
The farm has a track record with a community benefit project in the form of the Dingwall Wind Co-op, which takes the earnings from turbine generation and offers grants to environmentally friendly projects.
He said: “We think that the pandemic and ongoing environmental concerns have created a real appetite for communities to get together and do things that will make a difference. Creating a new 15-acre woodland next to Dingwall could be something that fits the bill. From our point of view, we’ve planted lots of trees on the farm and get lots of satisfaction from the way woodlands improve habitat for wildlife, provide shelter for livestock, and enhance the local landscape."
The possibility of including a community orchard and wildlife ponds is up for discussion – as is the level of community involvement.
Mr Lockett said: "We’re really keen to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas. We’d also like to know how involved people would like to be. To be a successful community project it will need plenty of input. That could include tree planting or being on a steering group, for example.
“We’ll run the consultation between now and the end of November and then go through the responses and come back to the community with some more detailed proposals.
“At the moment we don’t have a fixed idea of what a community woodland would look like. It could be a woodland that’s managed directly by the farm with some input from the community. It could be managed much more directly by the community, or perhaps, with time, it could be fully community owned. That’s why we’re so keen to hear what local people think.”