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Stromeferry & Achmore

What's happening?

March 2024

The Concordat

Back in 2000 the Trust signed a Concordat (partnership agreement) with the Forestry Commission regarding the management of South Strome Forest. Activity around this agreement has lapsed a bit over the years, but it was agreed to run for 25 years so it is still in place.

The Trust board met last week with Alex MacLeod, Regional Manager for north Scotland, and other staff to discuss where the Trust want to take it from here. Things have changed a lot over the years, not least by the Forestry Commission being superceded by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) which, although retaining some of the same staff, has been reorganised, and ideas and priorities have moved on. With this change in management many of the principles set out in the Concordat are now part of the normal FLS approach. Details of FLS plans for this area can be found on their website: https://forestryandland.gov.scot/what-we-do/planning/active/lochalsh Their current plan runs for 10 years from 2016.

It was a very constructive meeting and together we will work towards an updated document maintaining a renewed dialogue and spirit of cooperation. The purpose of the original Concordat was to involve the community in decision making, keeping it informed about management of the forest, and creating local benefit. These things will be reiterated in the new one.

Community benefits have come from the partnership in the past and there is great potential now for future developments. The board will be seeking the input of the community over the next few months. Topics which came up were:

  • Firewood supplies, which we will be discussing further. There are precedents now for community firewood such as at Reelig Glen (Aird Community Trust)
  • Footpaths in Strome Wood and their maintenance. Many community groups work with FLS on maintenance work and we will continue working together on this.
  • Tourism and the impact of visitors, campervans etc, which can be a problem and the fact that, due to funding cuts, FLS no longer have a ranger covering this area. They do, however, have other staff who can help and would appreciate information and feedback. If you have anything to report please get in touch with the local office or Lizzie Bird or myself and we will pass it on.
  • Many community groups use their local forest for educational activities and projects, as the Trust has done in the past. Some ideas were mentioned at the meeting and will be further explored.

This meeting was just the beginning, and the Trust will be following up ideas and possibilities, and your input is an important part of the process.

Trust Governance

The Trust is a Company Limited by Guarantee, and the legal governance document is its Memorandum and Articles. This was created in 1998, and since then there have been various legal changes including The Land Reform Act 2003, Companies Act 2006 and Community Empowerment Act 2016. Due to these factors and others, the board have been reviewing the Trust Mem and Arts and are considering an update. The intention is to clarify things and create a new document which is more focussed and readable, while retaining the core purpose and spirit of the Trust.

In 2011 the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) was introduced. The purpose of this legal form was to allow charities to be incorporated while making administration simpler, being regulated just by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). The Trust directors have had a good look into this and will propose a conversion. A new constitution based on a standard template will be drafted and discussed and consulted on in the coming months.

The FCT board will keep you updated. Watch this space!

 

In November The Trust received a grant from Awards for All (the National Lottery) for a toolshed, which will house mowers and other tools and materials for volunteer use.  It will be put up at the picnic site shortly.

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