Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Thank you - and please keep telling us what you think

Very many thanks to everyone who came along to our event at the Scout Hut on Saturday. Overall we had nearly 80 people turning up and there was a great deal of information shared and a lot of ideas collected. We had maps, charts, surveys, displays, 3D models - and we had fires outside and made kindling. We had all sort of people there including the Community Council, Sustrans, and the Forestry College and lots of of people who live nearby and use the woods.
So what happens now? Well, we are continuing to gather ideas and if you know anyone who wants to contribute, or to help, please urge them to fill out the online survey by 24 Feb  at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QTGSQ9K

Then our team of independent facilitators from Abriachan will collate the information and write up a report for our Management Committee - and we will decide what to do next.

Lots of good conversations going on....

Talking about woodland management and making kindling - all at the same time.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Who owns Culduthel Woods?

One of the first projects that the Culduthel Woods Group undertook was to collate all of the available information about ownership of the woods and commission some legal advice. In summary, we have found out that:

  • Up until 2002 the woods (probably extending to around 5 to 6 Ha.) were owned by a company called Tullochs Homes (Culduthel) Ltd. But, in 2002 the company was “dissolved voluntarily”, presumably because they had no further interest in the land.
  • In Scots law, the title of the land in such situations falls to the Crown, whose representative in Scotland is a little-known organisation called “The Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer” or QLTR. 
  •  In 2013/14 the QLTR corresponded with The Highland Council and the Community Council about the land – but neither organisation was inclined, or able, to take on ownership of the land.
  • The QLTR is not obliged to own and manage any land. In July 2014 they formally disclaimed the land, leaving it technically ownerless.
  • It is important to note that all the trees are still protected by the Highland Council’s Tree Preservation Order and that it is an offence for any person to cut or prune a tree without permission.
There are still quite few things we don’t know – we don’t know the exact boundaries of the land in question; and some of the maps in the earlier title deeds seem to be missing. The Group are still working to collate this information. Any assistance would be appreciated.

So what happens now?

·     This is a pretty unusual situation. No-one can really manage the woods without the ownership being clear. If there was an owner then a community group could maybe lease the land, or manage it by  agreement – but no-one owns the land at present. Looking forwards there are two broad options: 

o There is a legal process that the Group could go through to claim ownership on behalf of the community – but that will take some time and money.  We need to know if there is community support to do that.

o Or, we could leave the woods as they are, with no-one owning the land. But the problems that we have now – with dangerous trees, litter, broken fences and vandalism – are likely to get worse over time. No-one would be responsible for taking a lead and sorting them out. 

·     We haven’t decided what to do next. And that is why we are keen to hear peoples’ views - see the last blog entry for details.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Please let us know what you think...

Over the next couple of weeks we are really keen to hear what you think about the Culduthel Woods and how they will be managed in the future. So please:

  • Come along to our drop-in event on Saturday 16 Feb (11am to 3pm) at the Scout Hall on Green Drive, IV2 4EU when you can hear about the work we have been doing on:
    • ownership of the woods 
    • assessment of tree safety issues 
    • ....and you can share your ideas
  • or call 01463 861259 in evenings between 6pm and 9pm to speak to our independent facilitator to ask any questions or share your views.

Everything you tell us will be used to help make decisions about what happens next.

Thanks to Forestry Commission Scotland for supporting this community engagement process.

Thank you!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Why we started the Culduthel Woods Group...

We formed the Culduthel Woods Group in July 2018 for three basic reasons....

First, the woods are already well-loved and very well used, especially by young people and by folk who live nearby.  We thought the Group would help bring those people who were interested together to consider how to look after and to manage the woods. 

Second, there had been repeated concerns expressed to the Community Council and to Highland Councillors over the last few years about the condition of the woods.  There were problems with litter, vadalism to trees and a general sense of neglect.  People were worried that some of the trees weren't safe.  And it wasn't clear who owned the woods or who was responsible for what.  We thought the Group could look into these issues and chart out a way forwards.

Finally, the Community Council had been successful in raising some money from the Highland Council to help get us started.  So, following an open community meeting in February 2018 there was a call for volunteers and the Group was formed with a simple  constitution and bank account, free membership open to anyone in the communty and a small Management Committee.  Support and advice was also provided by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Community Woods Association. 

Contact us at our email address (on right hand side of page) if you want to join as a member (free) and be kept informed.