Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Litter-pick 2019

Thanks to everyone who attended the  Great Lochardil Litter-pick last night - about 40 bags of litter removed from Culduthel Woods, Lochardil Woods, Macdonald Park and Culduthel Park. Thanks to Cllrs Ron MacWilliam and Callum Smith from Highland Council for coming along to help out - and judging the prize for  best litter story. And thanks to the Stratherrick Scouts in assocation with the  Community Council and the IRA for organising it all...

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Community Engagement Report - and Next Steps

The report from our community engagement exercise that we held during February can be accessed via this LINK.  Many thanks everyone who got involved - and thanks to the Abriachan Forest Trust for helping us with the work.

The summary highlights from the report are:
  • We had  around 80 people at our “drop-in” event and more than 50 online surveys were completed. So, counting the  pupils that were involved in local schools, the Scouts and the local Rotary Club that we engaged with, that means that nearly 200 people were involved overall.
  • Most people responding  used the woods daily (32%) or weekly (31%)
  • The overall response was VERY positive - 90% of people agreed (29%) or strongly agreed (61%) that we should move to form a community group to own/manage the woods
  • Over 80 people were willing to volunteer to help and over 30 to contribute financially

The Management Committee considered the report of all this feedback at a meeting in early March and agreed to move towards forming a charity or similar body.  To be clear, we haven’t taken any steps towards owning the woods yet and so the ownership position remains unchanged - no-one owns the woods.

Also, guided by the feedback we got from people, we are taking further steps to look the management of the trees that we have had surveyed.  There are 43 trees that have been recommended for removal, and 18 trees need remedial work, for example having dangerous branches removed.  These are mostly trees near the paths or woodland boundaries which are potentially dangerous.  We are having discussions with The Highland Council - and with the former owners of the woods, Tullochs Homes - about how that work might be financed. We will post updates as the situation develops.

Thanks again to everyone who gave us their views.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Thank you!

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!