The agreement gives UUET a 20-year lease of land (owned by FSF) for public amenity and environmental purposes, including plans for a dedicated community woodland area, footpath creation, riparian broadleaf tree planting, habitat improvements and peatland restoration work.
Over time, the intention is to develop the site to provide recreational and educational opportunities in the area whilst simultaneously achieving a net gain for biodiversity enhancement. In May 2023, the proposed site was visited by a delegation of Scottish Land Commissioners to listen to the proposals and offer input.
Scottish Land Commission Chief Executive Hamish Trench commented:
“It is encouraging to hear this collaboration is progressing. We see big potential to develop this kind of approach further so that investment in land use change also increases the ability of local communities to deliver their priorities. We encourage land owners, investors and communities across Scotland to think about using shared ownership and decision-making, leases or other negotiated agreements to open up opportunities.”
Robert Guest, Managing Director, Foresight Sustainable Forestry, said:
“We are thrilled to support this project in collaboration with the Upper Urr Environmental Trust team and hope it will provide a template for how sustainable timber production can operate alongside local communities and environmental charities for the benefit of all. This partnership was the natural choice given our shared goals with the UUET. We want to enhance biodiversity on our forestry sites wherever possible and we are excited to see how we can evolve and improve over time, replicating this sort of scheme for many of our other forestry sites across Scotland, Wales and England. We would be delighted to engage with other similar environmental charities and community organisations to discuss potential areas of collaboration.”
Joe Seed, Chairman of Upper Urr Environmental Trust added:
“Balancing commercial forestry and environmental issues is a difficult task in these times of unprecedented biodiversity loss. We welcome this opportunity to work with FSF to safeguard and restore an ecologically important area within the Galloway Landscape. We would encourage others to engage with developments in their area as it only takes a few individuals to make a difference.”
For more information on the project, contact Upper Urr Environmental Trust at email@example.com or visit the Trust’s Facebook page. Upper Urr Environmental Trust is registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), number SC051592.