Here’s a short report on the meeting held with representatives from the Future Forest Company on 15th November, for those who were unable to attend.
There seemed to be a positive reaction to suggestions of some sort of community benefits from the scheme, so please email us or come along to the next community council meeting on 13th December to discuss what we think might best benefit the community.
The context of this and other woodland developments is a Scottish Government target to plant 18,000 hectares of new forest per year by 2024-25 to address climate change and biodiversity issues and to ensure a sustainable supply of wood products.
The D&G Forestry and Woodland Strategy, classifies the Borgue peninsula as being ‘preferred’ for native and mixed woodlands, and softwoods. The current proportion of land within a 5km radius of the site occupied by forestry is about 11.7%, the current proposal would increase that to ~12.7%, D&G as a whole has 25% forestry coverage.
Land at MoP is currently owned by a private investor but will be purchased from them over a period of 5 years by the Future Forest Company (FFC).
FFC is owned by a number of private investors. They currently own around 12 other properties and according to CEO Jim Mann the company “was born with the aim to deliver large scale reforestation projects of degraded land in the UK to have a meaningful impact in the fight against climate change“. They list their priorities as
carbon sequestration,protecting and enhancing biodiversity,
while protecting existing cultural heritage features, hydrology and sustaining employment.
Some context about the process of applying for Scottish Forestry grants was given. We are now in the formal consultation period following site surveying, scoping, specialised surveys of wildlife and review of the original proposals to take feedback into account. The deadline for consultation will be held open until the community (via BCC or as individuals) has commented.
90% of the land at MoP has been classified as Agricultural Class 5 (land capable of being use as improved grassland). The proposal includes planting about 50 ha of the site with the following mixes:
Scots Pine mix 17.14 ha
Mixed broadleaves 19.85 ha
Native broadleaves 18.21 ha
Scots pine 60%
Norway spruce 20%
Silver birch 10 %
Aspen 10 %
Sessile oak 40 %
Silver birch 30 %
Sycamore 14 %
Aspen 10 %
Wild cherry 5 %
Sweet chestnut 1 %
Sessile oak throughout
Silver birch throughout
Rowan on margins
Aspen on drier ground
Hawthorn on drier ground
Hazel & Holly on margins
There will be no ploughing and existing areas of wetland/peatland including ponds will not be planted, nor will any area assessed as sensitive habitat for breeding birds or protected species. Most existing scrub (mainly gorse, about 75%) will be left in place. Most of the planting will be enclosed by deer fencing, the exception being the land north and west of the access road where biodegradable tree shelters will be used.
Conservation grazing with about 6 cattle will be used for short periods to enhance biodiversity in the grassy areas which have already been improved.
The farmhouse is already let and cottage will also be up for rent once repairs are completed. Local contractors have been used for building works.
There are a number of other buildings in various states of repair whose future uses haven’t yet been decided.
One job will be created, altho’ not clear how full/part-time or permanent.
Paths will be created through the woodland with gates at north and south boundaries (after consultation with other land owners) and will be available for use by the community, subject to the Scottish Outdoor Access code.
FFC estimate that preparation of the site will take about a year, with planting beginning about this time next year.
They don’t anticipate harvesting for 50 years (broadleaf species) or 80 years (conifers). They would not clear fell the whole area at one time but would cut and replant smaller areas sequentially.
Income will be generated in 3 ways: