On Monday 23rd November 2015, after months of negotiation and planning, Tiroran Forest came into the ownership of South West Mull and Iona Development on behalf of the community of South West Mull and Iona.
Funding for the purchase of the forest came from a £750,000 Grant from the Scottish Land Fund and a £200,000 Loan from Social Investment Scotland, with some additional grant support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help us over the first five years of the project. The cost of the forest was £880,000 plus Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, legal fees and registration costs bringing the total to approximately £930,000.
Our first priority is the felling and selling of the first coupe of mature conifers. The forest needs to be able to generate sufficient income to pay off the Social Investment Scotland loan within five years. We also want to look at how we can start to open up the forest to local people, visitors and volunteers. There are sites of historical interest, including a fascinating settlement, Knockroy, that we plan to make more accessible with clearer pathways and interpretative signs. We will be looking at ways to engage local children in exploring their forest and using it as a place to learn. We intend to conserve areas of mature native woodland and open up the water courses. The forest has a wide variety of habitats between the planted areas and we will take care to protect these and the wildlife that relies on them. The forest will be zoned with areas reserved for replanting native trees, where plantations have been felled, and areas for replanting commercial tree crops.
In the longer term we want to make the forest financially self-sustaining with a variety of income-generating schemes, potentially leading to the creation of local jobs and offering space for local businesses to develop. Additional income generated by the forest would be invested in other local development projects.
The forest is big – approximately 790 hectares – and, with sensitive and strategic management, we will be able to provide and maintain space for conservation, education and recreational projects alongside commercial developments.
Consultation on the development of the forest will form part of the wider consultation that is planned for early 2016 to update the community plan.
For more information and enquiries about the forest, for example if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or joining the forest working group, please contact Philip Yielder, Community Forester, on firstname.lastname@example.org
With grateful thanks to: