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Sale of forest to Dunnet trust hailed as 'excellent news'


By Gordon Calder

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Dunnet Forest is currently managed by the community trust under a lease from Scottish Natural Heritage. Picture: DGS
Dunnet Forest is currently managed by the community trust under a lease from Scottish Natural Heritage. Picture: DGS

A DECISION to sell Dunnet Forest to a local trust has been described as excellent news and is expected to result in "new initiatives and public benefits".

It follows a community asset transfer agreement between Dunnet Forestry Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Dunnet Forest – a popular recreational area with a network of sheltered forest footpaths – is currently managed by the community trust under a lease from SNH. The trust manages the site for public recreation, restoring natural habitats and selling firewood.

Covering around 105 acres, the area is part of the Dunnet Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The trust is now making plans for the five-year period from 2020-25. Under the proposed plan, woodland enhancement will continue to be a key activity.

The trust is also committed to visitor improvements, including providing all-abilities access, a children’s play area, vegetable plots and a small-scale sawmill.

Woodland enhancement will continue to be a key activity for Dunnet Forestry Trust. Picture: DGS
Woodland enhancement will continue to be a key activity for Dunnet Forestry Trust. Picture: DGS

David Glass, vice-chairman of Dunnet Forestry Trust, said: "We are all absolutely delighted that our asset transfer request has been agreed by SNH’s board and thank them for the speed and efficiency with which they assessed our request.

"We look forward to taking ownership of this important community asset in Caithness."

Sally Thomas, SNH’s director of people and nature, said: "This agreement is excellent news, and SNH is really pleased to sell the land to the Dunnet Forestry Trust.

"The trust has put a lot of work into managing the forest under a lease agreement with us for the last 18 years. We believe that community ownership will allow them to increase their work in the forest, leading to many new initiatives and public benefits."

Dunnet Forestry Trust has applied for a grant under the Scottish Land Fund to buy the land from SNH. The trust has passed the first stage, which means it has been judged as an eligible project, and is now awaiting word on the stage two application.


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