Laggan Forest Trust - A History
The initial ideas and the impetus for a true local community forest came from the Laggan Community Association in 1992. Before long there was a significant collaborative effort from the local community, which explored several options and marketed their ideas among key Scottish politicians, government officials and others in influential positions. The ideas, which to many were quite radical, gradually won support and assistance from a wide variety of people and culminated in the personal support of the Secretary of State who asked that the Forestry Commission work in partnership with the Laggan Community in order to explore opportunities and devise a new scheme whereby Community Forests can be established to mutual benefit.
The support from Michael Forsyth led to David Bills, Director General of the Forestry Commission taking a personal Interest in the project. He assigned a team to work out the Partnership details with the Community. The team comprised Syd House (Conservator, Forest Authority), Ian Forshaw (Forest Manager and Environmental Officer for the South of Scotland) and John Risby (District Forester, Lochaber).
This team worked very successfully with Laggan Forest Initiative in the production of a Forest Design Plan for Strathmashie Forest, a joint Business Plan for the partnership, the preparation Project Proposals with objectives and deliverables, a proposed Legal Framework for the Partnership, and a monitoring project with theScottish Office. In April 1998 the FC management of the Partnership transferred from Lochaber FD to Inverness FD.
The Director General of the FC went on record as being prepared to consider all suggestions from the Laggan community. He is also on record that he wanted a successful pilot scheme that can become the basis of other Communities entering partnerships for their local FC forests.
The Laggan Community has therefore achieved an immense break-through on behalf of rural communities. We are now in a position to establish and test a new way of working with the public guardians of our forest heritage that ensures that real benefits not only accrue to the Laggan Community but may also be made accessible to other rural communities.
In September 1998 the informal relationship between the community and the government agency was formalised. Lord Sewel presented the Chairman of the newly formed Laggan Forest Trust and the Director General of the FC with signed copies of the Minute of Agreement which cements the Partnership between the two parties. Also formed at this time was the Laggan Forest Trust Forestry Company, which will operate as the trading company of the Laggan Forest Trust and take over the work of the Laggan Forest Initiative.
Laggan Forest Trust
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