The Laggan Forest Trust
The AGM of the Trust was held in person on Wednesday 31st May 2023 at the Laggan Wolftrax centre. Member Directors of the Trust proposed are Angus Armstrong, Michael Sharp, Mignonne Khazaka & David Narro with Colin Morgan proposed to be a co-opted director.
Details of the agenda and annual report of both the Forest Trust and its trading company subsidary will be posted on the Forest Trust website at www.lagganforest.com in the About Us tab and go to meetings page.
History of the Trust
The initial ideas and impetus for a local community forest came from the Laggan Community Association in 1992. The genesis for the idea was borne out of a desire to protect and preserve local forestry employment, which had declined substantially in the 80’s with the consequent risk to community sustainability. Before long, there was a significant collaborative effort from the local community, which explored several options and presented their ideas to key Scottish politicians and government officials. 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. He directed that the Forestry Commission work in partnership with the Community in order to explore opportunities and devise a new scheme whereby Community Forests can be established to mutual benefit.
The Forestry Commission team who worked out the Partnership details with the Laggan Community comprised Syd House (Conservator, Forest Authority), Ian Forshaw (Forest Manager and Environmental Officer for the South of Scotland) and John Risby (District Forester, Lochaber). They worked successfully with the Laggan Forest Initiative (LFI) to produce a Forest Design Plan, a joint business plan for Strathmashie Forest, and a proposed Legal Framework for a future Partnership.
Forestry Commission recorded that the successful pilot scheme with LFI was to become the template for other Communities entering partnerships for their local FC forests. As a result, the Laggan Community achieved a significant break-through on behalf of all rural communities in Scotland. The agreements made paved the way to test new ways of working with the public guardians of our forest heritage, which aimed to ensure that real benefits not only accrued to the Laggan Community but was also made accessible to other rural communities.
So, in September 1998, some 6 years after the initial idea was floated, 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, cementing the Partnership between the two groups.
That agreement was renewed in 2004 for a period of 25 years with a 5 year review mechanism in place. At the same time the Laggan Forest Trust Forestry Company was formed to operate as the trading arm of the Laggan Forest Trust.
Whilst the original idea of the Community had been to buy all of the Strathmashie Forest, the acquisition cost was prohibitive but has been re-explored on 2 more occasions since 1998. In 2007, 3 small parcels of Forestry Land were acquired for community management. The acquisition of the entire forest remains a long- term aspiration of the community.
In 2004, Forest Enterprise established the Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Bike trails within one part of Strathmashie Forest (Achduchil) and this became a significant visitor destination for, what was then, a new sport. Further trail investment in later years and the establishment of a permanent centre in 2015 by the Trust via a grant provided by the Cairngorms National Park Authority has generated diversity in local economic development and local employment. The centre’s café and shower facilities are proving popular with biking enthusiasts and visitors to the forest trails. The Forest itself, planted out in the 60s and 70s, is being commercially managed and felled by Forestry Commission with little intervention presently from the Laggan Forest Trust
The Laggan Forest Trust
Strathmashie PH20 1BU