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ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland

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Community woodlands and NTFPs

What are community woodlands?

Community woodlands, as the name suggests, are woods that are controlled by a local community. This is usually done through a community woodland group. The woodland may be leased or owned by the group, or managed in partnership with another organisation. Such woodlands can provide economic as well as social, environmental and amenity benefits for local communities.

According to Reforesting Scotland, by the summer of 2002 there were 51 community woodlands in Scotland meeting the following criteria:

  • The woodland was geographically defined.
  • A significant proportion of the local population was represented in the group.
  • The majority of the members and the board are from the local community.

The community woodland movement has continued to grow: there is a thriving Community Woodlands Association, formed in 2003, and according to their figures there are now over 200 community woodland groups across Scotland.

 

Wooplaw Community Woodland

This 22.5 ha Borders wood was Scotland's first fully community-owned woodland, established in 1987. There are over 100 paid up members, and the group organises a wide range of activities including guided walks, tree planting, fungal forays, green woodworking and woodland scuplture. They also provide educational materials for local schools.

Felling oak
The relevance of NTFPs

Some community woodland groups hope to derive economic benefits from their woodlands. This could potentially be facilitated by the management and marketing of appropriate non-timber forest products.

Many community woodland groups are focused on providing a healthy and pleasant environment for local people and wildlife, and a resource for strengthening people's relationship with nature. NTFPs can also make positive contributions in this context:

  • Enjoyable, productive and educational activities in the woods (gathering).
  • Useful products (food, art & craft materials, medicines etc.)

Example: Cree Valley Community Woodland