Arkaig Community Forest and Woodland Trust Scotland have been awarded the cash by People’s Postcode Lottery
Fundraising to secure the future of a spectacular Highland pine forest is halfway to its £4.5 million target after receiving a massive donation of £750,000.
The People’s Postcode Lottery awarded the Woodland Trust Scotland and its partner Arkaig Community Forest - a small group of local residents – the sum to help in their bid to buy and restore the 2,500 acre the ancient woodland site near Spean Bridge.
Steeped in history and teeming with iconic wildlife Loch Arkaig pine forest is one of the largest remaining single fragments of ancient Caledonian pinewood in Scotland. The opportunity to buy woodland of international importance on this scale is extremely rare.
It is being sold by Forest Enterprise Scotland under the National Forest Land Scheme which gives community organisations the chance to buy land where this will provide increased public value.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is fantastic to have this support
Gary Servant of Arkaig Community Forest said: “We give heartfelt thanks to all People’s Postcode Lottery players across the country for this magnificent contribution.
“This money will help us secure the ecological regeneration of our forest and the economic regeneration of our community.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is fantastic to have this support.”
The partnership between Woodland Trust Scotland and Arkaig Community Forest has the dual aim of restoring the forest and stimulating sustainable economic activity around it.
The pinewoods have been degraded by historic felling, and planting with non-native conifers which will be slowly removed over the next 20 years.
It is hoped the local economy can benefit from wildlife tourism. There is potential for various businesses using products from the forest. A woodworker has plans to make bespoke furniture from fallen ancient timber.
The Loch Arkaig funding is part of a £2.3m pot which will see cash from players of People’s Postcode Lottery backing the work of The Woodland Trust throughout Scotland, England and Wales.
The money is supporting free tree packs for schools and community groups, Green Tree Schools Awards, Tree of the Year and further programmes still to be announced.
Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Our players like to support initiatives for a better future, so nurturing trees and woodlands as an investment for the next generation is perfect.
“We are delighted that our players are able to support the work of the Woodland Trust across Great Britain, and to back the exciting partnership of conservationists and community at Loch Arkaig.”
Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight added: “This is a fantastic funding commitment from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Wherever players are in Britain they will be supporting tree planting and protection of woods in their own area – while helping secure and restore this venerable old forest at Loch Arkaig."