Highland community group appeals to ethical investors with eco-tourism share offer

Highland community group appeals to ethical investors with eco-tourism share offer

Glengarry Community Woodlands stakeholders standing on footbridge
Alan Robertson

A pioneering community group in Glengarry in the Scottish Highlands has this week launched a bid to raise £250,000 to fund Glengarry Forest Cabins (GFC), a sustainable new eco-tourism destination in the area.

The group has been supported by Community Shares Scotland (CSS) and has set up Glengarry Community Benefit Society (GCBS) to run the eco-tourism business. The community share offer is now available on the UK’s positive investing platform Ethex and is looking to raise funds to build a development of up to 6 off-grid forest cabins and a shared amenity building, using larch from the community woodland.

By using the free funded support from Community Shares Scotland, Glengarry Community Benefit Society has ensured that their community share offer meets national best practice standards. 

Glengarry Forest Cabins will have a low carbon footprint and will be sensitively sited and secluded within the woodland, allowing visitors a chance to unplug and reconnect back with nature. Visitors will need to reach the cabins on foot after a brief walk into the forest, offering a genuine off-grid forest experience in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

The cabins will create new jobs and all the profits generated will be used to fund the charitable activities of Glengarry Community Woodlands (GCW), including a forest school, woodfuel business, the management of the woodland and the purchasing of land for community benefit. Further long term projects of GCW  include the development of develop much-needed affordable housing and woodland crofts at Ardochy on the shores of Loch Garry.

Ross Lynn from Glengarry Community Benefit Society said;

“Like many rural communities in Scotland, Glengarry is fragile and faces a number of significant challenges, ranging from access to affordable housing and employment opportunities to managing tourism in a sustainable way. The community share offer with Glengarry Forest Cabins will appeal to those who want to invest in a project which has environmental and social sustainability at its heart. This is also an excellent example of empowered communities developing innovative ways of addressing local issues and ensuring they have a sustainable future.”

Investment in Glengarry Forest Cabins starts at £500 (£25 for people living in the local community). Each investor will become a member of Glengarry Community Benefit Society and will have a say in how the forest cabin business is run. Residents of Glengarry will always make up a majority of members and all members receive an equal vote regardless of the scale of their investment.​ They will also be eligible to be elected to the board where they can help to set the strategic direction of the business.

Investors can expect a potential annual return of 4% on their investment in the share offer while knowing that their money is helping to support an environmentally conscious community-run charity to manage land in a way that addresses its own needs.

More details about the share offer can be found at https://www.ethex.org.uk/invest/glengarry.

CSS is a national organisation based in Edinburgh and was launched in May 2014. It exists to raise awareness of the community shares model and support communities who wish to raise money this way. Community shares are a way for people to invest in what matters to them. Community members buy shares in local enterprises providing goods and services that meet local needs. In turn, the enterprise is controlled and governed by the community it serves.

CSS is delivered by the Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) and is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Morven Lyon, CSS Programme Manager said;

“Glengarry Community Benefit Society (GCBS) joins a growing number of communities across Scotland using community shares to kickstart pioneering, sustainable community led businesses. It is inspiring to see the group demonstrate what can be achieved through community ownership and in particular how community-owned land can be managed and developed to provide wider benefit to the local community. It’s been a fantastic project for the Community Shares Scotland team to work on and we’re already looking forward to visiting the cabins when they’re up and running.”

Lisa Ashford CEO of Ethex said;

“We are very excited to bring investors the opportunity to be a part of this pioneering community enterprise. By investing to help fund the development of the forest cabins, they will also be supporting the community-ownership model, affordable homes, biodiversity and helping create a stronger community in Glengarry.”

More information about Ethex can be found here