New funding for Woodland Crofts
The Woodland Crofts Partnership has recently been awarded £33,000 over two years to support and promote the development of woodland crofts.
The announcement was made by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP, when he attended the Nairn Show.
A woodland croft is a registered croft with sufficient tree cover to be considered woodland under forestry policies. The term is primarily a descriptive one, as in legal terms a woodland croft is a croft like any other. Nevertheless, it is helpful to be able to distinguish between woodland crofts and other forms of crofting and indeed forestry.
The funding will be used to continue and expand the Partnership’s work, with a particular emphasis on supporting the creation of new woodland crofts, as demand for them currently far outstrips the number available. It will also be used to help the Partnership investigate and move towards a self-funding model of operation, securing its future.
The Woodland Crofts Partnership comprises the Scottish Crofting Federation, the Community Woodlands Association, the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) and Woodland Trust Scotland, who are currently working together under a Memorandum of Understanding. The four partners encompass all the key aspects of woodland crofting, and the inclusion of HSCHT who lead and administer the Partnership, serves to underline the important role affordable access to housing has in crofting today.
Jamie McIntyre, of the Woodland Crofts Partnership, commented:
"This is fantastic news and we are very grateful to Mr Ewing and the Scottish Government. The funding will allow us to take a strategic approach to woodland crofts development over the next couple of years, and at the same time build on the momentum that is undoubtedly behind them just now.
"Woodland crofting is a model that can provide answers to many of today’s pressing issues: woodland expansion, sustainable forest management, food & fuel production, wider rural development, and affordable housing, and all through a low-carbon approach"
Woodland crofts, like crofts generally, can be found across the Highlands and Islands both owner-occupied and tenanted. The latter have been created by both private and community owners, with interest now also developing among NGO landowners.
The first community-owned woodland crofts were established on Mull in 2012 by the North West Mull Community Woodland Company, and Argyll has proved to be something of a hotbed for them with several more either already established or in development.
The Partnership maintains a Register of Interest via its website which allows those interested in a woodland croft to be recorded. This helps highlight overall demand, and enables individuals to be alerted when crofts become available in their preferred areas.