Morvern Community Woodlands bid backed by £1m award from Scottish Land Fund
The three-year-long campaign to take Morvern Community Woodlands (MWC) into community ownership has boosted by a £1 million award from the Scottish Land Fund.
MCW has now launched a campaign to raise the remaining £1.7m needed to enable it to buy the 6,000-acre Killundine Estate
The estate is currently owned by Roderick and Althea Lauder, but has no residents and five unoccupied homes on the site which overlooks the Sound of Mull.
MCW wants to fight back against population decline in what is one of the most remote parts of Scotland and attract more young people to live there.
Lochaline Primary School, which in December became the first school in the Highlands – and only the seventh in Scotland – to be rated “excellent” by Education Scotland, has just 16 pupils, having fallen from 36 in 1998.
Plans to boost population numbers include creating new crofts and jobs and building affordable housing, as well as harvesting timber, restoring estate buildings, regenerating native woodland and restoring peatlands.
Last year, Highlands and Islands Enterprise awarded MCW £6,000 to conduct an economic impact assessment after registering an interest in the estate under the community right to buy legislation.
Veronique Walraven, MCW chairman, said: “Morvern is a fragile community with an ageing population and a falling school roll. Among other things, our plans for Killundine will bring business and housing prospects for young families. We now need to raise the additional capital of £1.7m so the people of Morvern, and the West Highlands more widely, can benefit from the opportunities that this presents.”
Alasdair Firth, who has led the project for MCW, added: “Post-COVID, this grant will provide a boost to both the economy and the environment. We are delighted to be one step closer to being able to take this forward.”
The award was welcomed by Roseanna Cunningham, cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, who said: “I am pleased that Morvern Community Woodlands have secured this significant funding and hope it will help the project take great steps towards fulfilling its ambition to create jobs and housing for the local community, restoring peatland and protecting the natural environment within the Killundine Estate.”
John Watt, Scottish Land Fund committee chairman, added: “Awards to fragile communities such as Morvern give local people the opportunity to take ownership of the assets on their doorstep and use them in ways that will provide benefits for future generations.”