What has WSWG been doing this month?
Some of the group tubed naturally regenerating oak and rowan saplings and pruned back overhanging birch, broom and other vegetation on the core path through the east end of the wood. As part of WSWG’s ongoing mission to make the surface more comfortable for walking, running and wheeling, others raked up some more of the debris left over on the east-west core path from last winter’s major gorse clearance exercise by FLS. The volunteers also made great inroads on much needed gorse cutting to open up a section of path towards the north-east boundary which has not been passable for several years. And last but not least, everyone had an opportunity to meet some of the smaller inhabitants of Taymount Wood when they helped in some insect survey work. A big thank you to this lovely group of people whom we would love to come back and help another time if they wish! And thank you to Aviva for having such a great volunteering scheme for their employees. If you look closely enough, we even managed to find some late flowering dandelions in Aviva’s corporate yellow for the welly-boot photo above.
Another widespread yellow flower in Taymount Wood at the moment is shown in the photo on the left. We think it might be autumn hawkbit. Can any botanical specialists out there confirm or correct that identification please?
The other big bit of news is that on 3 October the Revised CATS Proposal and Business Plan was submitted! In it, the WSWG Project has been scaled down to deliver the phased approach and smaller core project we agreed with Forestry and Land Scotland earlier in the year for delivering our Community Wellbeing and Resilience Vision. This smaller Wildwood Project sets out the baseline programme through which WSWG will deliver our immediate priorities for Taymount Wood in a way which is essentially self-sustaining financially beyond an initial injection of 2-year start-up funding. We have kept our bigger ideas separate, describing these medium and long term priorities as “Horizon 1, 2 and 3 Projects” to be progressed if wished once the Wildwood Project is up and running, as and when funding and other required operational resources become available. On 17 October, two representatives of FLS and two from the CATS Panel joined members of the WSWG Board and Wildwood Steering Group for a site visit at Taymount Wood and sit-down discussion at Kinclaven Church Hall to go through the revised submission. We will hear by the end of October whether WSWG will be invited to submit an offer to purchase Taymount Wood under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme on the basis of our Revised Proposal.
We will shortly be posting all the related documentation on the WSWG website, but in the meantime, below is a very brief summary of the Wildwood Project. We’d love to hear what you think. Thank you also very much to the Community Ownership Support Service and numerous contacts through P&K Third Sector Interface who have advised WSWG during 2023.
Everything in the Wildwood Project is still founded on delivering Community Wellbeing and Resilience through managing the wood for climate and biodiversity and diversifying its uses for wide-ranging community benefit as illustrated in our Window on the Woods Vision.
Reminder: The agreed phased approach to acquisition means that whilst WSWG is seeking to purchase Taymount Wood first, we will have an option to buy Five Mile Wood within the following five years during which time FLS will not put Five Mile Wood on the open market.
THE WILDWOOD PROJECT – Taymount Wood
Ecoforestry for the Planet:
- Woodland Management Plan for Nature Recovery (155ha)
– Living Forest – 80% of total woodland area including 6 Nature Recovery Zones
– Sustainable timber under LISS – 20% of total woodland area
Forest Diversification for People:
- Year-Round Activities Programmes and budgets
– themed around the 6 categories in the WSWG Window on the Woods Vision
– developed through staff-supported Community Working Group (CWGs, rising from one or two groups initially (eg Paths and Nature Group and Community Wellbeing Group) to prospectively a group for each theme.
- Access and information improvements
– Name boards, notice boards, signage, seats, picnic benches, maintenance of path network, MiDAS Community Transport Project Phase 1 and WSWG Travel Plan, Mini-Shieling, compost toilet, and minor car park upgrade and maintenance.
- Employment: 3 paid roles
– Forestry, Ecology and Site Manager (3 days per week)
– Living Forest Enterprise Developer (1 day per week)
– Office Manager/Fundraiser (1 day per week)
- Income generation
Woodland Enterprises: Community Enterprises:
– Living Forest enterprises – CWG Pop-up enterprises
– Sustainable timber enterprise – Ecotourism enterprise: Burmieston in the Trees
On 25 and 27 September we had an excellent evening talk and morning guided walk on the history of Five Mile and Taymount Woods by Christopher Dingwall organised jointly by West Stormont Historical Society and WSWG. Around 80 people attended the talk in Stanley Village Hall, an excellent turnout for both organisations, with many people members of both. A much smaller band ventured out into the woods for the walk two days later but it was a fascinating tour of Taymount Wood chatting about its past, present and future, environmentally and culturally and, what’s more, we made it back before the rain too. Thank you so much to Christopher for his interest in and support for the WSWG Project and the superb research he has done for us. It will be wonderful to see what the WSWG Culture and Creativity and Life-Long Learning programmes lead to in relation to the past history and future story of the woods. Thank you also to West Stormont Woodland Group for teaming up with WSWG for this excellent joint event.
In the last update, we mentioned that Growbiz had offered WSWG free access to our own on-line Cloudroom which we intend to use as a communication and networking space for the Wildwood Steering Group going forward. On 5 October, we had an introductory training session with Corrie Watson of Growbiz and so will be developing our Cloudroom activity over the coming months. Many thanks to Growbiz for this very valuable resource for our project.
Word of the Month
Nemophilist: someone who loves forests, woods or woodland scenery, or someone who often visits them.
What’s coming up next?
On 23 October, the CATS Panel meets to determine their recommendation to FLS with notification of the decision to WSWG by 31 October. If successful, we will be liaising immediately thereafter with Scottish Land Fund for Stage 2 Funding towards acquisition and start-up costs. We can then step up the fundraising campaign for the balance required, which we are pleased to say has already resulted in a significant offer in principle towards the acquisition of Taymount Wood from a potential donor and an encouraging invitation from another source to submit an application for start-up costs.
WSWG AGM: 7pm Tuesday 28 November 2023 in Stanley Village Hall. Formal notification will be going out to all WSWG Members in a few weeks time.