Two Dumfriesshire woodsmen – and their families – have taken on the management of historic Castle Wood next to Caerlaverock Castle on th e Solway coast, under a Woodlot Licence.
The Scottish Woodlot Association (SWA) has continued its steady expansion of the model with this latest signing of a Woodlot Licence agreement, by Andy Brown, of Lochmaben, and Will Allen, of Annan.
Both men work in forestry and have young families which they intend to get fully involved in the management and running of the Woodlots.
There has been woodland at Caerlaverock for many hundreds of years, during which time it has been managed for timber production. Fine old oaks can still be found in the woodland, with evidence of historic pollarding and coppicing.
Under the terms of the licence Andy and Will will be responsible for managing the woodlot according to a management plan agreed with the Caerlaverock Estate managers, Smiths Gore. This will include felling and extracting timber, which they will then be allowed to process and use or sell themselves, as firewood and sawn timber. In return Andy and Will pay an annual rental for the woodlot.
The Woodlot Licence at Castle Wood highlights the benefits of the model on sensitive sites. The woodland includes areas classed as Ancient Woodland, areas designated as Scheduled Ancient Monument (the environs of the castle), and is very wet in places. Meanwhile the nationally famous Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve lies immediately adjacent and the wood is popular with walkers. The small-scale and personal approach to management offered by Woodlot licence holders is particularly appropriate in this context, and will improve the health and quality of the woodlands to benefit both people and wildlife.
Scottish Woodlot Licences have been inspired by the situation in British Columbia (BC) where the Provincial Government has been running a highly successful woodlot licence programme on Crown land for over 30 years. There, they are seen as an important part of a diverse forestry sector, delivering particular local and community benefits, and as such are being actively promoted and expanded by the Government of BC. The SWA hope in time that woodlot licence tenure will also become an important ‘family forestry’ model in a more diverse Scottish forestry.