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JOY AS GRANTOWN COMMUNITY TAKES OVER ANAGACH WOODS

The residents of Grantown joined the growing ranks of community landowners when they assumed ownership of the 390-hectare Anagach Woods. A ceremony was held in the town to mark the handover of the woodland to the Anagach Woods Trust, a community group which will help ensure that the historic native woodland is maintained and developed as a community asset.

Councillor Basil Dunlop, Chairman of Anagach Woods Trust, said: "This is a great day for Grantown. It is something we have been trying to achieve for so many years, and it is great that we have managed to secure the funding and are now owners of the wood. We have had such fantastic support and commitment from the local community. We are really thankful to everyone who has invested in this project, both in terms of the time and effort put in by our own team, and the support and guidance we have had from the Scottish Land Fund and the Community Land Unit of Highlands and Islands Enterprise."

The New Opportunities Fund granted £724,125 from its Scottish Land Fund programme towards the purchase of Anagach Woods. It is the second largest from the National Lottery-backed Scottish Land Fund scheme after the £3.5 million funding package behind the community buy-out of Gigha.

David Campbell, Scotland Board Member for the New Opportunities Fund and Chair of the Scottish Land Fund Committee, said: "This is a very important day for the community of Grantown on Spey, marking the moment at which local people take control of a vital community asset. I have no doubt that community ownership of Anagach Woods will greatly expand the environmental, educational and economic potential of the area, as well as ensuring this historically significant resource is maintained and developed for the benefit of future generations."

Assistance of £181,000 has been approved by the Community Land Unit at HIE, helping Anagach Woods Trust complete their funding. HIE chairman Jim Hunter said: "Itís very heartening for the HIE network to have been able to help place such an important resource back in the hands of the local community. The Trustís plans will help ensure this resource is maintained and enhanced for future generations. I am delighted that both the Community Land Unit and Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise were able to contribute to their achievement."

Among the community's plans for development of the 390 hectare woods are the promotion of tourism (particularly 'green tourism'), improving the woods as a resource for environmental and forestry education, the creation of improved facilities for residents and visitors, sustainable timber management and the possible creation of outdoor pursuit courses such as orienteering, riding, cycling and ski trails.

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