This new, 33ha (82 acre) community woodland hugs the banks of the River Almond and Breich Water near Livingston, West Lothian. It is a highly successful example of an innovative land purchase and exchange mechanism for creating woodlands with attractive recreational opportunities.
It was achieved by CSCT buying farmland, then exchanging parts of it with neighbouring farmers. Through this mechanism, CSCT secured more riverside land, while the farmers retained a similar area of good agricultural land to that which they had previously owned. CSCT has since planted tens of thousands of native trees and shrubs on the site, formed a picnic area, and built footpaths and bridleways linking with networks into the surrounding countryside.
A footbridge, two fords and a wildlife pond were built by Army engineers under the Military Aid to the Civilian Community (MACC) programme, and a trial biomass plot was established in conjunction with the Forestry Authority. Riverbank footpaths pass by the "Almond Pools," which have formed in old oil-shale workings and are now a valuable wildfowl habitat listed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Local people were involved in the design and choice of facilities. Community events are held there, and the paths and bridleways are well used by the public. Other contributing organisations included West Lothian Council, Scottish Enterprise Lothian and Edinburgh and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
A leaflet about Easter Breich is available from CSCT. Use the response form to request a free copy.
KINGSHILL COMMUNITY WOODLAND
This 108ha (267-acre) site, at Allanton, near Wishaw, is an excellent example of what can be achieved on former mining land. It occupies the site of the former Kingshill No 1 Pit, which was abandoned in 1975, leaving a two million-cubic-metre bing (spoil heap), lagoons, railway lines, under-used open land and drainage problems.
The first step was the commercial extraction of coal residues from the bing, enabling the rest of the material to be spread over 62ha of the site. Motherwell District Council bought the site from British Coal in 1989, and a Trust was set up to enable its reclamation, partly funded by the coal operators. (Ownership has since passed to North Lanarkshire Council).
The project partners aimed to make something of recreational, landscape and nature conservation value, as well as a sustainable woodland. They sought to preserve and enhance valuable features already present, such as a blanket bog, the former settling lagoons with emerging plant species, marshy grassland, and self-seeded birch scrub and Scots pine woodland, while adding extensive new woodland and grassland areas.
Sewage cake was ploughed into the bing material to add nutrients before it was planted with Scots and lodgepole pine, Japanese larch, wild cherry, sallow, grey willow, grey, Italian and red alder, and hawthorn and blackthorn trees. Some open areas were sown with grasses and wildflowers to encourage a diversity of habitats and ground flora and provide visual amenity, while others were allowed to regenerate naturally. Eight kilometres (5 miles) of waymarked footpaths were built. The project is managed by CSCT, and other contributing partners include the Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire, British Coal and Alexander Russell plc. WGS grants supported the woodland planting, local people were consulted about the plans, and school pupils held tree-planting events.