A Dronley Community Woodland Manager has been appointed on a 2 year contract and has taken up the post from 15th July.
In May an application for Felling Permission was made to Scottish Forestry to clear all the fallen trees along the north side of the wood and the standing spruce in the northeast corner, which continue to fall with every gale. This permission may take another 2 weeks. A forestry contractor will then be employed to remove the trees to a log stack near the car park from where lorries can get easy access to load up and remove the timber without the need to close access to the wood for visitors.
The work of constructing a path for about 800m along the north side and as far as the wayleave will follow this. Lay bys with seating and picnic sites will be included in the project.
When finished there will be great opportunity for anyone to come and join work parties which we hope to convene on a regular basis – some of the initial tasks will be to install benches, tables and notice boards and make them secure.
Purchasing equipment for our volunteers and storage facilities to keep everything will be a priority in the next few months. For this we will need a lot more money and applications are being prepared for various funders. However, we hope all users will be generous and make donations to our organisation. This can now be done through our website.
A Forest School has been running from a site in the wood since mid May with great success. The 13 (or more) primary age children taking part are enjoying the experience.
UPDATE 11 AUGUST 2018
The 2 applications we made this year have met with complete success: –
1. Our request to Forest Enterprise to sell Dronley Wood to us was agreed to by them on 4th June. FE were satisfied that we had a mandate from the community for the transfer of the wood to community ownership in order to secure its future and how it would be used for the benefit of the community and all visitors. Also, our business plan and feasibility study set out a realistic and well thought through vision for future management of the Dronley Wood.
2. On 11th August the Scottish Land Fund agreed to our request for all the money to purchase the wood and pay for a woodland manager to work part time for us in the 1st 2 years of ownership. This is really great news as it allows us now to concentrate on fund raising for the projects listed in our business plan for the 1st 3 years
FE requires us to make a legal offer to them, with all the money available for the transfer, by 4th December. The money is now available so we will be able to arrange the transfer much sooner. Our solicitor will handle the legal side of the transfer including receiving the money and will make the legal offer in the near future.
We have received a tremendous response from residents of the community to become members ñ over 150 applications to date. These will be ratified by the board in due course and a membership roll created for both normal membership (16 years +) and junior membership (12 to 15 years).
At Sports Day on 25th August we will have a display in a big tent on the playing field and trustees on hand to answer questions and receive more applications for membership. We hope for a lot of visits and enquiries.
Our first AGM will be held at 7pm on 13th September in the village hall. This is an open meeting where we would hope to have a large attendance especially from members.
A celebration party to be held in the wood will be organised for this autumn.
Dronley Wood Update 23 March 2018
Our Consultant, Duncan Bryden, carried out a Feasibility Study and Business Plan and produced a Feasibility Study and Business Plan Summary if the main document is too long winded for you. These are key documents to submitting an application to the Forestry Commission (FCS) under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS). The trustees have now completed the application form which makes our case for the transfer of the woodland to our community and submitted it to FCS. An independent panel will review our application at the end of April, their decision based on us delivering substantive community benefit by owning the woodland. We are confident that we can deliver benefits to the community by making improvements in the wood without compromising the peace and tranquility the wood offers at present.
New and improved paths will open up more areas of the wood for everyone to enjoy, even those using pushchairs or wheelchairs. Building an accessible wooden off-grid building for recreational and educational activities, a composting toilet and a picnic area are all in our 5 year plan. We hope to employ a part-time woodland manager, to manage the initial work as well as supervising volunteer work teams. We plan to fundraise to employ this person for at least two years.
The CATS application validation date is 19 March 2018. The public have until 18 April to consider the application and, if they wish, make representation to: –
Community Asset Transfer Manager
Forest Enterprise Scotland
231 Corstorphine Road
The independent panel will meet at the end of April to evaluate our application and make recommendation to the FCS Chief Officer, who will decide to accept our offer, or not.
We are hopeful of success and feel confident that with the help and support of the community, we can deliver our modest project – to have a wood the community can be proud of.
The Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS) application has now been submitted and is open to comments from the public:
You can comment via email to Forest Commission Scotland here:
Local support is vital if we are to save Dronley Wood for the future. We have already received some excellent offers from local residents.
1. From: “Gillian Tuddenham” on May 04, 2017
Subject: Forest School
I’m glad I was able to attend part of this evenings meeting but sorry I had to leave early, unfortunately I didn’t have a babysitter this evening. I was really interested to hear about what was happening and how the woods may be best utilised.
As I mentioned briefly at the meeting I would be keen to develop some sort of ‘forest school’ or at least a kids forest group to start with and would be happy to perhaps form a working group to look at that side of things. My son is 5 and currently attends Red Squirrel nursery in Liff where they have an excellent forest school which he has benefited tremendously from. He is due to start p1 at Auchterhouse in August and I am quite keen to see it work within the school but I have not approached them yet.
My day job is anaesthetist at Ninewells but I have a reasonable background of youth work in the outdoors including expeditions in uk and overseas, d of e and scouts. The younger kids are new to me but I plan to do the forest school training in October and have the support of my neighbour (Elizabeth Denyer who is a primary school teacher and forest school leader already).
I have been extensively involved (up to Board level and chairing various committees) in a Cumbrian youth exploration group charity up until 2014 so am very aware of the hard work and effort that is required to make these things work. As I am now based locally I am no longer involved with this I have time to dedicate to an enterprise like this.
I hope to get to the next meeting (ideally without the 5 year old) but would also be happy to meet or chat about things further in the meantime.
Thanks for all the hard work that has clearly already taken place.
Feel free to forward this e mail to whoever is most appropriate.
Halfway Up, The Brae, Auchterhouse
- From: Daryl Shute on 18 May 2017
Subject: Re: Gruffalo Trail – Official Status
Thanks for getting in touch.
Your email has been passed to us as we own branding, merchandising and audio-visual rights for the Gruffalo, and particularly we manage the relationship with Forestry Commission England who run our Gruffalo trails.
We’d be happy to support your proposed trail and provide materials and support to enable it’s development. We don’t often offer this to individual sites as they’re quite complex projects to manage, but as you have such a direct contact with character on this occasion I’d be happy to help.
We don’t act on behalf of Julia Donaldson, although we work very closely together, so I’m offering The Gruffalo’s support and not hers directly.
Please let me know what further you might need at this stage.
Thanks and best wishes,
3.From Craig Simpson on 19 June 2017
Subject: Cubs – Scouts
I am writing as the cub leader of the Muirhead cub scouts in support of maintenance of Dronley Woods as a wooded recreational area.
We try and give our cub scouts experience of the wider environment close to home. We utilise Backmuir Woods as it is very close to the cub hut. But we also have trips to the Roundy in Birkhill, and Lundie Crags area for many different types of outdoor activities including simple walks, geocaching, BBQs, compass work and wide games. Dronley wood is also one of these areas we utilise and would like to have this kept. It is a nicely contained wooded area with lots of wildlife. It is flat and has few paths which means it is great to allow kids the chance to run around without getting lost.
If you would like some more information from me, please let me know.
4.From Auchterhouse Community Council on 30 Aug 2017
I am writing on behalf of the Auchterhouse Community Council to express our support for the application from Dronley Community Woodland to acquire Dronley Wood from Forest Enterprise Scotland.
When the proposed sale of the wood was raised at our Council meeting on 16th February this year, there was a unanimous wish from all councillors and the 24 members of the public present to pursue a CAT. This continues to be the strong sentiment of our council.
The wood has been a valuable amenity for folk in our area for many years now and to lose it in a private sale would be unthinkable. The support given to your initiative to acquire the wood is obviously wide spread as is evidenced by the large number who visited the exhibition in the village hall on the 8th June and contributed many ideas for improvement and development of the area.
Updates have been given at each of our council meetings since February and will continue to be eagerly awaited in the future. We feel a successful acquisition will provide important investment in the local community and economy, with the possibility of additional employment, education opportunities and the development of woodcraft skills for enthusiasts, while continuing to be a popular and well used local amenity.
In anticipation that this venture is successful, we look forward to working in partnership with DCW and supporting the future plans in any way that we can.
G Stewart, Secretary, Auchterhouse Community Council
There is real progress in this ambitious project. We heard in early October that we were successful in gaining Stage 1 funding from the Scottish Land Fund to appoint and fund a consultant to prepare a business plan. The consultant we have chosen is Duncan Bryden Associates, based in Tomatin, with business partner Graeme Scott who will be looking at the financial viability of our proposed plans.
The Trustees have met twice already with the consultants and several walks round the wood have given them a good feel for the various ideas put forward by the community. We hope to have the business plan (including the forest management plan) completed by early December.
The second ideas-gathering opportunity at the Sports Day in August was extremely useful in adding to the ideas already put forward by the public in June and we have come up with provisional priorities for the first five years to include in the business plan. Engaging with you all in the community is hugely important. If you were unable to make either of these dates, please do not hesitate to let us have your thought on how the wood should be developed for both nature and people. Clearing and re-instating lost paths is a priority for the business plan as is improving the hard surfaced track to improve access for all. The trees need a good deal of thinning in places and removal of dead trees without disturbing crucial wildlife habitats. We haven’t proposed substantial clear-felling and hope to avoid it as much as possible. Hopefully the timber can be a resource for the community to provide some income for the ongoing work.
From among the popular priorities suggested for the woodland we have initially suggested a wooden, off- grid, multi purpose building with an outdoor classroom, play area, composting toilet and storage area, the Forest School, the Gruffalo Trail and a picnic area with tables. We know how much the wood is used by dog walkers and we are still contemplating the pros and cons of dog waste bins.
As we move towards the Community Asset Transfer application (to demonstrate we are well enough organised to buy and manage the wood) followed by the application to purchase the wood through a Stage 2 grant from the Scottish Land Fund, we need to focus on what funds we, as a community, can raise to complement the Stage 2 funding we are hoping to get. The Scottish Land Fund only provides an average of 80% of the needed capital funding for successful applications. We need to demonstrate the commitment and support of the community in a tangible way as well as seeking
funding for the balance elsewhere from Trusts etc. Any funding ideas, offers of fundraising help, or donations at this crucial stage will be a very valuable contribution. The purchase of the wood is for the benefit of the community so it does need the whole community to engage wherever possible.
We’ll keep you posted and there will be further opportunity for consultation and feedback from you.
Chair of Dronley Community Woodland
Our Dronley Community Woodland acquisition is moving ahead fast and attracting very favourable comment. Here are some of the letters of support we have received, all showing a real enthusiasm for our project.
Graeme Dey, MSP South Angus 13 November 2017 wrote:
“I want to welcome the efforts of Dronley Community Woodland to secure Dronley Wood under Community Asset Transfer. As the depute convener of the RACCE Committee in the last parliament I played a part in developing the Community Empowerment and Land Reform Acts. I did so, excited at the prospect of what such legislation could do for community ownership.
“As the MSP for Angus South I am similarly excited to see this proposal now come forward, seeking to take advantage of the legislation around community ownership, within my own constituency. And as the convener of the ECCLR Committee I of course take particular interest in the aspiration of the SCIOP to advance “environmental protection and improvement.’’ This is a wonderful project and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”
Councillor Beth Whiteside, Angus Council Ward 4 Monifieth & Sidlaw 8 November 2017 wrote;
“I am delighted to add my support for the proposed Community Asset Transfer of Dronley Wood. It’s a great opportunity and an ambitious project, but I was really impressed with the enthusiasm for the project which I witnessed at the recent Community Council meeting. There is already a wealth of ideas for the future of the woods and a real desire to take the project forward. Who better to make decisions about the local area than those who live there? I wish the project every success and look forward to seeing it progress for the benefit of everyone in the community. Good luck!”
Councillor Sheila Hands, Angus Council Ward 4 Monifieth & Sidlaw 15 November 2017 wrote:
“As a Local Elected Member, I would be delighted to endorse the Dronley Community Wood Group’s efforts in their application for a community asset transfer of the woods from the Forestry Commission. This is a valued local wood with a huge potential to support future educational activities or sustainable environmental projects, eco-friendly tourism activities in addition to remaining a much-valued community resource. I am happy to support the proposed CAT and the efforts of the DWC Group to secure community use for the future. It would be a tragedy to lose such an asset to private ownership and potential commercialisation.
Councillor Ben Lawrie Angus Council Ward 4 Monifieth & Sidlaw, 22 November 2017 wrote:
“I’m fully supportive of the Auchterhouse community’s buy out of Dronley Wood.”
Carol Evans Director (Scotland) Woodland Trust, wrote
“The Woodland Trust welcome the efforts of Dronley Community Woodland to secure Dronley Wood under the Community Asset Transfer scheme and to develop a sustainable native woodland legacy.
“The Woodland Trust have a site nearby at Backmuir Woods and we would be pleased to enter into a dialogue with DCW about future help and advice the Woodland Trust might be able to provide, especially on native woodland creation and biodiversity enhancement. We wish you every success with the acquisition and look forward to hearing from you.”
Dronley Community Woodland SCIO is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), Registered Number SC 047582, formed in 2017 in order to save Dronley Wood for the Community.
Dronley Wood is a glorious area of mature mixed woodland situated midway between the bustle of Dundee and the heathery hillsides of the Sidlaws. It sits on a low ridge in rolling Angus farmland and is just to the East of the B954 road from Dundee to Newtyle. The Wood is laced with a network of paths which lead from the public car park.
The Wood’s gnarled Scots Pines are home to a lively community of red squirrels and a wide range of birds, mammals, plants and fungi can all be seen. Dronley Wood also commands magnificent views; to the West to the Sidlaws and to the East out over the Firth of Tay to the North Sea.
Dronley Community Woodland Charitable Objectives are: –
1. To manage and improve Dronley Community Woodland for the benefit of the “Community” and wildlife through the promotion of the principles of sustainable development of Scotland’s natural environment including social and economic development.
2. To inspire and educate the “Community” about the biodiversity and protected species of the woodland. To facilitate and encourage the use of Dronley Community Woodland for educational purposes, including raising awareness of the environment, culture and history of the woodland.
3. To promote the development and civic amenity of the “Community” by providing workspace and land to encourage skills development, training and employment opportunities.
4. To provide and facilitate greater opportunities for recreational activities (both individual or group) which aim to contribute to the physical mental and social health of the “Community” and other users of Dronley Community Woodland.
Forest Enterprise Scotland’s Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS) for Scotland’s National Forest Estate provides assistance for communities so that transfer rights can be delivered for communities covered in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
Dronley Community Woodland SCIO is engaged in the process of applying for support under this very welcome scheme.