Treat the woods like a village hall

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Forestry Commission Scotland is encouraging local residents, schools, clubs, community groups and businesses to use Nethercroy and Barrhill Woods as an outdoor venue.

Whether it is for exercise, relaxation, recreation, running a weekly club, establishing a bespoke project or hosting your own event, the Commission is keen for the area to be used by local people.

Community ranger Andy Gallacher said: “There are so many benefits from being outside in greenspace – it naturally helps reduce stress, gives you more energy, makes your worries feel smaller and activities like walking and cycling can boost your self-esteem, mood and energy levels.

“That’s why we want to encourage local people to think of Nethercroy and Barrhill Woods as another venue, as they would a community centre, gym or church hall.

“The area is open to people from all abilities and backgrounds to go and explore, get more active, live a healthier life, meet new people and try new things.

“For kids it’s one big playground of fun things to do – perfect for developing orienteering skills, building a den, riding a bike or learning about the natural environment.

“We’re also open to approaches from schools or community groups, for example, if they need a strip of land to start up a project, this is something that we are open to discussing, and, where we can, facilitating. We can also help signpost groups to available funding opportunities to apply for outdoor equipment.”

The Commission maintains the woodland, plant news trees, works with local groups and organises regular events, “but it’s the community that brings the woodland to life, by using it,” said Andy.

He continued: “All we ask is that local people look after the woodland by taking litter home with them or using the bins on site. Also, if you’re planning an event with more than 20 people, please get in touch to let us know. That way we’ll make sure the site isn’t being used by other groups on the same day.”

Contact Forestry Commission Scotland’s local office to discuss ideas for developing local projects: Scottish Lowlands Forest District, telephone 01555 660190 or email scottishlowlands@forestry.gov.uk

The Commission took over the ownership of the Croy Hill area seven years ago.