Whilst there were already a handful of woodland crofts in existence (see Q4 on the ‘About‘ page), the Crofting Reform Act of 2007 was a major milestone, in allowing for the creation of new crofts.
First to take up this opportunity to create a croft from existing woodland – and thus create a new woodland croft – was farmer and forester Reay Clarke of Edderton, who established one on his land for a tenant.
However, communties have long been attracted to the model on account of the local benefits they can provide, and many were also working on plans to create woodland crofts. Typically these involved woodland being purchased under the National Forest Land Scheme, especially after 2008 when the Scheme was amended to explicitly recognise woodland crofts.
The first community woodland crofts were subsequently created by the North West Mull Community Woodland Company, in 2012, and the first tenants are now on site. Following closely behind, woodland crofts are planned for Kifinan Community Forest & Stronafion Forest (both in Cowal), and Kirkton Woodland in Lochcarron. They are also being considered in Tormore Forest (Skye), Fourpenny Wood, (Embo), Rum, Raasay and elsewhere.
Other private owners too are beginning to follow Reay Clarke’s example, with a project in development in Roy Bridge, and others elsewhere exploring the possibilities.
However, even if all these come to fruition, the Register of Interest indicates that demand far outstrips supply, and the Woodland Crofts Partnership has called on public, private, and community woodland owners to all play their part in the expansion of woodland crofting.