Joan McAlpine is adding her voice to calls for at least 100 members of Moffat’s local community to sign up to a bid to transfer ownership of Gallow Hill to Moffat Community Woodlands.
Moffat Community Woodlands plans to secure the buyout with funding from the Community Land Scotland fund, established by the Scottish Government to support the growth of community land ownership in Scotland. Moffat Community Woodlands says there would be multiple benefits from community ownership of Gallow Hill, including providing mixed broadleaf woodland, improved leisure resources and educational opportunities that make the most of the views from the hill.
The group is holding a public meeting in Moffat Town Hall on 2nd February at 7.30pm to encourage local people to sign up as ‘Friends of Gallow Hill’.
Ms McAlpine is a strong supporter of community empowerment and has a keen interest in woodland management. She will speak at the meeting on Tuesday about how Government policy and the Community Land Scotland fund, and she will share examples of other successful community buyout projects.
Ms McAlpine said: “The Gallow Hill is a superb community resource, much loved and appreciated by local people, so this project is exactly the type of thing we want to encourage. When land is locally owned and managed for the good of the community, local people reap the benefits.
“Woodlands are a vital community resource. They contribute to health and wellbeing, are increasingly used by schools for outdoor education and are enormously important havens for wildlife. Gallow Hill has a rich history and heritage, is popular with walkers, photographers and visitors to the area, naturally I believe that a community resource of such significance should be in the hands of the community itself.
“The Scottish Government is committed to strengthening communities’ rights in Scotland. Together with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, the Community Land Scotland fund will help promote and facilitate land ownership across Scotland. This fund will be increased to £10 million from 2016-20.”
Ms McAlpine is Parliamentary Species Champion of The Scots Pine and worked closely with the Woodland Trust to have it designated Scotland's national tree. She added: “The meeting on Tuesday is very important to determining what happens next. I would urge anyone in the local area with an interest in the future of Gallow Hill to come along to the public meeting to find out more.”
The Friends of Gallow Hill public meeting takes place in Moffat Town Hall on 2nd February at 7.30pm.
Photo: Joan promoting her National Tree campaign in 2013. Credit Alan McCredie.