Queen's Award for Voluntary Service for Laide Community Wood

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service for Laide Community Wood

- 12/07/2019

The final part of the day for the Princess Royal was to present the volunteers at the Laide and Aultbea Community Woodland with their Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh, read the citation, as follows:

Ma’am, I wonder if I might highlight the reasons that Laide and Aultbea Community Woodland have won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

In 2003, as a result of generous public donations, Laid and Aultbea Community Woodland were able to purchase the 215 acre woodland with a mandate to improve the dilapidated condition, create paths and encourage wild life and bio-diversity through conservation.

The Volunteers immediately started work but had to face substantial difficulties presented by the local climate.
In 2005 hurricane force winds hit the woodland causing devastation and the past two years of work lying buried under a mat of fallen trees.
In 2014 flash flooding totally washed away a bridge and seriously damaged another.
Despite these challenges the group continues to progress.

Of the almost 60 volunteers - 12 to 15 meet weekly to contribute their skills in engineering, ATV usage, felling and cross cutting trees, milling timber for use on the project and turning lower quality trees into firewood. Meanwhile, others are engaged in attracting funding, developing the website, and preparing superb information boards explaining the flora and fauna of the wood.
All this work is based on a strategy document setting out a 20 year plan.

Painstaking work on replacing softwood with hardwood trees has already had a significant impact on the biodiversity of the wood, as demonstrated by surveys on bats, fungi, moths and butterflies, dragonflies, trout, and eels. What is more, this work is carried into the community with visits to
local schools, installing bird boxes, electro fishing, and pond dipping.

Finally, this Community Wood provides not just a place for healthy exercise for all ages, but also a place for utilising learned skills and for education and training. It has become a part of what holds the community together; it is a shared endeavour.

Ma’am, my only regret is that we couldn’t find the time to take you to the Woods and walk you round. I was there a week or two ago and saw where 33,000 new trees that have been planted with the final 16,000 to be planted this autumn. The work of the Laide and Aultbea Community Woodland continues from strength to strength.

May I now invite you to present the Award to the Chairman Mr John Rippon

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