An Aberdeenshire community has taken over a popular woodland and pledged to improve it for the betterment of all locals.
Tomrichton Wood in the heart of Braemar, formerly owned by Mar Estate, is now owned and managed by the community of the village.
At more than 150 years old, the woodland is home to many pinewood species including red squirrells and crossbills, and features a number of very old “granny pine” trees.
The purchase was made possible thanks to funding from the Scottish Land Fund to Braemar Community Limited, and the woods will now be utilised for the enjoyment of Braemar locals and visitors to the Deeside village alike.
In addition, the Cairngorms National Park’s Green Recovery Fund has provided funding of £12,000 to provide fencing, bird and bat boxes, picnic benches, a nature trail and surveys at Tomrichton.
Simon Blackett, chairman of Braemar Community Limited, said: “This has been a wonderful opportunity to take over the control and management of a key asset in the life of the community.
“It will be managed to benefit biodiversity and to provide a valuable resource for the community and visitors to enjoy.
“Already, thanks to our funders, we have been able to provide facilities to enhance the use by locals and visitors of all ages.
“The purchase was linked to our work in developing an affordable housing scheme on a brown field site adjacent to the wood.
“To have control of the area immediately beside the housing site will make the project simpler to achieve and link directly to the new homes.”
The woodlands are located in the middle of the Deeside village, to the east of the Braemar Gathering grounds and the west of Braemar Church.
Braemar Community Limited said the land had originally been part of the Duke of Fife’s land holdings for over 300 years.
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside Councillor Geva Blackett added: “We are all really grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for helping make this happen as the woodland is very central and will prove a haven not just for wildlife but the community too.
“Hopefully we will soon have planning permission to build our community owned housing on the adjacent site – a real achievement for a community of approximately 500 people.”