A Loch Ness-side community is aiming to give an old forest school building a new educational purpose.
Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust wants to revitalise land at Inverfarigaig as a base for a community growing and environmental project.
It has submitted a community asset transfer (CAT) request to buy nearly two acres of land including a disused property known as the Farigaig forest classroom.
The purchase would also include disused toilets, car park, picnic area and open land known as Fasnagruig Paddock.
Growing interest in environment
The trust says the site has been underused for many years but has great potential.
It is hoped the £45,000 purchase can be achieved by next June and the development completed within two years after that.
The former forestry school building is earmarked for an education facility for schools both local and outwith the area to promote the natural environment and biodiversity.
It will also be a meeting room and base for environmental volunteers and rangers, as well as a site for a food growing trial.
It will remain as a picnic area and retain interpretation and signs for local paths, including the increasingly popular South Loch Ness Trail and Trail of the 7 Lochs.
Residents keen to protect woods and wildlife
The trust says in its CAT application: “We believe this transfer will unlock benefits to the community locally and also contribute to the national outcomes of increased social and environmental wellbeing.
“The main benefit of the asset transfer would be the impetus to increase the use and value of the asset to the local community.
“There is currently very limited access or use of the building and the open area of the paddock has an air of neglect.”
It says residents are keen to protect and appreciate local woodlands, trails and wildlife.
The proposal would help engage more people in nature and advance social wellbeing.
“Increased use arising from local ownership and control would also facilitate increased interaction between local residents and visitors who are drawn to Loch Ness and its surroundings.”
Trust CEO Tony Foster said the community action plan and place plan have provided a catalyst for local action.
“People have an affinity with and interest in sustainability and biodiversity. We want to harness that as much as we can.”
Community ownership helps sustainability
The trust already run other local initiatives including the Riverside Field, Wildside Centre and a community growing project.
It took over the former Wildside Outside Classrooms and building at Whitebridge, in 2019 after they had lain derelict for 18 years.
The trust has also recently gained planning permission for phase 2 of a renovation of Errogie Church.
Mr Foster added: “Having all these assets in community ownership means they are more sustainable for the future.”
Meanwhile, a successful CAT has seen nearly 1.5 acres of land at Slattadale in Wester Ross taken ito community hands.
FLS has agreed the deal with Slattadale CIO to develop a sustainable off-campus outdoor education facility.
This will benefit the Gairloch High School Associated School Group’s 3-18 community, which covers the areas from Shieldaig to Laide and Dundonnell.
Slattadale spokeswoman Fiona Mackenzie, said: “We will use this land for various educational activities that will embody and promote our four key themes of education, community, wellbeing, and employability. ”