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Commonty Pinewoods

BCT holds ancient shared land use rights on behalf of the community over the whole of the Forest of Birse Commonty or nearly 4,000 ha (9,000 acres) (map). Two other parties also have rights over the Commonty: the owner of the solum, the Dickinson Trust (Birse Estate), and the owners of the sporting rights, the Dickinson Trust and Nicol Brothers (Ballogie Estate).

The Forest of Birse Commonty dates from medieval times and has had a long history of disputes (see History in Birse). In 1999, as part of an historic settlement over the Commonty, BCT and the other two parties signed the North Hill Management Agreement to enable BCT to secure Forestry Commission grants for the use of its ancient rights to manage the self sown native pinewoods covering c.550 ha of the North Hill of the Commonty. BCT and the two Estates have also held two regular meetings each year since as part of ensuring coordination of their respective interests in the Commonty.

The Commonty pinewoods include a major part of Scotland’s most easterly surviving Native Caledonian Pinewood and BCT’s manages the site to conserve and expand this nationally important habitat. The area of established woodland has increased by natural regeneration by 15% under BCT’s management and the increase would have been 25%, if it had not been for the major wildfire in April 2003 that destroyed part of the existing woodland (survey report). BCT has also planted over 23,000 individually protected native broadleaves of local genetic origin along the Feugh and its tributaries in the pinewood area, as part of restoring riparian woodland and the broadleaf component of the pinewood that has not survived the long history of browsing by deer and sheep.

BCT has carried out a wide range of other improvements and surveys in the Commonty Pinewoods since 1999. BCT has a long term Forest Plan for the Commonty Pinewoods 2011-30, which was approved by Forestry Commission Scotland and which BCT is currently implementing.

Birse Community Trust 2015. All rights reserved.