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BCT manages nearly 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of forests and woodlands on behalf of the community in Birse parish. This includes the Commonty Pinewoods in the Forest of Birse (c.550 ha), Balfour Forest (241 ha), Slewdrum Forest (169 ha), Finzean Community Woods (17 ha) and several small areas such as the Finzean School Wood.

The ancient rights that BCT holds over the Forest of Birse Commonty and its ownership of Balfour and Slewdrum Forests, reflects the centuries old tradition of common good forests in Birse parish. The exceptionally rich forest heritage of Birse parish is also demonstrated by the three 19th century water-powered woods mills that still survive locally – Finzean Sawmill, Turning Mill and Bucket Mill.

BCT manages the three Forests, one in each of the parish’s three communities, and its other woodland areas to promote the common good of the inhabitants of Birse parish and deliver wider public benefits. Over half the forest area consists of the Commonty Pinewoods and BCT main management objective is to conserve and expand this nationally important area of native pinewood.

Slewdrum and Balfour Forests, while also consisting mainly of Scots pine, are former Forestry Commission plantations. Initially BCT became involve with these forests through management agreements and an informal partnership with the FC. BCT then played a pioneering role in the development of the Scottish Government’s National Forest Land Scheme through which BCT was able to buy each of the forests.

While BCT is managing Slewdrum and Balfour to improve their environmental value as native forests, an important part of BCT management is to ensure that the forests also produce a long term sustainable supply of timber that contributes financially to other activities carried out by BCT on behalf of the local community.

Birse Community Trust 2015. All rights reserved.