CVCWT enters into long term management agreements with landowners to enhance biodiversity and provide public access, especially in broadleaf woodlands habitats.
The current partnerships involve the Forestry Commission Scotland, Galloway Forest District (FCS), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Dumfries & Galloway Council, Galloway Estates and Old Hall Farm, Newton Stewart. The total area of woodland habitat under management is approximately 1800 hectares.
The woodlands are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) and new woodlands created on former afforested land. The main aim of the project is to develop a Forest Habitat Network (FHN) that has at its core the River Cree, with riparian corridors. (See ” Woodland Map”.)
Management work has involved the felling and extraction of conifers, selective felling of broadleafs, broadleaf planting, general woodland management, creation of wet woodlands and wetlands, stock and deer fencing, the provision of easy access paths, interpretation boards, publication of leaflets and newsletters.
CVCWT organises leader-led walks during the calendar year and supports visiting natural history organisations and specialist groups from throughout the UK and Europe. It organises field surveys for Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) species and is in partnership with FCS in the co-ordination of a local volunteers group involved in habitat management.
CVCWT is pro-active in reaching out to community groups and identifying opportunities for community involvement.
Active community partners include the Activity and Resource Centre, Newton Stewart, Turning Point Scotland, the Stranraer Campus of Dumfries & Galloway College, local primary and secondary schools and church groups. CVCWT is a member of the Wigtownshire Local Rural Partnership and is active with the Newton Stewart Walking Festival, Newton Stewart Nature based Tourism, Newton Stewart Initiative and the Newton Stewart Business Association. The Trust is overseen by a Steering Group which consists of partner representatives and community members.
CVCWT cooperates with national and international projects.
During the period 1999 to 2003 CVCWT administered the EU LIFE project UK 182 “Sustainable forestry to protect water quality and aquatic biodiversity”, the partners were FCS and the Swedish Forestry Board (See “Articles”).
In 2004, CVCWT cooperated with FCS in the delivery of an EU LIFE project on “Core forest sites for Forest Habitat Networks”
CVCWT is supporting a national initiative to raise the profile of the montane scrub habitat.
At the FCS Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, near Newton Stewart, CVCWT has equipped a forest classroom to assist in the delivery of the 5-14 Environmental studies curriculum. The facility is used by local primary schools and the FCS Education Ranger staff. (See “Classroom”.)
In promoting woodland management, CVCWT has set out objectives:
- To create a native broadleaved woodland of national importance and high conservation and landscape value, through a community partnership which, together with landowners, the community and local agencies, will focus on improving the social, ecological and economic value of the Cree valley through the promotion of native woodlands.
- To restore and link fragments of native woodlands and associated habitats by natural regeneration and planting, maximising the benefits of the woodlands by creating opportunities for species of high conservation value to colonise the new woodlands from established ancient and semi-natural habitats.
- To promote the enhancement and interpretation of conservation, landscape, archaeological, natural and built heritage features.
- To extend public access by exploring and developing the potential for new routes particularly linking to the Southern Upland Way, where appropriate and compatible with other objectives.
- To enhance the fishery by investigating improvements to riparian management and the aquatic habitat.
- To stimulate local economic activity by developing the socio-economic value of the broadleaf woodlands and the area for the benefit of the community, particularly in terms of tourism.
- To develop an interpretative strategy to encompass the whole of the Cree Valley Community Woodlands, and to link and develop existing visitor facilities to the highest standard, providing new recreational opportunities where appropriate.