Glengarry, Scottish Highlands
Glengarry Community Woodlands (GCW) was established in 2016 when the community came together to purchase their local community forest. Their vision was to sustainably manage the land and associated assets for the benefit of the community. As part of its charitable aims, GCW, a Development Trust, established a wide range of activities including free community engagement activities for children, teenagers and adults, in addition to running a firewood supply business.
Community consultations regarding the woodland showed that local residents were looking for it to deliver a range of benefits and, if possible, tackle some of the salient challenges faced by the community around affordable housing and employment. In order to further their work and generate income in a sustainable way the group undertook research and compiled a detailed feasibility study which identified that an eco-tourism enterprise within the community woodland would be the best way to achieve this. It was decided that off-grid, bespoke cabins would be built as tourist accommodation using timber from larch trees in the community forest.
The community owned business will create more jobs within the area and all profits generated will be used to fund the activities of GCW and its ongoing projects, including woodland crofts and affordable housing.
The group approached Community Shares Scotland to enquire if community shares would be a feasible option for raising the investment needed to fund the project and after discussions, decided to go ahead. The CSS team were able to support the group with financial modeling, compiling a business plan and creating their share offer document, in addition to advising on engaging with the community about the share offer and marketing of the project. A microgrant was provided to cover marketing & PR costs such as local press adverts, a promotional video and roadside banners.
Community Shares were a new concept for much of the community, and so it took some community engagement work. However they responded very well -mainly because they want to see our project succeed. About 40% of our community invested.
Tom Cooper, Glengarry Community Woodlands
In November 2022 the share offer launched on the ethical, online investment platform Ethex and ran for 6 weeks. During this time the Glengarry board did lots of face to face engagement with the community through 1-1 meetups and launch events. Coupled with the wider investment on Ethex, they were able to reach their target of £279,000 from 176 members, a significant majority of which came from the local community. With further funding from the local wind farm to compliment the share offer, the group have been able to get started on the build of their with a provisional launch date of the accommodation set for Summer 2023.