Highlands & Islands

Bid to revive Lochaber wood damaged in World War Two

Woods at Loch Arkaig Image copyright Trees for Life
Image caption Woodland at Loch Arkaig in Lochaber

Woodland containing pines damaged by fire during commando training in World War Two is the focus of a new restoration project.

Forestry Commission Scotland has agreed to sell 2,683 acres (1,086ha) of woodland at Glen Mallie and South Loch Arkaig in Lochaber to a new venture.

Community body Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes Group and charity Trees for Life have teamed up for the project.

The joint venture to restore woodland is thought to be a first for Scotland.

The community group and Forres-based Trees for Life hope to raise £500,000 in 18 months to buy the land.

Gary Servant, of the ABC Group, said it was a "great opportunity" for the local community to protect and restore an area of Caledonian Forest.

Trees for Life's executive director Alan Watson Featherstone added: "We are delighted that Forestry Commission Scotland has approved the bid to purchase this native pinewood site, which is rich in biodiversity and historical importance.

"We now have a unique opportunity to take a significant step forwards in achieving our vision of a renewed Caledonian Forest in the West Highlands, while bringing real social and environmental benefits to the remote rural Lochaber community.

"Our challenge now is to raise the funds required to make this vision a reality."

Image copyright Peter evans/geograph
Image caption The Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge

Glen Mallie and South Loch Arkaig were among areas of Lochaber where soldiers were trained in commando warfare during WW2.

Achnacarry Castle, the ancestral home of the chiefs of Clan Cameron, was crucial to the allied campaign against the Axis powers.

The castle, about 15 miles (24km) north east of Fort William, was used to train elite commandos from Britain and the US as well as France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium from 1942 to 1945.

Lochaber's role in training commandos is recalled in a statue near Spean Bridge.

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