About Arkaig Community Forest

Our story

The Arkaig Community Forest was formed in 2014 by members of the community of Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes in Lochaber. We partnered with the Woodland Trust to fundraise and buy land that was offered for sale by Forestry Land Scotland. The two organistions now own and manage that land in partnership. Our aim is to restore native woodland habitats through removal of non-native and invasive species, deer management, and reforestation, and in doing so to re-connect local people with the management and stewardship of the site and to use the woodlands to underpin sustainable rural development in the community.

We manage over 1,000 hectares of forest in two blocks, Glenmallie and the Gusach (a Gaelic wood for a pinewood). These 1,000 hectares consist of native broadleaf woodland, Caledonian pine forest and non-native plantation conifers. Our Caledonian, or Scots pine, forest is one of the last remaining stands of this native rainforest left in the UK.

Starting in 2021, we began the work of removing the non-native species from the Arkaig Forest, starting with Glenmallie and with the Gusach a year later. The task of felling trees in the Gusach presented a serious hurdle. Owing to the remote nature of the forest, it was not accessible by any road, and we were keen to limit the impact created by roadbuilding. To this end, a barge was purpose built to ferry timber across the loch where it could connect with the main road on the north shore. Each-Uisge, the water horse, is the first barge of its kind to operate in Scotland. 

In 2022 we constructed our tree nursery, in order to produce locally grown trees to aid in the reforestation of the Arkaig Forest and other similar projects. Our deer larder followed in 2023, processing locally culled wild venison for sale as part of our forest management practice.

Credit: John Macpherson/Woodland Trust
Credit: John Macpherson/Woodland Trust
Arkaig Forest Clunes Forest School
  • 2013

    Forestry Land Scotland invites expressions of interest from community groups to buy two blocks of forest on the south shore of Loch Arkaig. The Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes community (ABC) registers an interest under the National Forest Land Scheme, which grants community groups first purchase rights on publicly owned land.

  • 2014

    ABC's application to purchase the Arkaig land is approved. The Arkaig Community Forest (ACF) is set up to take over from ABC in the purchase and future management of the land.

  • 2016

    A partnership is formed between the ACF and the Woodland Trust to jointly acquire and restore the Arkaig Forest. The purchase of the Arkaig Forest is completed.

  • 2021

    Felling and removal of non-native timber from the Glenmallie forest block commences.

    The Forest School buildings at Clunes and 6ha of adjacent woodland, including an orchard and willow coppice, is purchased by ACF with support from the Scottish Land Fund and the ABC Group Community Benefit Fund; and we begin construction of the tree nursery there.

  • 2022

    A polytunnel is added to the tree nursery, providing shelter and controlled growing conditions for future seedlings.

    Ulaidh, the Arkaig Forest art trail, launches in Glenmallie.

  • 2023

    Felling and removal of timber from the Gusach block commences, with timber transported to the north shore of the loch by barge to minimise impact from road building.

    A borehole is dug with funding from the SSE Renewables Highland Sustainable Development Fund providing the tree nursery with an independent water source as security against future drought.

    The deer larder officially opens, the construction made possible by NatureScot’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund.