A FUNDRAISING appeal to secure the future of the Loch Arkaig pine forest has been boosted by a £750,000 award from the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The windfall takes the Loch Arkaig Appeal halfway to the £4.5 million needed to buy and restore the ancient woodland near Spean Bridge, which is being sold by Forest Enterprise Scotland under the National Forest Land Scheme which gives community organisations the chance to buy land.

Woodland Trust Scotland is partnering with Arkaig Community Forest, a small group of local residents with ambitious plans for the 2500 acre site.

Arkaig is one of the largest remaining single fragments of ancient Caledonian pinewood in Scotland, with as much history as it has wildlife – during WWII the pinewoods were a training ground for commandos. The hillside caught fire during live firing exercises and blackened pine trees are still visible.

Gary Servant of the ACF said: “This money will help us secure the ecological regeneration of our forest and the economic regeneration of our community. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is fantastic to have this support.”

PPL head of charities Clara Govier said: “Our players like to support initiatives for a better future, so nurturing trees and woodlands as an investment for the next generation is perfect. We are delighted that our players are able to support the work of the Woodland Trust across Great Britain, and to back the exciting partnership of conservationists and community at Loch Arkaig.”

Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speightadded: “This is a fantastic funding commitment from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Wherever players are in Britain they will be supporting tree planting and protection of woods in their own area – while helping secure and restore this venerable old forest at Loch Arkaig."

The partnership at Arkaig has the dual aim of restoring the forest and stimulating sustainable economic activity around it. The pinewoods have been degraded by historic felling, and planting with non-native conifers, which will be slowly removed over the next twenty years. It is hoped the local economy can benefit from wildlife tourism. There is potential for various businesses using products from the forest.

Visit http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/support-an-appeal/arkaig-pinewoods/support/ to help us reach our total.