Evanton Wood is a 65 hectare woodland in the Scottish Highlands owned and managed by the community - through the Evanton Wood Community Company.
When the beautiful woodland behind their village went on sale, the people of Evanton took action. Evanton Wood Community Company was formed and a campaign to take ownership of the 65-hectare forest was launched. In 2012, with the support of The National Lottery, they clinched the deal.
Now the woodland has become a real focal point for the local communities, with a wide range of new attractions including sculpted seats, secret trails, orienteering course, adventure play area and pond area. Nursery children love their weekly visits; school children regularly enjoy shelter building, fire making, cooking and orienteering sessions. Since the development of the new pond area, pond dipping is also a popular activity - newts are a favourite and a specialist survey conducted in 2016 showed a tenfold increase in the number of newts in the area.
Five times a month, regardless of weather, volunteers meet to undertake practical tasks ranging from tree planting - some 3000 native species have been planted - ditch clearing, walk-way construction and woodland management.
The woodland is truly there for everyone to enjoy regardless of age or ability. Recently the group ran a 10-week programme for people with early stage dementia, using the wood for activities like shelter building and carpentry. One attendee, Ray, 58, really benefited from the sessions. His wife said. "The sessions in the wood have been absolutely wonderful. They are the best thing that has happened for Ray and he comes back from every session beaming full of joy."
The beautiful mixed woodland attracts 4 - 5,000 visitors every month, and hosts a wide ranging education programme, regular events and practical activities for the whole community