Through nature, connections can be made across age, language, social and cultural divides. In Central Scotland, we are working to ensure that people from all backgrounds can enjoy the benefits and opportunities that our woods and forests provide. We would love for you get involved.
Read on to learn about events you can attend and engagement projects you may wish to join. Join our Facebook group where events will be advertised: https://www.facebook.com/groups/woodlandsforall/
Volunteer Community Champions Programme
Working with the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO), we developed a training programme that taught environmental, bushcraft and leadership skills, allowing our Champions to gain new experiences and build new relationships whilst delivering woodland sessions to their community group.
Presentation: Meet the Volunteer Community Champions and find out about their experiences:
The Volunteer Community Champions initiative was developed in response to the identified lack of people from diverse backgrounds (Race, Age, Disability, Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Religion & Belief) who were not accessing their local woodlands due to either lack of knowledge or basic skills.
Our VCC Alumni group consists of trained and experienced volunteers who can advise and assist other groups or volunteers when they are starting their own community woodland sessions.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to recruit new Volunteer Community Champions this year, but we hope to have the programme back up running in 2020.
Get financial support for your community project
We are always keen to see more people enjoying Scotland's forests.
If your community group has an idea for a project that encourages people to use their local woodland, you may qualify for support from the Scottish Forestry Community Fund. You can currently apply for activities taking place up until 31 March 2020.
The forests and woodlands managed by Forestry and Land Services are for everyone to enjoy. We want individuals from all sections of society to equally enjoy and benefit from the opportunities offered by nature.
Our initial mission and direction was set by the document 2010-2013 Engagement Strategy (PDF 1.9MB).
We are proud to have supported a number of community projects over the years.
You can learn about just some of them here:
Women's Leadership Programme
This innovative programme of learning and engagement was specifically for BAME women in Central Scotland. Eleven women were signed up to the programme from Chinese, Nepalese, Indian and Scottish backgrounds. The project had run over three, with many of the woman going on to work with their communities, encouraging them to use and explore woodlands.
Independent Living Champions
The aim of this project was to create creative and sustainable opportunities for Minority Ethnic Disabled People to access woodland, trees and forests. This project has built confidence and self-awareness among the participants so that they not only continue to access woodlands on their own/with family and friends, but also make the integral link between outdoor access and other related opportunities in education, volunteering, employment etc.
We have worked with a variety of different faith groups to explore options of celebrating traditional faith festivals in the woodlands. These have included:
- Diwali, Forest of Light. This event allowed participants the opportunity to reflect on the interfaith message of Diwali: that the many lights of our world, each residing in an individual or collectively as a community, have their origin in the One Light, which unites us all.
- Vaisakhi, Sikh harvest festival. This engaged with the Sikh community using food to celebrate their harvest festival. It was Scottish woodlands meets Asian kitchen in this unique celebration of nature and culture. Woodland walks incorporated how to safely identify edible Scottish wild plants. There was a hands-on Asian cookery class using Scottish native plant foods, taught by community members.
- Chinese mid-Autumn festival. We worked with the Glasgow Chinese community to make relevant links to forests and woodlands. Over the course of the event, 6 lanterns and numerous moon wish banners were made and displayed on trees.
Healing Fields and Forests
Over the four seasons, this project explored the cosmetic and medicinal uses of native Scottish trees and plants, the folklore surrounding them, and compared this with the plants and stories from the cultural heritages within the group.
The project was steered through Gurkha Association Scotland with input from Nepal Scotland Association, the Edinburgh Nepalese Community and women and children from the Edinburgh Bangladeshi community (via NKS).
Four booklets were produced covering the experiences of four seasons:
Find out more