THE RSFS’s very own forest
Cashel: The Forest for a Thousand Years
By Syd House, Chair, the RSFS Forest Trust
YOUR FOREST NEEDS YOU!
Members of the RSFS will be aware of the successful native woodland established over the last 20 or so years by the RSFS’s own Forest Trust at Cashel, east Loch Lomond. Set up to demonstrate best practice in native woodland management, including growing timber, Cashel also offers the opportunity to engage with members of the public and other key stakeholders to optimise the very many public benefits that woodland managers and owners know can be derived from well-managed woodlands. The Board of Trustees for the RSFS Forest Trust see Cashel as an excellent place to promote outdoor education, access and enjoyment, nestling as it does in the heart of the Loch Lomond National Park and adjacent to the popular West Highland Way long distance walking route. Have a look at the website for further details http://www.cashel.org.uk/ .
A number of RSFS members have done sterling work in getting Cashel to the place it is now and we owe a big thank you to them. We also have 2 excellent ‘stewards’ living in Cashel Farmhouse, Stephen and Melanie MacLuskie, who have helped with the day-to-day care of Cashel and whose role we are seeking to expand subject to funding.
We would like, however, to be ambitious and take Cashel to a new level in terms of demonstrating good practice and engaging with the general public. We have agreed an Integrated Land Management Plan with the National Park Authority, have started preparing a Forest Plan to be agreed with FCS, applied for grant-aid to extend the footpaths, engaged with volunteers, and started preparing a programme of events to be held at Cashel this autumn and in 2018. We are also keen to review the options for the Visitor Centre and associated buildings and how these might be developed to help further our objectives.
All of this takes time and effort. We have an excellent board of Trustees and, as indicated above, on-site support via the MacLuskies. Ideally, we would also have specialist management support at Cashel reporting to the board and providing regular management oversight to all the various activities but, at present, we are not in a position to pay for this. We are aware though that within the Society, there is an abundance of ability and skills. It is the view of the Trustees that Cashel would greatly benefit from help from the members of the RSFS with all their skills and expertise. Accordingly, we would ask that RSFS members consider volunteering their time and skills at Cashel to help take forward this marvelous asset. Amongst the tasks we would welcome help with are:
· Supervising volunteers and other groups using Cashel
· Marking/assessing stands for thinning and cleaning
· Using a drone to ‘visit’ and assess parts of the estate, take photos and generally facilitate management
· Arboricultural management and work on specimen/policy trees
· Assessing suitable ground for potential woodland expansion
· Drafting plans and applications for grant-aid, financial support and sponsorship including dentifying potential commercial sponsors who could see the benefit of supporting Cashel
· Drafting communication material (leaflets, press releases, newletters, etc)
· Routine forest survey and assessment (stocking, deer impact, natural regeneration, etc)
· Walking the external fenceline
· Contributing to a programme of events and guided walks at Cashel (by organizing/leading or participating) in 2018
· Visitor monitoring and management including improving the visitor experience by helping to design and implement interpretation for the paths and visitor centre
· Engaging with Schools and other educational establishments to promote Cashel
· Leading or helping manage individual projects at Cashel (eg footpath establishment; visitor surveys; individual conservation projects)
· Wildlife monitoring and associated woodland/habitat management
· Website and social media management
I’m sure those who volunteer - both those with great experience and those in the early part of their careers who wish to hone or learn new skills - will also greatly benefit from the social aspect of being involved at Cashel by meeting others and sharing their skills. Whilst we are asking for volunteers, the Board may be prepared to pay expenses for those travelling to Cashel.
We would also welcome any ideas members may have for collaborating with existing initiatives and projects. Indeed, we would welcome any suggestions you might have for enhancing or helping Cashel develop as we would wish.
· Your name and contact details
· Your subject expertise and/or willingness to help
· Number of days you can offer
Simon has agreed to help co-ordinate volunteers. Once we have replies we will consider how best to utilize your skills and time over the next year or so.
I hope many of you will take up this invite. We aim to create a very welcoming atmosphere at Cashel where RSFS members will feel that they are making a great contribution whilst getting something out of their input through camaraderie and satisfaction of helping the RSFS promote the ‘good news’ about forests and forestry to the people of Scotland and beyond.
RSFS Forest Trust Cashel
The ‘Friends of Cashel’
Interested in what’s happening at Cashel?
In addition to requesting RSFS members to volunteer at Cashel, we are also setting up a ‘Friends of Cashel’ group with the aim of helping spread the word about the RSFS Forest Trust’s Cashel project and encouraging support and feedback from our key audience, RSFS members and the wider world.
The ‘Friends’ group will be administered by Melanie MacLuskie who lives at Cashel farmhouse and who has been helping look after Cashel on a day-to-day basis over the last few years.
There is no fee proposed in becoming a ‘Friend’ just simply an interest in Cashel and the forest and in receiving news about progress and events. We envisage around 3 email newsletters per annum as well as news of specific events and happenings.