Orchard Update

We have won the Wee Apple Award for our orchard. The award was presented to us in Holyrood on 1st Dec. 2016.









Thank you to all the schools and the staff at Arran Outdoor Education Centre for tree-planting!








We are pleased to let you know that the Orchard Windfalls Fund to purchase 30 apple trees has been confirmed! These will be planted up in the autumn with the help of local schoolchildren. We are hoping that locals will donate other fruiting shrubs such as blackcurrant bushes which can also be planted up this autumn or in the spring next year. We need to erect deer fencing along the north boundary of this field area and have set up a textgiving fundraiser for this –  just text ACLI20 £3  to 70070 to help us protect the orchard.

ACLI Tee Shirts

Jan. 2017 – these T-shirts are now SOLD OUT! (new designs may follow soon depending on demand…)

Here is a photo taken today (22/5/15) of our wonderful new ACLI T-shirt in Azure Blue, great for the summer! Sizes from child 12-13 years, adult S,M,L,XL. £12.50 inc. postage. It is being modelled by some of our fabulous Board and newly-appointed employees (left to right), Juliette Walsh (treasurer), Pippa Downing (Land Manager), Rachel Sedman (Funding Officer), Nikki Harris (chair) and Ishbel Gordon (secretary). Keith Robertson our vice-chair ran off to a festival before the photo was taken (true!)

ACLI - Tshirt pics May 15 003ACLI - Tshirt pics May 15 007Woollen Woods b15 008Woollen Woods b15 007

Our Campaign to help the critically endangered Arran Whitebeam Tree

One of our conservation projects includes helping to save the Arran Whitebeam tree which is critically endangered. We have so far planted up 20 of them in a fenced area (to keep the deer from eating them!).  Here’s local expert Henry Murdo talking about the Arran Whitebeam.

Since 1869 when they were first mentioned in journals, the three species of whitebeam tree growing on the Isle of Arran have entranced naturalists and tree lovers. This is because Arran, and specifically the north end of Arran, is the only place in the world where they are found growing naturally. They are a hybrid of the rock whitebeam, and the oft sung of rowan tree, and have pretty leaves with a soft white underside, which show the mix quite clearly. Lovely white blossoms are produced after the snow melts, and red-orange berries come before winter. They are considered close to extinction by the World Wildlife Fund and although they have been studied and protected sporadically by various environmental organisations, including the Nature Conservancy Council who ran a reserve around them in Glen Diomhan from 1973-1991, (sadly it no longer has reserve status), there are far fewer left than in the 1950s.  Deer prefer nibbling them to almost any other native tree and sheep have been known to die for them: the trees that are left mainly live precariously between 100 and 300 feet up on craggy steep-sided rocks and visitors to the island are generally unaware of them.  Apart from deer and enthusiastic chain-saw wielders, both of which the island has in roaming herds, other threats to sorbus arranensis and her sisters the catacol whitebeam, (sorbus pseudomeinichii) and the delightfully named bastard whitebeam or cut leaved whitebeam, (sorbus pseudofennica) include habitat loss, overgrazing by sheep and the inevitable severe weather event, which could still wipe out the entire wild population.

This would be a shame, as the species seems to be incredibly old –  isolated here since the last glaciation period 11,500 years ago. Seedlings are clones of the parent tree, producing asexually, reducing genetic variation which makes them vulnerable to changes in the environment. There are, however, quite a few whitebeams in what you could call ‘captivity’. In fact, the sorbus arranensis is a bit of a must- have in some Arran gardens. They are useful for schools when teaching about the mechanics of evolutionary diversity in trees.  Their rarity has given them value in other respects with them being used as an interesting and thought-provoking  international gift. Four years ago, in twin ceremonies at Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, and in Knoxsville Tennessee, saplings were exchanged and planted by ‘Trees 4 Two Nations’. Arran got the beautiful rock chestnut oak, and Knoxsville got the lovely whitebeam, to symbolise shared ‘deep historical and cultural roots’ and the continued friendship between the two nations.

Henry Murdo of Corriegills on Arran runs his own tree-propagating nursery in his garden and knows all there is to know about these trees having busily collected and propagated seed and tended the saplings for years, in hopes of helping to stabilise and raise the population of these beautiful tenacious survivors on Arran. He explains that they they are extremely hard to propagate from seed and he has been experimenting to find its ideal germination conditions. Some of his trees go to enclosures on the Brodick Castle Estate on Arran but he is keen to see more planting in a variety of locations and explained to ACLI trustees that these trees are equally suited to lower land not just the craggy rocks in remote burns. Arran Community Land Initiative hopes to plant and protect several on their land lying above the coastal village of Whiting Bay.

Arran Distillery Boosts Community Land Initiative With Windfall Donation

19th Februrary 2015

We were delighted to receive a windfall cheque from Isle of Arran Distillers in our fundraising efforts for the project.  The award-winning whisky producer pledged £2,000 to our crowdfunding campaign in a bid to give something back to the island that produces their famous Arran Malt.

Following successful funding from the Scottish Land Fund to buy 80 acres of disused farmland in December 2014, we’re now using crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise £6,000 to transform the site. We plan to create a range of community projects including nature walks, camping pods and mountain bike trails as well as community gardens. The land will also be used for delivering a variety of education courses including qualifications in land-based skills such as horticulture and as a space for outdoor learning for Arran schoolchildren and visiting groups.

The donation from Isle of Isle of Arran Distillers puts us well on track to meet our target and start putting our plans into action. Arran Community Land Initiative Treasurer, Juliette Walsh said:

‘This generous donation from Isle of Arran Distillers means that we are getting nearer to our crowdfunding target of £6,000 so the first year of the project is looking more secure. The money will go towards creating a community garden, access points and basic visitor facilities. If the total is achieved we can complete these elements and progress to launching landbased skills qualifications in the autumn.’

Isle of Arran Distillers, one of the few remaining independent whisky distilleries in Scotland, is one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations. They hope that their involvement will inspire other businesses on the island to follow suit. James MacTagggart, Production Director said:

‘As a former Director and Chairman of the Islay Development Company whose aims were very similar to this Arran initiative I am delighted that Isle of Arran Distillers have decided to support this project. From my experience it is difficult to raise the initial funding for these projects, but it is certainly more difficult to maintain the funding stream on an ongoing basis and I hope this £2,000 kick starts the second phase and encourages other businesses to give their support.’

Isle of Arran Distillers is amongst a number of local businesses supporting the campaign. Altachorvie Hotel in Whiting Bay held a charity music night in November, successfully raising £350 for the campaign. A number of other businesses have also offered a diverse range of goods and services for free or at cost for the group to use as ‘perks’ for contributors to the campaign. These include the donation of a couple’s two-night stay at The Douglas Hotel in Brodick, places on activity courses donated by Arran Outdoor Education Centre, stunning art photo prints by local photographer Andrew Surridge, Forest School family day sessions run by local Forest School Leaders, a bushcraft day out with local expert Mark Bunyan, printed ACLI tee shirts by Arran Graphics and tree pledges, whereby local tree enthusiast and expert Henry Murdo has offered to plant the critically endangered Arran whitebeam trees on the land in return for contributions to the campaign. The Arran Community Land Initiative team are also donating their own time and skills to run nature walks and guided mountain bike runs.

Chairperson Nikki Harris is thrilled and thankful to have the support of local businesses. ‘It feels like everyone is really pulling together to make this happen’.

The crowdfunding campaign is part of a pilot initiative by Highlands and Islands Enterprise who have contracted Scottish company Hot Tap Media Ltd to offer consultation and support to between three and four community groups in the region.

We have until 23rd March to raise the funds, and urge members of the public to get involved and offer their support by contributing to the campaign.

In the photo are, from left to right: Ben Tattersfield, Gordon Bloy, James MacTaggart (Production Director), Juliette Walsh (ACLI Trustee), Brodie Pearcey (ACLI Trustee), Graham Ormand, Nikki Harris (ACLI Trustee)


Crowdfunding Launch

With the assistance of Highlands & Islands Enterprises, we are delighted to let you know that we have now launched our crowdfunding campaign.

The aim of the project is to raise funds for initial works on the land; establishing a community garden, improving access to the site and providing basic visitor facilities.

From the generous support of a range of Arran businesses, we have assembled a wide range of offers and ‘thank yous’ for those wishing to make a donation.

Click here for more details, videos and how to make your donation of support.

2015 New Year Update

ACLI was recently awarded £181,500 funding from the Scottish Land Fund to buy the land and kick-start the project. The purchase went through on 18th December 2014 and now the hard work begins!

The trustees are very keen to drive the project forward immediately and on 3rd January 2015 they organised a volunteer day on the land so that locals could get to know the area and clear brambles away from access points into the fields. It was great to witness the enthusiasm and support of many on a beautiful sunny day in the fields!

The group will shortly be appointing a part-time project manager, for which there is one year’s worth of funding from the Scottish Land Fund, to help implement plans for the land. Funding and planning applications will be submitted shortly for multi-use paths through the land so that people can walk, bike or ride through it. There is much planting work to be done with the development of an orchard and community gardens/allotments and improvements of hedges.

The group is, with the help of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, launching a crowdfunding campaign towards the end of January 2015, as further funds are vital for the long-term success of the project. There will be a range of goodies on offer to those who give small or large financial donations. These range from original ACLI designed T-shirts, tree-planting pledges including the rare Arran Whitebeam tree, through to adventure activites and hotel stays.

We’ve Joined Community Land Scotland

We’re pleased to let everyone know that we’ve joined Community Land Scotland, a leading group of community land owners across the Highlands & Islands.

Community Land Scotland was established in 2010 as a response to the need for a collective voice for community landowners in Scotland. It is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

The current membership includes Scottish community landowners – owning and managing approx. 500,000 acres between them – and aspiring community landowners of varying shapes and sizes throughout Scotland.

The group represents these existing and aspiring community landowners to reflect their views in promoting changes to legislation to empower communities, while acting as a point of contact for any communities in Scotland who wish to find out more about community land ownership.

You can read the most recent news, including a mention of our joining in the Community Land Scotland Winter Newsletter.

Successful Purchase of Farmland for Arran Community Projects

It is with huge excitement that the trustees on the board of the Arran Community Land Initiative are able to confirm that the acquisition of 80 acres of farmland above Whiting Bay has now been concluded by means of a grant from the Scottish Land Fund. It is thanks to overwhelming support from Arran residents, schools, groups, charities and businesses that this project attracted government funding when it submitted its application in March as well as the persistence of the trustees who worked with lottery administrators and solicitors throughout the autumn to follow through with the sale.

Ambitious plans are being developed to bring the 80 acre area of land back into use which will be of benefit to both residents and visitors to the island. These provisionally include establishing multi-use paths, a community garden area, grazing lets, and creating an area near the top of the site dedicated to mountain biking technical skills. There are also plans to roll out outdoor learning opportunities for schoolchildren and landbased skills courses for students and adult learners.

Throughout, the project will endeavour to find a balance between access and protection of the land’s biovidersity. Currently, volunteer Malcolm Whitmore is carrying out a year-long wildlife survey. In early autumn 2014 he noted a rich variety of flora, birdlife and native trees which included hazel groves and birds we tend not to see as often such as goldcrest and mistle thrush. The project is already attracting interest from education providers because of its multi-stranded ambitions. Starting from scratch on land which hasn’t been farmed for a number of years means that there will be a myriad of subject matter to study even to postgraduate level.

Treasurer Juliette Walsh says, “Being able to walk across the land without getting lost is of course the first priority! We hope to start up a working volunteer party very soon which will meet on a regular basis to help uncover old access points and enable young and old to get to know the land better and call it their own. You can join for just £10 annual subscription fee and you will be kept informed of the project’s progress and ways in which you can contribute. We welcome any help with any of the group’s tasks – from sending out emails, designing and putting up posters to helping to dismantle some of the decaying caravans on the land or helping cut back gorse or ferns during volunteer work party days. There are many ways in which to help ACLI, make new friends and have fun and feel fitter! Just get in touch.’’