Rejuvenating a historic community-owned woodland

A voluntary group is working towards boosting the biodiversity and public access of a woodland in Inverness.

Culduthel Community Woods are on about two acres (6ha) of land once associated with a former stately home that dated back to the 1780s.

The woods were brought into community ownership in 2022 and are now the focus of projects to improve its paths, tackle invasive plants and encourage growth of native species.

Murray Ferguson, chairman of Culduthel Woods Group, said: "It is a small wood but we think we can do a lot here."

Culduthel Woods volunteers
Culduthel Woods Group's Caroline Phillips and Murray Ferguson [BBC]

The woods provide habitat to red squirrels and birds.

Tiny burrows in an area of earth bank have also been found to be home to bees.

Future proposals include improving an adjoining area of grassland for the benefit of plants and insects, and potentially putting up bat boxes.

Caroline Phillips, secretary of Culduthel Woods Group, said: "We're still in the early days, but we have been planting more trees especially where there are openings in the trees."

Sign at Culduthel Community Woods
A new sign at the woodland [BBC]
Culduthel Community Woods
The woods have been in community ownership since 2022 [BBC]

Paths through the woods link up housing developments in the Culduthel area, and are used by some people to eventually reach the city centre.

Mr Ferguson said: "The biggest thing we are working on in the immediate future are paths.

"We have some good paths, but some are in a poor state."

Following a public consultation, the group hopes to secure planning permission and funding to improve the network.

But Mr Ferguson added: "We don't want to make it too urban and want to keep the character of the place.

"We want to make it a nice place for wildlife and for people to enjoy and have fun."

Last weekend, the woodland hosted events as part of the Inverness Walking and Wheeling Festival.

Mother and toddler outdoor activities are also held in the woods.

Culduthel Woods
There are plans to boost the woodland's biodiversity [BBC]